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Prevent Blindess Georgia colleagues reflect on loss of Pomeroy
by Bobby Tedder
btedder@neighbornewspapers.com
July 31, 2013 12:12 PM | 1467 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jenny Pomeroy
Jenny Pomeroy
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By all accounts, Jenny Pomeroy was a force of nature in the world of nonprofits and good causes.

Pomeroy served as president/CEO of Midtown-based nonprofit Prevent Blindness Georgia for 17 years until her death earlier this month.

Though her memorial service today is essentially the final chapter of a public life of accomplishment, staffers and co-workers vow to use Pomeroy’s work as a guiding light in this, the darkest of times.

 In remembrance

Those close to Pomeroy are quick to rattle off elements of her personality and outlook that make for a rather cohesive character description.

“Jenny never said no, … always had an amazing number of things on her plate, said Laurie Irby, vice president of children’s programs at the nonprofit. “She was very meticulous and detail-oriented; she wanted things done the right way.”

That mentality served Pomeroy and her constituency well — amid a results-driven environment — during her time at the helm.

About 3,500 children in 26 counties received vision screenings during Pomeroy’s first year at the helm of the nonprofit in 1996. Last year, nearly 36,000 youth were screened in 89 counties.

Irby came aboard the organization only a couple of months after Pomeroy.

She recalled her late colleague’s penchant for resourcefulness, creativity and thinking outside the box. Those attributes paid off in the form of partnerships with agencies across the state, outreach initiatives targeting the homeless and working poor and training programs for prospective screeners.

“I guess what underlies everything is that [from the beginning], Jenny was very clear about her purpose in life, which was Prevent Blindness Georgia’s mission — literally, prevent blindness,” said Irby. “And so everything Jenny did focus on that.”

 The future

Pomeroy’s noted vision and attention to detail included crafting the nonprofit’s leadership transition upon her retirement, planned for later this year.

Pomeroy’s death July 15 after an adverse reaction to an insect bite has only served to escalate matters.

Ellen McCarty, hired in February, is acting CEO of the organization.

“I think that my goal is to build on the legacy that Jenny has left,” said McCarty. “The greatest way for us to honor her is to take what she created and take it further … further the mission.”

In reflecting on Pomeroy’s longtime presence-turned deafening absence at the nonprofit, co-workers also recalled her personal makeup.

An indefatigable “good friend who liked to laugh” is how Barbara Myers remembered Pomeroy.

“Jenny was selfless — a servant leader,” said Myers, director of public education and advocacy at the nonprofit.

To illustrate her point, Myers shared stories like the time Pomeroy gave up the convertible she adored for an SUV simply because she could not fit all her vision screening equipment into the car.

Since Pomeroy’s death, Myers and company have pledged to soldier on in the fight to prevent blindness and preserve sight for those at risk in her memory.

As an extra source of solace, though, they referenced a favorite line of Pomeroy’s from “Winnie the Pooh.”

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.”

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