Steven Frank Bailey set to leave Episcopal Church Center after 20 years

July 6, 2008

After two decades of what can only be described as a life of service, Steven Frank Bailey retires July 7 from the Episcopal Church Center in New York City.

"It has been enlightening, educational, and a privilege to work here," he said.

Bailey's career at the Church Center, located at 815 Second Avenue in Manhattan, will end in the office where it began -- United Thank Offering (UTO). Hired as a temp in December 1987, Bailey said he watched his responsibilities with UTO grow from reading newspapers and answering telephones to being hired full-time and learning about databases and merging programs.

"Working here has always made me feel that I was able to effect some kind of change in the world because the Episcopal Church has been a part of the changes in the world like the Contra Wars of Central America, the end of apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall," he explained.

Bailey was well known by his colleagues for his ability to interact with anyone and everyone at the Church Center, as well as throughout the wider church.

"I felt that going through the building, meeting and getting to know what people do was something that you should do," he said. "It lets people know that you don't just come here to work and ignore and pass them by."

Bailey said this approach and interaction with his colleagues enabled him to say: "If you need help you can reach out to me and visa versa."

For several years, Bailey acted as the building tour guide for visitors to the Church Center, and served on both the Human Resources Committee and the Transition Team for the Performance Appraisal Compensation design group. He was also instrumental in introducing the TransitChek program which benefited Church Center employees commuting to work on public transportation. Ironically, Bailey rarely took advantage of the program because he rode his bicycle to and from work -- roughly 20 miles -- as long as the weather cooperated.

"It's important to be involved because if you are not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," he said.

Prior to joining the staff at the Church Center, Bailey spent seven years at Toronto Dominion Bank where he worked as a chauffer, bartender, body guard and messenger, but left because "it wasn't fulfilling."

However, that is the place where he met his wife, Saundra, of 21 years this August.

Bailey did a tour in Vietnam as a United States Marine. After being honorably discharged he worked on Wall Street before joining and retiring from the New York City Police Department.

Never too busy to be of service, Bailey serves as vice chair of the Concerned Residents Organization in his Bronx, New York neighborhood. This volunteer group acts as a liaison between the local police precinct and residents and lends its support to fellow organizations fighting crime, drugs and other concerns in their areas.

"Our purpose is to make the community aware of what they can do if they come together as a group and form a united front. You can accomplish more things," he said.

Before heading to work, Bailey can be found riding his bicycle at 5:30 a.m. with a mini tape recorder in hand recording license plate numbers of commercial vehicles parked illegally in his neighborhood. He turns the information into the Community Affairs Office at monthly council meetings which in turn issues parking summonses.

Bailey, a father of five and grandfather of three said retirement will not find him soon. He and his wife will relocate to Virginia in early 2009 where he hopes to revive his love of tutoring children.

"I've done some tutoring before when I was a member of the tenants association and enjoyed it because it allows you to have a direct impact on children who may not have a sense of worth of themselves," he said.

John E. Colón, director of human resource management at the Episcopal Church Center, said: "I am deeply indebted to Steve for his leadership and service on the Human Resources Committee, the Working Group for an Inspired and Motivated Workforce, and numerous other initiatives in support of our quality of life at the Episcopal Church Center and beyond. Steve's frank and forthright approach was his hallmark as we worked together to assure justice in the workplace. The Center will miss Steve and I know I speak for many when I wish him and Saundra God's richest blessings for the future."

-- Daphne Mack is a correspondent for Episcopal Life Media and is editor of Global Good and Put Your Faith to Work.

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