BRANT BEACH, N.J. — Constance Becraft, a 25-year employee of St. Francis Community Center here, has replaced Robert Hazlett, Ph.D., who retired last month.
Hazlett served 25 years as executive director and is credited with greatly expanding the center and implementing many social service programs that improved the community.
The highly-respected Hazlett was feted at a retirement Mass and brunch reception on June 22, attended by more than 200 people, including local town dignitaries and community leaders from Long Beach Island. The 9 a.m. Mass was celebrated by Stephen Kluge, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, which during the summer operates four churches in the South Jersey community.
Before directing the center, Hazlett was director of St. Francis Counseling Services for 10 years. Under his leadership, the center has grown from a small parish operation to more than 150 staff members.
Some of the programs the center has started in the past 25 years include the Ocean County Sexual Abuse and Assault Program, counseling for veterans and low-income families, programs for parents who have either lost or may lose custody of their children, a nationally certified, licensed pre-school program, pre-school tuition assistance programs for low-income working parents, county-wide services to Spanish-speaking children and families, adult substance abuse treatment, and the Ocean County Adult Basic Education Consortium.
Among the friars participating in the June 22 retirement event were the friars pictured above, with Hazlett and his wife: William Scullion, OFM, Stephen Kluge, Jeffery Jordan, OFM, Charles Miller, OFM, who served for seven years as a family therapist in the 1980s at the community center, and Thomas Conway, OFM.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, contributes frequently to HNP Today.