On 21 June 2022, former colleagues, friends, and families joined Joseph “Joe” E. O’Hara at Merrick Head Start to dedicate a tree in his honor. From 2001 to 2021, Joe served as PEACE, Inc.’s Executive Director. He left a profound legacy of program expansion, service innovation, and community responsiveness. Joe was especially proud of the agency’s stewardship of its many federal, state, and philanthropic funds.
At the dedication, PEACE, Inc. Board of Directors President David A. Scharoun shared, “If not for Joe, PEACE, Inc. would not be the place it is today…We certainly couldn’t have done it without you, and you have left your mark on the organization.”
In describing Joe’s selfless attitude and its effect on the community, current PEACE, Inc. Executive Director Carolyn D. Brown shared the thoughts of Nelson Henderson, “The true meaning of life is to plant a tree under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
A modest man, Joe passionately combated poverty and sought to help individuals and families escape it. These values defined his work prior to PEACE, Inc. at Onondaga County’s Social Services and Probation Departments, the New York State Fair as its Director, and Catholic Charities of Central New York. Joe also served as a Common Councilor for the City of Syracuse and participated in countless coalitions, including the Education and Human Development Committee of the City of Syracuse, the Providence College Board of Governors, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In honor of Joe, a plaque lies below the tree that reads,
PEACE, Inc. plants this tree to honor Joseph “Joe” E. O’Hara for his 20 years leadership as the agency’s Executive Director and lifelong commitment toward improving the lives of all Syracuse and Central New York residents.