CCJ founder and special projects director Iverson to be honored upon her retirement this month
Diane Iverson has long been a face of Prescott’s Coalition for Compassion and Justice, the non-profit agency that provides meals, clothing, shelter, housing and hope to the city’s most vulnerable individuals and families.
In addition to being a champion of the lost, the lonely and those who need a compassionate shoulder to lean on sometimes, Iverson is an artist and author.
But now, at the age of 68, she has retired from CCJ — 18 years since she founded it and began serving as special projects director. She will be honored with a brunch at the Prescott United Methodist Church from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Mar. 24. RSVPs are requested and can be made through the CCJ website: www.yavapaiccj.org
“It’s a hard thing to do,” she said of her decision to retire. “And I’ll still be doing anything I can to support CCJ because my heart is there.”
Yet she said she is confident that CCJ is in “such a good place,” with staff well able to continue the multi-faceted mission of caring for those who are homeless or living on the edge of poverty.
“When you’ve worked somewhere from the beginning, you feel a certain amount of attachment and concern for the organization,” she said. “So what I wanted was a time when I felt absolutely confident that things were going to just get better going forward whether I’m there or not. And this is that time.”
Gail Haugland, CCJ’s director of finance and human resources, said Iverson has left a legacy of love that is a model for all to embrace.
“She is just a good-hearted, kind person who has such compassion for our clients, especially the families and the children,” said Haugland of Iverson, who launched numerous family programs, as well as the latest CCJ project, “The Little Tree House,” located in donated space at the United Methodist Church on West Gurley Street.
The current headquarters of all other CCJ programs, and the now two-year-old shelter, is on Madison Avenue.
“It’s hard even to describe what Diane means to me,” Haugland said. “She’s become my friend, my confidante, my mentor in a lot of ways. She always just has a heart of love for even the people who are hardest to love. Diane can always find the treasure in someone.”
In her time with CCJ, Diane has penned and illustrated a couple of children’s books that speak to the power of love, despite life circumstances, including homelessness. Two of her stories, “When I Dream” and “Hannah’s Heart,” served as fundraisers for CCJ with proceeds from sales donated to the agency.
“Hannah’s Heart,” a historic tale of a ranch family in Depression-era Prescott, is being turned into a play that will be performed at the Elks Theatre at Christmastime this year. Iverson will play an integral role in that endeavor and is also considering writing a sequel.
She’s an avid birder and also teaches nature sketching at the Highlands Nature Center. Her next two-week class is scheduled for April.
The mother of two adult daughters who live in California, Iverson said she has seven grandchildren, ranging in age from 27 to 3, who she hopes to visit on travels with her husband, Doug.
“I won’t be sitting home in a rocking chair; you can count on that, or, if I am, it will only be when I have a kid in my lap,” she said.
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