‘I’m here to help peple’

After 26 years, con­gres­sion­al aide An­namar­ie Feeney is still go­ing strong.

Anna Mar­ie Feeney, a long­time con­gres­sion­al aide, handles a lot of vet­er­ans is­sues. Here she is work­ing for Allyson Schwartz, in her of­fice on Castor Ave., Wed­nes­day, May 1, 2013, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Back in 1987, then-state Rep. and 54th Ward Demo­crat­ic lead­er Max Pievsky sent one of his com­mit­tee people, An­namar­ie Feeney, for a job in­ter­view as a con­gres­sion­al aide.

Feeney was offered and ac­cep­ted the job.

“Twenty-six years later, I’m still here,” she said.

The mem­ber of Con­gress has changed a couple of times. So has the loc­a­tion of the dis­trict of­fice. Even the con­gres­sion­al dis­trict num­ber changed fol­low­ing re­dis­trict­ing.

But Feeney has been the con­sist­ent go-to per­son for many people in the North­east who need help from their loc­al con­gres­sion­al of­fice.

Dur­ing Pub­lic Ser­vice Re­cog­ni­tion Week on May 5-11, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz said she be­lieves Feeney has been a ter­rif­ic pub­lic ser­vant. Schwartz called Feeney “steady” and “know­ledge­able,” adding that she can cut through gov­ern­ment red tape.

“An­namar­ie has been a very im­port­ant and valu­able as­set in the of­fice and for the con­stitu­ents in North­east Phil­adelphia,” the con­gress­wo­man said. “She has really won­der­ful per­son­al re­la­tion­ships with con­stitu­ents. They are her top pri­or­ity.”

Feeney, 65, is a Little Flower High School gradu­ate. She spent 30 years liv­ing in Ox­ford Circle and some time in the Far North­east. She even lived in Yard­ley, Bucks County, but only for less than a year.

“I hated it. I missed Phil­adelphia,” she said.

Today, she and her hus­band, Paul, live in the Ar­bours at Eagle Point, the de­vel­op­ment at Southamp­ton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard.

“It’s a great com­munity. The people are friendly,” she said.

Feeney, who has two adult chil­dren and two grand­chil­dren, was pre­vi­ously self-em­ployed in the ac­count­ing, in­come tax and real es­tate fields.

Long act­ive in polit­ics, she re­mains a 66th Ward com­mit­tee­wo­man, along with her daugh­ter Michele Si­letta.

Feeney’s first con­gres­sion­al boss was Rep. Bob Bor­ski, who re­tired in 2002. The 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict of­fice was loc­ated at 7141 Frank­ford Ave.

Rep. Joe Hoef­fel, who had rep­res­en­ted a Mont­gomery County dis­trict, re­placed Bor­ski in the new city/sub­urb­an 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. The of­fice moved a block north to 7219 Frank­ford Ave. Hoef­fel left in 2004, los­ing a chal­lenge to Sen. Ar­len Specter.

Schwartz re­placed Hoef­fel and kept his of­fice for eight years. However, Rep. Bob Brady took Schwartz’s ter­rit­ory east of Frank­ford Av­en­ue in the latest re­dis­trict­ing, and the of­fice re­lo­cated in Decem­ber to 7712 Castor Ave. in Rhawn­hurst.

The phone num­ber hasn’t changed over the years. It’s al­ways been 215-335-3355.

“We still get phone calls ask­ing for Bob Bor­ski,” Feeney said.

So, which boss did Feeney like the best?

“I love them all,” she said.

The 13th dis­trict will have a new rep­res­ent­at­ive in 2015, since Schwartz is run­ning for gov­ernor next year.

“I think she’d be a fab­ulous gov­ernor,” Feeney said.

If Schwartz were to be­come gov­ernor, it’s pos­sible Feeney could land a spot on her staff.

But, Feeney prefers work­ing at the fed­er­al level.

“I love the job and I love the people,” she said.

Feeney would be will­ing to work for the next con­gres­sion­al rep­res­ent­at­ive.

“I’ve been very for­tu­nate to get picked up by each con­gressper­son,” she said. “I’m hop­ing who­ever wins the seat picks me up. They’re all good can­did­ates.”

At the start, she was a con­stitu­ent ser­vice rep­res­ent­at­ive. At present, she serves as a seni­or con­stitu­ent ser­vice rep­res­ent­at­ive.

“I’ve been here so long, they made me a seni­or,” she joked.

Feeney told co-work­er Ter­rell John­son, who star­ted re­cently, that he will grow to love the job. Also work­ing at the Castor Av­en­ue of­fice on a part-time basis is Rob Bor­ski, the ex-con­gress­man’s son and re­cent Temple gradu­ate. Schwartz also has an of­fice in Abing­ton.

Over the years, Feeney said she’s worked with some great people, in­clud­ing Jack De­mp­sey, the dis­trict dir­ect­or un­der Bor­ski and Hoef­fel.

On the job, she handles is­sues such as Medi­care, So­cial Se­cur­ity, IRS, Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, im­mig­ra­tion, pass­ports and fed­er­al em­ploy­ee re­tire­ment be­ne­fits.

“It’s such a re­ward­ing job,” she said. “We do help a lot of people.”

Feeney re­calls one wo­man who was un­able to ob­tain a pass­port be­cause she didn’t have a prop­er Pennsylvania birth cer­ti­fic­ate. Thanks to the con­gres­sion­al of­fice, the pass­port is­sue was re­solved the day be­fore the wo­man was go­ing away to an is­land re­sort.

“She was cry­ing, she was so happy,” Feeney re­called.

Al­though Feeney and her cur­rent and former bosses are staunch Demo­crats, she said a dis­trict con­gres­sion­al of­fice is there to help all con­stitu­ents. Some­times, people call and say, “I’m a Re­pub­lic­an,” be­fore ask­ing for help. Feeney’s re­sponse is, “So?”

Feeney is humbled whenev­er she re­ceives thank you cards, candy and flowers from ap­pre­ci­at­ive con­stitu­ents, but said the gifts aren’t ne­ces­sary.

“That’s my job. I’m here to help people,” she said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus