Marci Cullen does the little things
People Who Matter
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Occupation: Mercy Health System EMS Training Center
Family: Husband, Bob, and three daughters, Kaylee, Courtney and Claire.
Favorite book: "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett
Favorite movie: "Pretty Woman"
Mentor: "A woman I worked with in our church kitchen. She gave so much and taught and inspired me so much."
JANESVILLE In Marci Cullen's world, small often means big.
A meal here, a ride there.
A few minutes here, some sewing there.
"The smallest part of your day may be spent doing something for someone, and you don't realize it was just the biggest part of their day," Cullen said. "You keep doing it, and then you realize it's the biggest—most important—part of your day, too."
Inspired at a young age by a church hymn—"the gifts we have, we are given to share"—Cullen has become known for doing small things that become big deals to the people she's touched.
They've happened at her church, where's she's prepared food or delivered Holy Communion to homebound parishioners.
They've happened at the senior center, where she's delivered Meals on Wheels.
They've taken place in the community's schools, where Cullen has helped sew—among other things—hundreds of poodle skirts for the annual sock hops.
And they've happened at the Milton Community Action Food Pantry, which has benefited from Cullen's guiding hand in running the annual Christmas program for nearly two decades.
"I went to high school with her, and she was the person who was always starting something," said Micki Sockness, who with her husband, Jon, recently became more involved with the pantry's program and is seeing Cullen's work first-hand.
"All of her hard work and creativity helped to form the program into what it is today, and she successfully kept building on the ideas for a very long time," Sockness said.
"Until we became more involved, we didn't even fully realize the extent of her volunteerism."
Carol Hulbert, the pantry's food coordinator, is equally impressed.
Cullen has an encyclopedic mind when it comes to sources of help for the Christmas program, Hulbert said.
"They all knew that she was the woman to go to," Hulbert said, "She also seemed to know every detail about who needed what kind of help for the holidays.
"Then she seemed to be able to orchestrate it all with no problem."
Cullen said she sees opportunities and then does the little things to turn those opportunities into realities.
She prefers doing so quietly in the background. It's why you won't see her name atop charity letterheads.
"Everyone matters; some people just need help remembering it," Cullen said. "The biggest gift we can give is to make someone feel like they matter."
For Cullen, that took hold while she was helping an elderly woman in the kitchen at Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Milton.
"She had trouble lifting the heavy pans," Cullen recalls. "Doing what she was doing mattered to her, and I wanted to help her continue to feel like she mattered.
"She no longer can help but continues to be a great Christian lady who I will always admire."