Date of BirthDecember 06, 1954

Jane Deborah Sanders Obituary

Date of BirthDecember 06, 1954

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Date of PassingJanuary 25, 2017

Jane Deborah Sanders Obituary

from Philadelphia, Massachusetts, United States

NEW HAVEN, CT - Jane Levine Sanders, Executive Director Of Community Action of Franklin, Hampshire and North Quabbin Regions from 1996-2011, died on January 25 at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT. The immediate cause of death was complications from pneumonia.Her husband, Richard Sanders, who was with her at her passing, said that Jane had been sick since they returned to live in western Massachusetts from Portland, Oregon, where they had lived since 2011. She was hospitalized, continuously, since September 28. Jane, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1973, soon after she and Richard met, struggled with health issues for many years. She was among the early cohort of patients treated with radiation therapy, in her case, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York City. A significant number of this generation of survivors confronted numerous serious health challenges, as result of the radiation treatments. Until this last illness, time and again over the next 43 years, Jane was able to overcome these health challenges and become a transformative community organizer and activist, particularly in western Massachusetts.One of her favorite quotes captures Jane's view of living life fully, with passion, compassion and commitment. In the words of George Bernard Shaw: "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no 'brief candle' to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for a moment. And, I want to make it burn as brightly as possible, before handing it on to future generations." Jane was a mentor, friend and inspiration to scores of people and was deeply proud of the wonderful work so many of them have done as community organizers, activists, organizational leaders and, simply, committed citizens of their communities and the world.Jane Deborah Levine was born on December 5, 1954 and grew up in Highland Park, New Jersey. She graduated from Douglass College of Rutgers University, with a dual major in Music and Comparative Arts. She and Richard Sanders met, in 1973, at a camp founded by her immigrant grandparents and later run by her parents, David and Aileen Levine. Jane and Richard married in May 1974.After graduation, she worked at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Later, Jane and Richard moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where they both worked as community organizers, she for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council. In 1978, they moved to western Massachusetts where they worked, again as community organizers in Springfield, for Massachusetts Fair Share, a statewide citizen action organization.In 1979, at 24 years of age, Jane joined with Jane Frey and Jane Schraft - the 'Three Janes' - to create a shelter for abused women and their children, in Holyoke. Womanshelter/Companeras opened in 1980, with Jane as the lead staff/administrator. Jane held this position for five years and during this time also served as the president of the MA Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups.Jane left western Massachusetts, for a year, to live and work in Philadelphia, where she was the Executive Director of Voyage House, a nationally recognized center for runaway and homeless youth and their families that included an adolescent sexual assault project, a host home shelter program, a counseling center and preventive services.In 1986, she returned to western Massachusetts to become the first Executive Director of the Community Adolescent Resource and Education Center, in Holyoke. Also known as the CARE Center, this bilingual/bicultural organization established an alternative school for young mothers, a licensed day care center, a drop-out prevention program, a motivation/prevention program for middle school students and facilitated a city-wide teen pregnancy prevention coalition.In 1996, Jane became the Executive Director of the Franklin Community Action Corporation, which later merged with the Hampshire Communication Action Corporation to become Community Action of Franklin, Hampshire and North Quabbin Regions. Under Jane's leadership, the organization quadrupled in size and created over 20 new programs, ultimately employing over 300 staff and serving more than 27,000 people. Jane was especially proud of creating an annual Rural Poverty Conference that brought together citizens, organizers and advocates, along with elected officials, to dig deeper into identifying the challenges facing small towns and rural communities and finding creative solutions that would build on the vitality and strengths of the people who lived there.Jane was a key member of the group that established the Community Health Center of Franklin County and served on the Board for 15 years. Over her more than 30 years of organizing and activism in western Massachusetts, she also served on the boards of Franklin/Hampshire Regional Employment Board, the Massachusetts Association for Community Action and Rural Development, Inc. In addition, she was a founding member of the Western Mass. Women's Network/Women's Statewide Legislative Network; a Board member of the Housing Allowance Program (HAP), in Springfield; a western Mass. Board member of the Haymarket Foundation; and, a Board member of Housing and Economic Resources for Women.Jane loved children - all children. Such a large part of her life and work was dedicated to creating spaces and places where children could find love, joy and safety, as well as opportunity to grow into happy, healthy and caring human beings. In 1990, Jane's life and passion for children and families, reached a deeper level when she became the mother of Benjamin, who provided her with great joy and happiness for the rest of her life. Jane was a spectacularly great mother, who demonstrated, every day, how loving parents could nurture happy, caring human beings.And, she never lost her love for music. Her tastes were eclectic and the effects of music, on Jane, were electric. She never stopped playing - and practicing - piano. However, her greatest musical joy always came from being part of musical communities. She so loved singing with the group, Amandla, in western Mass. and the Portland Peace Choir, in Portland Oregon.Community Action Executive Director, Clare Higgins, said, "Jane had core belief in the dignity of all people, a passionate commitment to justice for everyone, and a deep empathy for the challenges that the participants in Community Action's programs face every day. Her spirit lives on in the work we all do every day. For those of you who knew Jane, you know that the world is a little dimmer today without her light." Jane is survived by her loving and beloved husband of more than 42 years, Richard, of Hatfield, MA; her wonderful son, Benjamin, of Bothell, WA; her mother Aileen, of Delray Beach, FL; her sister Amy, of Monroe Township, NJ; her brother, Gary, of St. Petersburg, FL; an aunt and uncle, cousins, nieces and nephews. And, hundreds of friends in Massachusetts and across the country.A memorial service/celebration of Jane will be held at Greenfield Community College on March 25 at 2 p.m. Donations honoring Jane's memory can be made to the Jane Sanders Community Action Fund for Women, Children and Families at Community Action, 393 Main St. Greenfield MA 01301.
This obituary is administered by:
~ Steven Arevalo ~

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