Volunteering on a variety of efforts to protect the natural environment for future generations and working with young children who will one day benefit from those efforts provide the focus for two women being honored this year as Citizens of the Years.
The Years category recognizes long-term commitment to the community not limited to efforts of one calendar year. The 2017 selection committee agreed with nominators that Marlene Hoffmann’s long-time commitment to environmental issues and causes as well as Marsha McQueen’s continuing work with young people merit recognition in that Years category.
Hoffmann has held many volunteer positions as a tireless supporter of the environment including service as president of the Oxford chapter of the Audubon Society, chair of Oxford’s Environmental Commission, a member of both the Oxford Museum Association and Three Valley Conservation Trust as well as working on the Save Our Span Board.
“Marlene has been a champion of our beautiful landscape, a passionate environmental advocate and preserver of our historical treasures,” wrote Patricia Kaufman in a nomination letter.
McQueen, a teacher at Marshall Elementary, has taken the lead for several years in a spring lock-in to raise money for diabetes research as well as awareness of the disease. She also coordinates the school’s fall food drive to benefit the Oxford Community Choice Pantry, and when the Oxford Kiwanis Club formed a K-Kids group at the school, she volunteered to serve as volunteer faculty advisor.
“Marsha McQueen is a dedicated teacher, but she has a larger dedication to our community and especially to our youth. What an example she is,” wrote Brad and Barb Cotterman in a nomination letter.
The Kaufman nomination of Hoffmann for the local honor noted that she was a “most capable and considerate nurse at McCullough-Hyde Hospital but shared her talents outside of her job in making Oxford a better community.
“Starting in 1989, she served on the Audubon board as well as offering her leadership as president of the Oxford chapter from 1992-1995. She has organized the Audubon bird seed sale for over 20 years. She was in charge of the native plant sale for Audubon for eight years. And one only has to gaze at her garden on Chestnut Street to see she has created a visual feast as well as a smorgasbord for butterflies, birds and insects,” Kaufman wrote.
She went on to write that Hoffmann served as the first chair of the city’s Environmental Commission from 1992-2000 and started the Save Our Span Board to raise funds and restore the Pugh Mill covered bridge (1997-2000) as well as volunteering with the Oxford Museum Association.
“Marlene has always been an enthusiastic supporter of community events and causes, the nomination stated. “And last but not least, she has been an integral member of the Three Valley Conservation Trust that has put into conservation over 22,000 acres of farmland habitat. She worked for many as the chair of the Auction committee and the annual Gala that raised funds for the work that TVCT does,” Kaufman wrote.
Another nomination letter pointed all those same interests and local environmental concerns, but also stressed Hoffmann’s concerns for people, not only in her professional capacity as a nurse but in all other settings as well.
“Marlene is the type of person who will sit on the floor of an airplane for hours with a total stranger as she did while en route to Ireland when a fellow passenger lost consciousness,” wrote Kathie Brinkman. “Marlene is the type of person who will help a friend off a mountain in Tucson after a bad fall. I was that person and it took three hours to climb down that mountain with a broken and dislocated shoulder.”
Kaufman summed up her nomination by writing, “Marlene is not an individual who sits back and complains about problems. She is a positive force for making Oxford the community that we can be proud of.”
The Kiwanis Club’s Marshall School K-Kids group was chartered for fourth and fifth graders in 2016 and McQueen immediately became the volunteer faculty advisor, working with a group of enthusiastic young people who compete for membership and then plan their activities and projects.
The Cotterman nomination noted she gives much of her personal time to the K-Kids program, working with them at such activities as the Salvation Army bell-ringing, Kiwanis Pancake Day and volunteering to host a children’s craft table at the Oxford Museum Association’s Apple Butter festival.
Brad Cotterman said he first met McQueen when the K-Kids formed at Marshall and called her “a bundle of energy.”
She has coordinated the overnight lock-in program in the spring for several years with games and activities for children at the school but the fun has a serious purpose. The children participate in order to raise money and awareness for juvenile diabetes.
She coordinates a highly successful food drive during November each year with the school’s fourth and fifth graders to help provide food to residents of the school district through the local pantry. This year’s food drive resulted in a donation of 1,920 pounds of food.
Another project Cotterman helped with was “Lids for Kids” as Marshall School acquired benches made of plastic lids.
“They needed 3,000 pounds of lids. They were bagged – sort of – and you have to sort them because some types of lids are not appropriate. There is a size limit also,” Cotterman said. “Marsha and the kids would sort them and then she needed a vehicle to carry them to Evansville, Ind. She asked for a vehicle and had one within hours – a 26-foot trailer.”
He said it made for a “full day” because the lids had to be transported and then the benches and picnic tables brought back.
“There were two eight-foot benches and two eight-foot picnic tables loaded on with a forklift,” Cotterman said. “Marsha took charge of the whole thing. Her husband met us (at the school) with enough volunteers to off-load the stuff.”
Looking back on that project as well as all the others involving McQueen, which also includes being youth leader at Oxford Baptist Church, Cotterman is in awe of her accomplishments.
“She manages to get it done,” he said.