While working, I started with the Christmas stockings Valley Churches United Missions put into the community. I was raised in an orphanage and a recipient of generosity. I knew what joy it was to get brand new presents. When the 1989 earthquake hit, I was out of work so I had time to volunteer. My best memory was this. A man came with his 3-year-old daughter came to Mt. Cross to pick up food and her gifts. He was drunk. There Annette stood and I will never forget this moment. She had red hair, red sweats, and a wooden cross around neck. She was smoking and had on red lipstick. I felt I was looking at a tough woman with a great heart. Very quietly she said “It was good of you to come here and let us help you give your family a better Christmas. But you shouldn’t have done it while drinking. I am going to have someone drive your daughter in their car and another person drive you and your truck home. I just can’t let you drive off in this condition in. I want you to have a Happy Holiday and be there for you family tomorrow.”
That kindness of sprit was what was touched me. VCUM has wonderful staff and volunteers because of her. I read this in an article where Annette was quoted
"When you treat them with dignity when they come, that's the most important thing," says Marcum. "They go away feeling a whole lot better about themselves and they can take better care of their families and that's what makes the difference."
She believed this and lived it.
I was hooked on how good I felt. I have volunteered at VCUM ever since.
Rosemary Abell, Ben Lomond
We woke up to rain on Jan. 4, 1982 and it didn't stop raining all day, not even for a second, just a continuous downpour. Soon the hills began to slide and the rivers and streams overflowed. I went down to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church to help out. The neighbors from Riverside Avenue were sleeping on the floor of the church's parish hall. They cooked foods from their freezers and we brought lanterns and blankets and pillows. I set up a board to list where people were staying so families who had been separated could find each other. Annette Marcum came and brought in the Red Cross and quickly got us organized.
That spring I was working on the process of starting a preschool for St. Andrew's. One of the state’s requirements was that we have an account with six months revenues to back us up. I couldn't begin to imagine how I would get that kind of money. Enter Annette. Soon we had a chicken barbeque in our church parking lot, complete with music and a silent auction. With just one event she had earned the funds we needed. My problem was solved and so we were able to start St. Andrew's Preschool.
I worked with Annette on many projects over the years and it was like being in the middle of a hurricane. She had the ability to bring in folks from all over to help out, she was amazingly organized and she had boundless energy. She leaves a huge vacuum in the San Lorenzo Valley and will be very much missed.
Sharon Fishel, retired director St. Andrews Preschool
It was a true pleasure to have known Annette and an honor to have served under her at Valley Churches. Annette was unlike any other person I have ever known and amazing in every sense of the word. Annette and VCUM have helped me and been there for me through very tough times and I will be forever grateful.
Linda Meyer, Ben Lomond
In honor of our Annette Marcum:
It is with honor that I write this on behalf of the Valley Churches United Missions Board of Directors, and, I believe, on behalf of so many people in this community because Annette belonged to us all!
In her passing, Annette left us all an opportunity to carry on with the good work. We know that she started it because she saw an immediate need when the storms of 1982 hit, but given her conviction and tenacity she pressed on to form VCUM, watching the need grow and matching it with unrelenting effort.
How many people in our community, not in the political realm, have touched so many? They are few, they are precious. We have a tendency to say that people who eat, sleep and breathe their work “have no life.” Not true in this case. Many of us can attest to just how much Annette did live—she just did it for folks in need, and if people she met along the way didn’t already do the same she talked them into it, or at least donating to it. That is Annette’s legacy. She led by example, logging over 54,700 volunteer hours herself and convincing many, many people to give of themselves, either by hands-on effort or with monetary donation as it certainly takes both.
At VCUM, success is measured by the quantity of people assisted and the quality of the help provided. With that being the barometer, VCUM has enjoyed great success over the past 30-plus years. The evidence is clear. With her shepherding, VCUM has grown steadily, serving more and helping more each year through the committed volunteers and the loving donations given so generously and consistently.
So now, thanks to Annette Marcum, we have the opportunity, and challenge (and she did like to challenge), not only to continue the good work but to do what she would have done — do more and do it better! To that end, we, the board, remain committed to support Operations Director Linda Lovelace, Administrative Assistant Linda Meyer and that famous team of wonderful volunteers as we all carry on with the life that Annette called Valley Churches United Missions.
We had the good fortune of getting a letter to Annette, just in time, informing her of our intention to dedicate the building in her name and to name after her, the senior program fund, which will now be called “The Annette Marcum Senior Project.” We understand that she smiled at hearing this. There she goes again, spreading joy, even in her last moments!
In summary I offer this prayer which conveys the spirit that I heard many times from Annette.
Heavenly Father, we ask that you help and guide us as we go forward in service to those in our community in need of assistance. We ask your blessing on those less fortunate and we just thank you so much God for the wonderful volunteers that make all of this happen. Oh, and God, please have a word with those that are fortunate enough to share the wealth! (I can just hear that sweet chuckle of hers.)
Annette Marcum, our friend, our guide, our spirit and, of course, our angel, we thank you, we love you!
Andy Immel, VCUM Board of Directors