Joanne Borders didn't have time to accomplish much on York City Council, having served for less than a year.

But the 67-year-old left an indelible mark on the community long before she took office, fighting to improve the lives of her neighbors and inspiring others to do the same.

Borders died Monday night after a long battle with cancer.

The council now has a month to appoint someone to Borders' seat until next year's election. And it just so happens there's a corps of community activists out there, some mentored by Borders herself.

The recipient of the 2009 York Humanitarian Award felt everyone was able to contribute something to the community.

"I know that we can't do everything, but we all can do something," Borders said during her acceptance speech.

She, actually, did quite a lot for York.

Borders was a founding member of the York chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and was involved with the South George Street Community Partnership, the Atkins House of York, Crispus Attucks' Girls Achieving Pure Potential program, the National Leadership Corps and the Salem Square Neighborhood Association.

She also served as a community organizer with the York City Police Department, launching the Stand Up For Your Community meetings last year in response to a rash of street violence.


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As news of her passing spread Monday night, her influence became clear: Condolences poured in from a Who's Who list of community activists and leaders, many who credited Borders for their work.

Borders "taught me grassroots efforts make a difference, to take ownership and pride in your community, that everyone can do something, how to be a community builder and mobilizer," wrote Stephanie Seaton, executive director of the city's Human Relations Commission.

"She let me know that your disability is an ability because you can pick up the phone and call people and make a difference," said community activist Noreen Dorsey-Freeland. "She taught me everything that I know."

Perhaps it will be someone like these women who fills Borders' seat for the next year. But whoever is chosen, that person shouldn't think of themselves as a replacement.

"Someone can do her job," said Kim Hibner, a retired York City police officer who worked with Borders on Dollars for Scholars, "but no one can ever replace her."