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Marlene Emery

Marlene Emery has established several endowment funds that give to charitable organizations in the community, supporting education, culture, health care and family.  Her charitable giving through the Lawrence County Community Foundation will continue to give financial support to community needs forever. 

Marlene’s philanthropy involves much more than money. It raises public awareness concerning community needs.  Emery was sold on the concept of a community foundation just three years after the idea got off the ground in Lawrence County . With $1,000 per fund, Emery established a variety of funds. Public awareness campaigns encouraged others to donate to those and other funds that were opening at the same time. Once funds reached a three-year average balance of $5,000 or more, grants may be made to those special interest projects several times per year – forever.

"You don't have to have a million dollars to establish funds or to donate to existing Lawrence County Community Foundation funds," Emery said. "With $1,000 now - instead of thinking you'll do something in the future – start a fund now and let it build. We've been very fortunate to have so many different people in the community willing to work and give their time and resources to the Foundation."

The first fund Emery opened was in memory of her parents Opal and Freeda Casada. Her mother, a homemaker, died in June 1983. Her father, a concrete mason, died in February 1993.

Another fund Emery founded was for seniors.  "Funds for the elderly are really needed," Emery said. "People tend to forget about the elderly. Establishing this fund made me aware of just how much you can do in that field. . . It has built awareness," she added. "It makes people think they can do something too."  The fund makes it possible for grants to be made as often as twice per year for projects that benefit Lawrence County 's senior citizens.

Emery continued creating funds, many of which support her adult children's widely different interests.  Emery's generosity also reaches out to Lawrence County families and to people with cultural interests. She established a fund in honor of her former mother-in-law, Joan Emery Prentiss, to help families caring for a terminally ill loved one.  She also opened the Mr. and Mrs. J. Grant Moore fund for cultural arts in memory of her friends.  With an interest in art herself, Emery initiated a fund for Indiana University students and another fund to support the IU Museum of Art. 

Emery said she opened the funds to support a wide array of community organizations because she felt a deep responsibility to give back to the community. She said her parents were great role models, having spent their lives helping people in quiet ways. Growing up in the Christian religion influenced her philanthropic philosophy.  "Giving is where you get the most joy," Emery said. "It's better to give than to receive."

There are many benefits in being a donor, according to Emery.  "It's so great while you are still alive to see these funds working and accomplishing things," she said. "It's a selfish thing too. It's really great to enjoy funds that are enabling groups to do things they aren't [otherwise] able to do or to reach more people they might not be able to reach and see it all growing while you are still alive. It's great satisfaction."

Emery's greatest satisfaction is watching the Limestone Girls Club fund grow and strengthen programs for local girls.  "My favorite fund isn't one of these," she said, referring to the funds she personally established. "It's the Girls Club. It's my real love. I think it will do so much for the girls in Bedford . I like all the funds. Each one is wonderful. But the one that means the most to me is the Girls Club. I think at this time, girls especially are under so many pressures, and they need a place to feel safe and to be with good role models and to receive opportunities where they can develop in sports, hobbies and reading. I feel a real commitment to that. The community has always had a good boys club program, and I think the girls deserve at least that much."  Emery is a 1954 graduate of Bedford High School . She earned a degree from DePauw University in 1960. She is a former school teacher and has owned Fit for Life since it was founded in 1985.

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