Founder of nonprofit food and aid organization dies
by Peter Burke
Jan 23, 2014 | 1398 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Annette Marcum in 2011. Peter Burke/Press-Banner
Annette Marcum in 2011. Peter Burke/Press-Banner
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Annette Marcum in 2010. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
Annette Marcum in 2010. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
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Annette Marcum in 2006. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
Annette Marcum in 2006. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
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Annette Marcum. Courtesy photo
Annette Marcum. Courtesy photo
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A memorial service will be held in early February for Annette Marcum, the founder and executive director of Valley Churches United Missions who died last weekend after battling a long-term lung ailment.

Marcum, 75, was perhaps the most well-known volunteer in the San Lorenzo Valley area.

She founded VCUM as its volunteer director in 1985 after heading up relief efforts from St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Ben Lomond during storms in 1982 that ravaged the San Lorenzo Valley with flooding and mudslides.

Marcum kept impeccable records, and during her 29 years as executive director of VCUM, she spearheaded the fundraising of $18 million in cash and donated items (through December 2012) while volunteering 54,155 hours herself.

Over the years she developed a thriving organization of volunteers with a $1 million annual budget with less than 5 percent administrative costs each year.

Key programs include the annual Christmas and Easter Projects and a weekly food bank in downtown Ben Lomond.

Fr. Michael Cross of St. John’s Catholic Church in Felton said the parish adopted Valley Churches as its charity arm.

“(Marcum’s) got tremendous integrity, she works hard, is appreciative and is dedicated to helping people,” Cross said the week before Marcum passed away.

“She is so appreciative for the help and generosity of people who work with her and the general public who have been so supportive,” Cross said. “(Valley Churches) is one of the most successful lay enterprises I know of.”

Marcum’s reach stretched throughout the county.

“She had such an extraordinary heart,” said Willy Elliot McCrea, the founder of Second Harvest Food Bank who knew Marcum for nearly three decades. “You could see that she gave everything, quite frankly at the expense of her health. It’s just going to be a huge hole. She was just one of a kind.”

McCrea said Marcum recognized needs and filled them. For example, she saw the need for a Saturday food panty in the valley and started it, because many of the people who needed food worked during the week and could only pick up food on the weekends.

McCrea also noted that Marcum had tenacity and perseverance in asking for, and securing donations.

“I always considered her a marketing genius,” he said. “People always understood the problem and all they could do to help.”

Former Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sharolynn Ullestad remembers a time when a business owner in Scotts Valley was down on his luck and came to Ullestad for help.

“I called Annette and within 24 hours she was helping him,” Ullestad said.

“It’s her heart,” Ullestad said. “She just has the biggest giving heart of anyone I know.”

Assemblyman Mark Stone was 5th District Santa Cruz County Supervisor for eight years and saw many of Marcum’s accomplishments.

“It is no accident that Annette is often portrayed as an angel,” Stone said the week before Marcum died. “She has been watching out for the poor and needy in our communities for so many years. She gives all of herself and asks nothing for herself. No one gives more. What she does ask is that we all, through Valley Churches United or in our own ways, help our neighbors, creating a stronger community. Annette is our Angel.”

Marcum helped form the original Valley Resource Center in 1987.

In the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, VCUM’s disaster program provided immediate direct aid to victims and more than $800,000 was raised with a 1 percent administrative cost.

Marcum’s work touched many in the valley.

Cathy Hanson of Boulder Creek was working as a nighttime caregiver in Scotts Valley while living in Boulder Creek during the late 1990s. She did not have a car to drive, so she hitchhiked home in the wee hours of the morning because her shift ended after the last bus left for Boulder Creek.

One night, Marcum came upon Hanson and offered here a ride home.

“Three days later she called and said she had a car for me,” Hanson said. “It was a 1985 Mazda RX-7. She gave that to me so that I would not have to hitchhike to work.”

Hanson said her granddaughter has now started to volunteer with the organization because of the many acts of kindness the family has received.

Personally, Marcum was a foster care parent of 10 children over 48 years, including three at her death. She was a community care home administrator for developmentally delayed and emotionally ill children and inspired her children and grandchildren to volunteer.

Marcum won numerous awards for her service, most notably a presidential recognition award from Ronald Reagan in 1988, a FEMA “Outstanding Public Service Award” for her leadership following the 1989 earthquake, an American Red Cross Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and was named the San Lorenzo Valley Chamber of Commerce “Woman of the Year” in 1982 and again in 2013.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 13005 Pine Street, in Boulder Creek.

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