--- Issued October 23, 2013

More than 500 people filled 52 tables at the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie (HACE) at the Bayfront Convention Center on Friday, October 11.

Nadine Leach, left, Nealy Leach-Ruff, John Horan, and guest speaker Doris Tate Johnson enjoy the Erie Housing Authority's 75th Anniversary celebration.  The women are examples, in one family, of the Housing Authority's success: Nadine Leach is owner of Handle With Care Day Care Center; Nealy Leach-Ruff is an employee of the Erie Housing Authority for 42 years and a current supervisor; Colonel Doris Tate Johnson achieved soaring success in the military. All of the ladies are former residents of The Erie Housing Authority.

Dr. Jay Badams, superintendent of the Erie School District, and former public housing resident Colonel Doris Tate
Johnson, U.S. Army, spoke at the event.

Also attending the semi-formal event, the theme of which was “It’s About People,” were Mayor Joseph Sinnott, Tom Hagen, Mr. and Mrs. John Evans, Jessica Horan-Kunco and her husband Ron Kunco, James Sherrod, Don and Gayle Wright, Tim and Nancy Sennett, Tim and Claire Wachter, Ron and Barbara Steele, Dr. Richard Dreyfus and his wife Janine, Gary Horton, Robert and Barbara Sambroak, Dr. Julie Wollman and her husband Dan, Bill and Patty Jackson, Mel Witherspoon, Fred and Donna Rush, and Julia Horan, accompanied by her husband John Horan, executive director of the Authority.

Tables were sponsored by, among others: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett law firm, Erie Insurance, Erie Water Authority, The Jefferson Society, Community Health Net, Greater Erie Community Action Committee, Northwest Savings Bank, Printing Concepts, Housing and Neighborhood Development Service,  UPMC Health Plan, United Way of Erie County, YMCA of Greater Erie, Stairways, and AmeriHEALTH.

Colonel Tate Johnson traveled from San Antonio to attend the gala celebration.  She gave a moving tribute to the Housing Authority, saying, “All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,” and then thanking the Authority for giving her that courage.

Her story of going from a 16-year old high school drop out with two young children to a 28-year military career in the U.S. Army was an inspiration to all who attended.

In 2006 she was appointed U.S. Army Chief of Nursing Operations, Brooke Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. She retired from the service as a full colonel in 2009.

She attributed much of her success to the six years she lived in public housing while she attained her GED and a Bachelors Degree in Nursing from Villa Maria College.

Dr. Jay Badams, in his keynote address, noted that as many as one in five Erie children live in safe and affordable homes thanks to the Housing Authority, and that many of these children also benefit from the supplemental educational services that the organization provides. 

He said the Authority’s success in renovating buildings and uplifting people is a role model for Erie’s School District.   
Sam Hyman presented entertainment.  A public housing resident art and poetry exhibit preceded the dinner.