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Mark Francik: 50 Years at Search

This week we say a fond farewell to a very special member of the Search family. After 50 years of remarkable service, Mark Francik, Search Comptroller, is retiring. Mark is without a doubt our longest serving employee. His career at Search began in 1971, when he decided to volunteer for a small nonprofit in the Cabrini Green neighborhood located in a classic old Chicago settlement house. The total budget was less than $100,000 (it's now over $19 million) and we had less than 20 employees.

After a year, Mark made it official and joined Search as a paid staff in 1972.  For context, 1972 was the year five White House operatives are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee, the “Godfather” was released, ABBA was on top of the music charts, HBO launched as the first subscription cable service, and a brand new thing called a "video game"(Pong) was introduced. In 1972, almost 58% of Search's current employees had not yet been born.

We interviewed Mark to ask him a bit more about his favorite memories at Search and what’s to come in his retirement. Read more below:

Q: You started as a volunteer, can you tell us a bit more about that?

A: I came and volunteered at Search and realized it was the type of life I wanted to live. I wanted to find a good cause and dedicate myself to it.

Q: Can you tell us about your first role at Search?

A: My first role was an equivalent to a paraprofessional in the classroom. I did that for a year, then I connected with the bookkeeper at the time. They realized I knew how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, so that is how I became the new bookkeeper/HR/office assistant. At the time, the office had an “adding machine” that was electric so you didn’t have to pull the lever, but once that was gone, I had to use an abacus in the interim before electronic calculators came out.

Q: What was one of your favorite memories during your time at Search?

A: One of my favorite memories was during my first year in the classroom. I taught one of the students how to tie their shoes, and after 2-3 months working on it together, the student became more confident amongst their peers. Even with the little things, I felt that I was involved in something good and made the student’s lives better in smaller ways.

I also loved leading sing-a-longs every Friday with my guitar and two colleagues.

Q: Why did you stay around for so long?

A: I just love Search; it is a part of me. I have really no regrets – I can’t think of anything more rewarding than working here for all this time. It’ll never leave me.

Q: What are you going to do in your well-deserved time free time now?

A: I am going to spend time with my grandkids and travel out west. I am also going to brush up on my guitar skills and continue wood working.


Mark, Search will never be the same without you, but it will always be a special place because of you. Thank you and congratulations on your retirement!

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