ELKHART -- Church Community Service paid tribute to its retiring leader and passed the torch onto his successor at a party Monday evening.
Nearly 200 friends, family and CCS workers gathered to honor Dean Preheim-Bartel after five years of service as the organization's executive director.
At the end of the evening, Preheim-Bartel announced Rod Roberson, currently the director of Back-2-School Elkhart, as his replacement.
"It's very humbling to even be considered to do this," said Roberson, who learned of his hiring earlier that day. "I pale in comparison to the things Dean was able to accomplish."
Roberson will officially take over the reins on March 1. He hopes to continue Preheim-Bartel's legacy by emphasizing unity of different organizations and churches.
"It's such a good feeling," Roberson said. "Where else can you do the things you love to do, be good with good people while you're doing it and practice your faith without it being an impediment?"
Among the 15 speakers honoring Preheim-Bartel were his wife, fellow community leaders and CCS co-workers. They sang, laughed, cried and even threw in some good-natured roasting.
"You taught us how to love our cause, how to love our clients, how to love our community and -- most importantly -- how to love our God," said Habitat for Humanity executive director Tom McArthur in a letter from 11 other nonprofit organization leaders.
"You took the baton from (former CCS director) Jeni (Umble)," said Mayor Dick Moore to Preheim-Bartel. "And you took the organization to a new level."