BOONTON — Marilyn Ward, President of the Board, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry and Gateway Community Resource Center President, was proclaimed on Monday, December 19, by the Boonton Town Council as its 2022 Citizen of the Year. Council Member Marie Devenezian read the Proclamation presented by The Town of Boonton.
Senator Joe Pennacchio and Assemblymen Jay Webber, Christian Barranco, and Brian Bergen issued a “Joint Legislative Resolution.”
We can think of no one better within our town of 9,000 who qualifies for such
acknowledgment at this moment.
A Boonton resident since 1964, Marilyn served as special education elementary teacher in
Boonton Schools for 30 years before retiring. During those years, she served as an officer of the NJEA union and represented Boonton’s public school teaching staff. Upon retirement, she took up a second career in retail with her late husband Jim to operate a flower shop in Blairstown for ten years.
Her second retirement was not the beginning of her voluntary leadership as Elder of Boonton’s First Presbyterian Church. For decades she was, and continues to be, a chief advocate for support of the mission beyond its doors. Community engagement is a gene inherited from her parents, with her mother the model of supporting public issues in the quest for justice. She recalls her mother going to any and all rallies or protests and sitting on her father’s shoulders at a coal miner union gathering to hear organizer John L. Lewis, Dad whispering praise of “a great man.” Within her lifetime of following in their footsteps of public service, it is Marilyn’s efforts of the past four years that have caused of
recent public acknowledgment and celebration.
At age 86, Marilyn has retained sufficient mental and physical strength for the past five years to provide the vision, inspiration, and vitality to offer current leadership for two new non-profit service organizations in Boonton. She provided inspirational leadership for officers and members of the First Presbyterian Church of Boonton to conduct two years of research and inquiry into the persisting and most urgent needs of local citizens for whom newly freed building space would be utilized.
The Loaves & Fishes Community Food Pantry was their first responsive venture in pursuit of that vision, subsequently joined by the Boonton United Methodist Church. 3.5 years into its mission, the LFCFP provides meals for an average of 110 households weekly, supported by some 100 community volunteers between the ages of 16 and 86.
Marilyn is Board President; click here for the website.
Not finished with capitalizing upon all the space made available by FPCB, Marilyn gathered a committee of 11 willing volunteers in 2021-22 (during which time she was widowed) to create and launch Gateway Community Resource Center as the second phase of response to local needs, providing an upgraded venue for hosting programs presented by established not-for-profit organizations at no cost to attendees. Opened in mid-September, many programs are now offered for help, education, and enrichment of persons needing affordable support services. Marilyn again serves as President of its volunteer Leadership Team. (Click here for more information)>
Though tiny in stature, her mind, and energy seem inexhaustible. She has the infectious gift of inspiring and persuading people of all ages to join her in these causes.
Marilyn Ward is a pied piper of volunteerism.