James F. Scharping
Executive Director

James Scharping

1937 – 2024

(Holley) James F. Scharping “Unc”, age 86, passed away January 15, 2024 at LeRoy Village Green Nursing Home with his great-niece Rebecca by his side. He was born April 19, 1937 in Albion, a son of the late Vernon and Catherine (Hurd) Scharping and had lived in this area all of his life.

James was best known as the former owner of the Holley Hotel. He was a member of the Holley First Presbyterian Church, Holley Masonic Lodge and was the former Executive Director for Orleans County Community Action. James spent a great deal of time on the family farm on Hurd Road and loved spending time at his cottage in Kuckville.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother Richard Scharping and his sister Ann Rohland.

He is survived by several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

To share a memory of James, visit www.mitchellfamilyfuneralhomes.com

Bonnie B. Malakie
Director of Children & Youth Services
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee

Jim Scharping served as the Leader of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, Inc. until his retirement in 2005. As the article from his retirement event states, he began by directing the Holley Center and then became Executive Director. During his tenure the agency began providing services in Genesee County, which included purchasing the land and constructing our current facility on Clinton Street Road. New programs were started and we grew to be an agency with a large variety of programs to live-out the agency mission. Under his competent leadership the agency kept its original focus of providing services to “help people help themselves”! It is not sufficient to state that he touched the lives of many in the time he was here. It would be more accurate to say he helped change the lives of thousands and always did it with dignity and respect!!

Jim had many interests and much knowledge to share. He was truly a “gentle giant” and cared deeply for his family, his Community Action Family (all who worked here and who volunteered), and all those he had a chance to serve. I don’t recall him complaining about others or being critical. He was a true peacemaker and very effective negotiator. He was well-respected, and always, always kind. He had an open door, listened to concerns and empowered people to make decisions needed. There are limited staff and Board members remaining who knew Jim well. Those of us who did recall the fun we would have with him, how he was well-known and respected in county, state and national organizations, and the difference he made to so many. Thoughts and memories from some other staff are captured below. There are few people in one’s life who provide the encouragement and confidence to others that Jim did. He was truly unique in this way. He was also extremely humble and never wanted to be acknowledged for his work or helping others. It was just a part of who he was and it came naturally. Many of us learned from him and became better people because of his example and guidance!

As I sat through his funeral service last week, I was reminded of the tremendous love and support he displayed for his family, church, community and those of us connected to Community Action! He lived his life loving and serving others! He will forever live in our hearts and be a pillar of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, Inc.

There are so many great stories that it is hard to put it into words and be brief about things….

Let me start by saying I meet Jim in 1984 through Robert Sheehan, Gordy Tooley and Claudette who were employees of Community Action in Genesee County at the Masse Mall in Batavia. Jim was second in command at that time and Mr. Pulley was the Executive Director. I was unemployed doing side jobs and pretty much roaming the streets and looking for trouble. I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant and had to change my ways. I was receiving help from social services in 1986 – 1987 so that my girlfriend to get the pre-natal care she needed. Back then if you were an able bodied male and were receiving help from DSS you had to work off the help that you received. Social Services handed me a list of agencies that I could work my help off. Community Action was one of them. I said I know some peoples there and that may be a good place for me. I showed up the next day and spoke with Bobby and Jim. They were very happy to have my services. Well that turned into my career.

A few days after that Jim approached me and asked if we could have a conversation. Have to admit, it was a little scary walking into his office. He looked like a King sitting there on his throne. He asked me if I would like a job on the Weatherization crew. I accepted and was very grateful. It was only on the job for two weeks and learned that once a month they had a food give away. I was put in charge of getting 5 rental U-hauls as large as we could get and go to the cold storage in Holley and they would fill it up with cheese and butter as well as other canned goods and such. Well, what a journey that was the first time. Jim handed me a list of people that were on social services and said pick 5 off the list and I will call them. No problem right. Nope! What a process of getting these trucks all the same time and for a few days. Getting them loaded and locking them up. At that time I was a green horn and it was not an easy process to say the least. I can remember telling Jim that I need more help that I cannot do all this by myself. I felt over whelmed by it all. He got up and said SOSH, I don’t care what you have to do and I don’t want to know, please get our CHEESE trucks filled and ready for action the next day. Low and behold I was able to get that accomplished.

I made an impression on Jim and he saw something about me that I didn’t even know. We had great times at the NYSCAA & NYSWDA conferences that we went to 4 times a year. His door was always open and always listened to what you had to say. He always had an answer to your questions.

Most of all, as my mentor he had a way with words as well. Some words of wisdom from Jim were words I’ll never forget and I share them to this day.

He once told me in his office at the beginning of my career: Sosh, “Just be you, you will do”. “surround yourself with good people and you will be just fine”

Jim will be missed and he was a legend in the non-profit world. Rest in Peace my friend. You will be truly missed by all.

James B. Soccio
Weatherization Program Manager
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee

Cathy Brien
Weatherization Operations Assistant
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee

Jim Scharping was the Executive Director when I started at Community Action in the Fiscal office in 1995. I worked directly with Ed Fancher at that time until he took over as Executive Director in 2005. I believe that Jim was a wonderful mentor & teacher for Ed that got him rolling right into the Executive Director position with flying colors! I remember Jim as being a very kind, considerate, intelligent & friendly person that had a good sense of humor. He was also a champion for community involvement. I have talked to quite a few ex-employees & a few that are still here that worked under his leadership. They all are saddened by his passing but have some precious memories with him. Jim leaves behind a great legacy & I hope that he realized what a wonderful influence he left on so many people. I pray that he has reunited with Ed again & they are both looking over us all. May they both Rest in Peace!!

I met Jim Scharping 24 years ago. At that time, he was the Executive Director of Community Action. Jim would visit the Holley Community Center often and enjoyed visiting with the patrons that utilized our services. Jim had an amazing,warm heart for people going through rough times and always wanted to find a solution to help them.

Not only was he an advocate for the programs at the Community Center, and Community Action as a whole, but he was an advocate for the people in our communities and the struggles they endured. Jim would often take people into his home that needed guidance and a place to stay. He loved animals and people alike, and shared that love whenever possible. He had a small farm with cows, chickens, and pigs that he took great pride in and was able to instill that love for animals in those whom he sheltered.

When Jim retired from Community Action, he continued to have lunch with us at the Community Center. Jim would love visiting and having lunch with his “girls,” as he called us. Jim would make the very best potato salad and baked beans for our Annual Picnic every year; anyone who has attended this event, can attest to his delectable dishes. He loved to cook for special occasions; yet, another way to share his love with others. Jim was an asset to our community during his employment and into retirement. We are forever grateful to have had Jim on our team and in our family at the Community Center.

Deborah Rothmund
Coordinator / Case Manager
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee

Janet Foppes
Infant – Todler Specialist | Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee

Jim Scharping was the Executive Director of Community Action when I began working here in 2002. One of the first times I met him was at a full staff meeting at the Apple Grove in Albion. My husband was supposed to pick me up afterwards, but there was a misunderstanding, and he ended up being almost an hour late. As I waited out on the steps, Mr. Scharping came over and sat on the steps with me. He explained that he had locked his keys in his car, so he had to wait for someone to come help him out. He sat and chatted with me, putting me very much at ease, even after AAA came and got his car unlocked; and stayed until my husband arrived. When I saw him after that, he would smile and thank me for ‘keeping him company’ while he waited for AAA. And that was the kind of man he was. – Very open and friendly, treating everyone he met with the dignity and respect that he vigorously promoted as a foundation for Community Action. They weren’t just words to him. They were his way of life.

I remember when Mr. Sharping was given the charge of the Executive Director of Community Action . I have to admit I was concerned about what direction the agency was going to move in . In a short time , I stopped holding my breath and exhaled. He modeled his expectation for those of us he guided, with an approach of respect. He demonstrated to serve not just with an approach of tolerance, but one of acceptance. When I think of Mr. Sharping is warm outreach to others and of course ,his welcoming smile.

Freddie K. Stewart
Head Start Training & Development Manager
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee

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