As Project FIND celebrates 50 years of serving low- and moderate-income and homeless seniors in New York City, we look back on the men and women who helped take us to this golden anniversary.
Reverend Joseph Zorawick
Long before Project FIND was Project FIND, Reverend Joseph Zorawick was its champion. Thanks to his faith and partnership, Project FIND transformed from an idea to a full-service agency for Manhattan's older adults.
A New York City native, Joe grew up on Manhattan’s East Side. After receiving a calling from God, Joe enrolled at General Theological Seminary, graduating in 1966. He joined Christ & Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church on West 69th Street upon his graduation, and he became its rector two years later in 1968.
While at Saint Stephen’s, Joe met Elizabeth Treboni, Project FIND’s founder and first Executive Director, who asked Joe to run Project FIND's Coffeehouse program out of his church.
Joe agreed to house the then budding center at Saint Stephen’s, and though space and accessibility did not allow it to stay there for long, his relationship with Elizabeth continued to grow.
"Elizabeth was FIND," said Joe. "She was the driving force and why we are where we are today.”
Joe went on to join the board of Project FIND, eventually becoming its president. He served on the board for nearly three decades—with his responsibilities at times extending far beyond the usual expectations of a board member—leading and encouraging Project FIND’s earliest staff to keep fighting for the elderly.
“That time was always about finding money,” said Joe about the early stages of Project FIND. “There were so many organizations vying for limited funds, but Elizabeth made the plea, she got volunteers, and she had political friends.”
During his tenure on the board, Joe saw the organization through its acquisitions of the Hamilton and Woodstock hotels, and he even served as the building manager of Woodstock for a time.
“I never thought Project FIND wouldn’t last,” said Joe. “And when we got the Hamilton, it was solidified.”
In comparing the situation for low-income seniors then and now, Joe believes it is better than when Project FIND first began.
“People are now cognizant of the elderly, that there is a problem, and that it will be more of a problem as people live longer,” said Joe. “But New Yorkers are very good when there’s a need, and there’s nothing more worthwhile than saving the life of a human being.”