NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Mary Hannick (1909 - 2011)
Mary Hannick thought it fitting she was born in Chicago, home to Jane Addams and the settlement house movement. As a child, Ms. Hannick moved to Rochester, NY, where she attended Blessed Sacrament parish and school and graduated from Monroe High School. Her first experience with settlement houses was at Rochester’s Charles Settlement House in 1937. Here she realized she had found her calling.
She served as director at Charles for seven years, and then briefly worked as a personnel counselor at the Eastman Kodak Co. At the onset of WW II, she determined that she wanted to be of help in the war effort. In 1945 Mary Hannick received orders from Richard Allen, Vice Chairman, National Red Cross in Washington D.C., to deploy to the European Theater. She traveled on the ship the George Washington arriving in LeHavre. She was stationed at various hospitals in Paris, Marseille, Mourmelon and Germany.
As a Red Cross hospital staff person, Mary did anything that was needed by the Armed Forces which meant arranging military leaves, visiting patients in wards, writing letters home for patients and counseling the men who had wives and children at home. She worked diligently helping where needed for 18 months.
Upon returning to Rochester at the conclusion of the War, she was hired as director of the Genesee Settlement House and served in this capacity for nearly a quarter-century. At Genesse, she guided a vast array of initiatives including an afterschool program, summer recreation camp and a program for the developmentally disabled. She created an environment that welcomed all regardless of race or language barrier, and made every effort to become acquainted with all families in the neighborhood.
Mary formed professional relationships with key individuals in the community, particularly with mayors, county executives and state assembly individuals. Steve May, a former mayor, presented her with a key to the city. On several occasions, she met with the current mayor, Bob Duffy, to be sure social issues of importance -childhood poverty in Rochester, after-school programs, et cetera- stayed in the foreground. When Mary turned 100 in 2009, both Bob Duffy and former mayor Bill Johnson honored her either by citation or presence at her 100th birthday party celebration at Nazareth College. Joseph Morelle, Assemblyman of the 132nd district in NYS called her the ‘guru of social work in Rochester’ and was instrumental in obtaining the citation from the New York State Assembly in 2009 honoring Mary on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
Mary continued to volunteer for the American Red Cross throughout her career. During the “March is Red Cross Month” celebration in 2009, Mary shared her volunteer story for a You Tube Video and in April, 2011, she was recognized by the American National Red Cross “Legacy Continues” Project for her contributions as a Red Cross hospital worker during World War II.
Mary Hannick's commitment to her profession and community continued during her retirement. She worked extensively on behalf of the developmentally disabled youth at Mary Cariola Children’s Center (where a room has been dedicated in her honor); served on the Board of Directors at Catholic Family Center and Volunteers of America; and served on the Advisory Committee for the social work program at Nazareth College. From 1984 to 2008, Mary was present at each of the site visits for Nazareth College’s social work program’s accreditation. At the last accreditation visit in April of 2008 -when she was 99- the site visitors commented she was intricately aware of the social work program’s relationship in the professional community and the work of the faculty and students and made sure that was acknowledged.