Encore Career: Molly McFadden

Adventure is not only for the young; it’s for anybody living and breathing.

I learned this lesson last year, just before my 63rd birthday, when I accepted a new job at the Cleveland Furniture Bank (CFB) and left my home in Michigan.

My friends thought my husband and I were CRAZY for uprooting our lives and starting fresh. But, Cleveland brought me closer to my daughter, who had recently planted roots here, and we were ready for a change. In all honesty, we were surprised that—of all places—we were moving to Cleveland. Many moons ago we were Manhattan locals who joined the chorus of humorous side cracks about this city (and Ohio overall) being America’s wasteland. Boy we were wrong. Cleveland is one of the coolest cities in America… but I digress.

So, we packed up our home on the shores of Pure Michigan, and settled in on the banks of Lake Erie. Through the past year I have discovered the vibrancy this city has to offer: music, theater, young people, a thriving downtown, amazing sports culture, and so much more. But, of course, any pro-Cleveland list will tell you that.

My real journey began at the Cleveland Furniture Bank, where I found a completely renewed sense of purpose in my life. The CFB provides furnishing to local individuals who are transitioning out of homelessness. The organization works with more than 250 agencies to help men and women achieve a fresh start in a comfortably furnished home.

Accepting this job was a challenge for both myself and the CFB as they never had anyone on board for marketing. I, for one, had never worked for a nonprofit organization, such as this one. We both approached my work this year a little foggy eyed and uncertain. But one thing has become clear. Through my 40-odd years in marketing and sales (and even the performing arts!) I am now realizing I have always yearned to give back in my work. My career has been a colorful patchwork of stints in churches, theater and restaurant industry, and more. One common thread, across all jobs and projects, has remained my desire to serve others.

Among the many wonderful Clevelanders I’ve met, I’ve found that this servant mindset is part of this city’s DNA. Considering the growth and resurgence Cleveland has witnessed throughout the past decade, there are limitless examples of how Clevelanders give back to—or believe in—their city.

That’s why they call it “Believeland,” right? While we’re confident in Cleveland’s comeback we are still keenly aware of its desperate needs.

I’ve learned that furniture plays a powerful, albeit silent, role in our lives. It’s a pillow on a bed for a woman in her 60’s to dream about her next journey. It’s a desk for a young, struggling student. It’s a dinner table for a family to come together and re-establish their lost traditions. We are all indebted to the use of furniture to live fulfilling lives.

That’s my journey now: to uplift an organization that has provided this essential service to individuals in Cleveland for more than 10 years. The CFB is about empowerment, and about helping our neighbors throughout Northeast Ohio re-establish their lives with gently used household furnishing at no cost.

Thank you Cleveland for this new adventure with the Cleveland Furniture Bank. Yes, I am over 60 and what a gift that is with this new found position I am learning that making a “living” is not the same thing as ‘making a life’, as quoted by Maya Angelou.

If you would like to be spotlighted in your non-profit encore career please reach out to Brian Schultz

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Molly McFadden: While living in New York in the 80s, Molly had the opportunity of singing at a variety of clubs and concerts in Manhattan with Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, and Nancy Wilson; all of whom encouraged her to never give up. Molly is a stylist of note and was featured in the New York Times as an up and coming performer in a disappearing genre. In the supper clubs and jazz jaunts Molly performed with musicians such as the legendary trumpeter Joe Wilder, Bassist Dick Romoff and Gary Mazzaroppi, and Colin Romoff as one of her many pianists.

Molly also was the Executive Director for the Michigan Jazz Trail for five years while she and her husband owned and operated Molly’s Bistro in MidMichigan. Her enthusiasm for promoting the jazz art form was demonstrated by her ability to turn dreams into reality, coordinating with like-minded community leaders and by serving as the Michigan Jazz Trail’s primary fundraiser and highly visible spokesperson. Molly held this position since its inception in 2011 until 2015.

Molly now resides in Cleveland with her husband and together they are working on a variety of projects ranging from a  musical to their own original jazz standards