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FACES of Benton County

Marilyn Katcher, ninth nomination to the Family Nurturing Council’s Faces of Benton County campaign

Meet Marilyn Katcher, a Vinton resident who spends a good portion of her days volunteering throughout the community.

Marilyn is the ninth nomination to the Family Nurturing Council’s Faces of Benton County campaign. Marilyn was nominated by Barb Rego, director of Wesley United Methodist Church Food Pantry.

“Marilyn is very active in helping people in the community. She works every Tuesday at the store [Seventh-day Adventist Church Community Services Center] that gives free clothing to people in need,” Barb wrote on Marilyn’s nomination form. “I have contacted her several times asking for coats for kids.”

“Twelve years I have worked here,” Marilyn said of her work at the store which is open every Tuesday to provide clothing, household items, small appliances, and toys to people and families. The store also has professional clothing for women beginning a new job or preparing for an interview, as well as formal dresses suitable for prom.

“Young people with school-age kids…working people…who we serve mostly,” Marilyn said. “But we are open to anyone. All for free…I’ve come down a lot of times [to open the store] for fire victims…they get out with their lives…A lot of foster parents who take in children use our store.”

Right now the store is working on a campaign to collect preemie outfits, Marilyn said, for babies who will be entering foster care. Those items will be donated to St. Luke’s Birth Care Center in Cedar Rapids.

From 2006 to 2008, Marilyn worked in the building that now houses the store—409 A Avenue—with her daughter Kelly who owned and operated Kelly’s Klutter, an antiques business.

“Then the flood [of 2008] came, so she [Kelly] closed the shop…no one wanted antiques at that point,” Marilyn explained. “I worked in the antique shop, I knew where everything was in that store…Jo Ann Mayhew and I are real good friends. [Seventh-day Adventist Church] had outgrown the building out on 218.”

Everything just came together and Marilyn has been present every Tuesday at the store for the last twelve years, missing only due to surgery.

Marilyn grew up on a farm near Waverly. She retired in 2001 from Zoetis Inc. in Charles City where she worked in a lab on animal vaccines. Her husband Leroy—who also volunteers in the community—retired from over the road trucking.

“I do miss the work,” Marilyn said of her career. “When you’re a farm girl, you always have chores to do…I think that work ethic sticks with you.”

Barb Rego also nominated Marilyn for her work at Wesley’s food pantry where she organizes volunteers to help with deliveries and unloading of food every month.

“Someone recently told me ‘Wow, you’re everywhere in this town’,” Marilyn said with a laugh before adding, “We just want people to go out [from the store] with a smile.”

Thank you, Marilyn, for being an everyday hero and a force for good in our community!