By Wes Sims | KUSP News
Update: After the publication of this article, Annette Marcum passed away – on January 18, 2014.
Ten people died in January of 1982, when winter rains caused a landslide that swept away the Love Creek neighborhood of Ben Lomond. To help survivors of the landslide, Ben Lomond’s Saint Andrews Episcopal Church turned to a member of the parish who had only recently asked to be assigned to community outreach. That January, Annette Marcum wrote out a steady stream of $500-dollar and $1,000 checks in emergency aid, totaling $37,000.
Marcum commented in a 1982 interview produced by KTVU: “Now they have their mortgage payment to make and homes that they can’t live in. And they gotta go out and get another place to rent. God knows if they’ll ever get back into their homes. We don’t know, with fears of more slides or whatever’s gonna happen. So what we’re trying to do, it’s not a whole lot of money, but what we give them, it brings them up.”
From Disaster, a New Charity
Annette Marcum organized ten local churches into an alliance of giving that would become Valley Churches United Missions. She says having the agency already established made a difference when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck in October of 1989.
“We were able to distribute in cash and items over $800,000 with that earthquake within the very first two days starting out with it,” she says. “You need immediate direct aid in times of disaster and all year long. And you need immediate direct aid when you walk into a food pantry and have food on your table, and receive that.”
Marcum continues to lead Valley Churches United as its volunteer director, helping to provide emergency food services, throughout the year. On any given day, she can be found at Valley Churches distribution center in Ben Lomond, checking in with her army of volunteers.
After so much work over the years, I ask if she’s getting tired.
“You know, it’s difficult for me,” she says, “I’m 75 now, with my 32 years of service. But then I think, well I guess I still got a little bit left here and direction is needed, and until I can’t any more, I guess I will direct.”
Annette Marcum believes a commitment to service is what really keeps her going.