The Matt Urban Center suffered a tremendous loss with the recent passing of Mr. Earl Blacksheare.
Earl was the heart and soul of our Hope Center, where he worked for over a decade, performing intake with clients and making referrals to get them connected with the resources they needed. Earl’s big booming voice was the first people heard when they called the Hope Center, and his was the first face they saw when they came in for services. Earl was a bright light for many, helping guide them to the programs and services that they needed to improve their situations, whether it was assistance finding housing, benefits, or a hot meal.
Not only did Earl have a tremendous positive impact on those who came to the Hope Center for help – he also made a lasting impression on the people he worked with every day. Some of our staff shared their remembrances of Earl, in honor of his memory and their time spent working alongside him.
Earl was part of our family. Although you don’t come to work to gain friends, you kind of become family and learn to depend on them for a lot of different things. Earl left a blueprint for us and how we should treat people. We’re just going to miss him.
Every day for the last 4 and a half plus years, I’ve walked past Earl at his desk. We always had a very similar exchange when he first got to work for the day.
“Hey Earl, how’s it going?”
“I’m just groovy man, just groovy.”
I’ve missed that exchange every single day since he’s been gone. I remind myself every time I walk past his desk that Earl is “just groovy man, just groovy.”
Earl always knew it was me walking by because he always said I was running through the Hope Center, and that I moved too fast and didn’t know how to slow down. But if I was wearing a different pair of shoes compared to normal, he would stop me and ask me what I had on my feet. He was used to me wearing sneakers and being fairly quiet when I walked past him, but when winter crept in and I switched to boots, I had a whole new sound. He’d ask me to describe what I had on my feet to him so that way he could associate that sound with me coming up the hallway in my boots.
Earl always said “Good morning Melly Mel” and this was when I was walking into the building from behind him. I always wondered how he knew it was me before I even spoke to him or said anything. He will be greatly missed at Polonia Hall.
I didn’t work directly with Earl every day, and most of my interaction was over the phone, but even with calls that had no easy answer he was up for the challenge and ready to assist in any way. We’d often hang up with no real solution, only for my phone to ring a few minutes later with a bit more information that would point me in the right direction. You could hear his smile through every call.
Earl was such a kind, sincere person, and that came out in every interaction I had with him – from those phone calls where he would reach out seeking information for a client, but always made sure to take a few moments to find out how I was doing, or when I would say farewell on my way out of the Hope Center and he would say “alright Sarah, you take care and be safe out there.” The Hope Center and the Matt Urban Center as a whole was made a better place because of Earl’s presence.