By Sandi Waibel
Race Relations Facilitator and AAHC member
Brooklyn, NY was a splendid place to interrelate with people of diverse races, nationalities, and religions. Marie Pittman’s neighborhood was diverse, yet very inclusive – there were no strangers there.
Her mother (from Jamaica) and father (from Barbados) raised five children of their own, two godchildren, and a niece, yet took in children whose parents were in need. Her mother had three mantras: Have faith in God, follow the Golden Rule, and live your life to make a difference. With love and positive experiences, her parents taught their children how to live productive lives and how to survive discrimination. They also instilled in their children independence, curiosity, and a love of education and travel. College was an expectation for all of them.
Marie graduated from Hunter College and earned her master’s from the New York School of Social Work, (now part of Columbia University). She was encouraged to make a difference professionally and through volunteer work. She began volunteering in Girl Scouts, and continued with undertakings, such as Volunteers of America, Help Lines, and work with domestic violence, foster care, and adoption.
Her most satisfying work was as an administrator in the Auxiliary Education Career Unit of New York City’s Board of Education, which created non-traditional methods for paraprofessionals to attend college and become teachers in city schools. For fun, in addition to travel, she played short fielder for the Long Island SemiProfessional American Girls Fast Pitch Softball League. She retired as a teacher and assistant principal, but her volunteer efforts continue.
Marie has two daughters, a deceased son, four grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Her family describes her as loving, compassionate, vivacious, resilient, a strong believer in family and education, and very “cool.” Marie lives in Park View, so if you haven’t met her, introduce yourself. You’ll know immediately why she says that she “never met a stranger.”