Wednesday, June 5, 2013

50 Years, 50 Stories - Gary Stebick

This week’s edition of “50 Years, 50 Stories” comes from my friend and colleague Gary Stebick. As I mentioned in my story for this series, back in the 1980s, when we were both fresh faced new employees at Imagine!, neither of us planned on staying at the organization for more than a few months. Some 30 years later, we’re both still here. Gary’s story below helps to answer the question, "why?"

The Kindest Thing Anyone Ever Said To Me
By Gary Stebick

Gary Stebick (left) and his good friend Griggs.

I’ve been at Imagine! for more than 30 years, and there are hundreds of stories I could tell. But something an Imagine! client asked me once captures my whole experience at Imagine!, and demonstrates why I have stayed here so long.

For much of my time at Imagine!, I worked for Labor Source, helping people with developmental disabilities to find meaningful employment and contribute to their communities. One person I frequently worked with is named Griggs. Griggs had spent much of his early life in an institution, and had some pretty serious behavioral issues when he first began getting services from Imagine!. In fact, at one point we considered sending Griggs back to the institution because we weren’t sure we had the resources to help him to learn to manage his challenging behavior.

Fortunately, Griggs was given another chance, and over time not only did his behavior improve, but he became gainfully employed on a work crew and turned out to be a valued friend. To this day, whenever I hear his voice or see him, I try to say “hi” and chat with him for a few minutes, always making sure I remind him that he’s a good guy.

So, about 15 years ago while Griggs and I were driving to his job at Eco Cycle, out of the blue Griggs asked me (and Griggs almost always speaks in the third person), “Gary, if Griggs dies and goes to heaven, can he come back and see you sometimes? Because he will miss you.”

I told him I didn’t know how it works when someone dies, and I hoped that he would live for many more years, but if I was still around when he died I would sure appreciate it if he came to visit me because I would miss him, too. He didn’t say anything more, but it seemed to me by the look on his face that he was pleased with the answer.

I think it may be the kindest thing anyone ever said to me, and when work gets tough, I always try to remember those words to remind me why what we do at Imagine! is so important.

As much as I enjoy telling that story and reminiscing about the good old days at Imagine!, I am very excited about the many new things that are going on currently at Imagine!, especially through our clients’ use of technology. The way time flies, my tenure here will be finished soon enough, but I find great consolation in seeing the direction Imagine! is headed. We have a wonderful “new generation” of employees, and they continue to rise to the occasion time and time again as they encounter different challenges and opportunities than I had.

And I believe our greatest asset continues to be the people we serve, who have an incredible desire to be successful citizens in our community, and, like Griggs, to be appreciated for trying so hard to be good people.

Are you interested in sharing your story for “50 Years, 50 Stories?” If so, contact Caroline Siegfried at or 303-926-6405. We’d love to hear from you!


  1. This is so touching. What a guy Gary is!

    Nicole(Apel) Korey

  2. I am so proud of my little brother and the work he does. What a wonderful world this would be if it were filled with Gary Stebicks.

  3. "What a wonderful world this would be if it were filled with Gary Stebicks" Is such a solid & true statement! I couldn't have stated it better, as he is one of the most thoughtful, patient & kindest people I have ever come across! I feel truly blessed and grateful to call him my friend! You're awesome Gary Stebick!!! Jill J :)

  4. That's my fellow SUNY Brockport Alumni. I hope to make half of the impact you have made Gary in my years at Imagine! Your a rock star!!
    *Dale Marie