Sharing Marlene Wilson’s Legacy

Laura Kinder, former Executive Director of Volunteer Connections Boulder County, Director Senior Companion Program, shares more about Marlene Wilson, her life, her legacy: 

Marlene Wilson is acknowledged as the Founding Mother of Volunteer Management. In 1968 she helped create The Volunteer and Information Center of Boulder County CO, the first volunteer center in Colorado and one of only a few across the United States. Now there are hundreds of volunteer centers, many modeled after or influenced by Marlene’s pioneering work in volunteer management. In 1972 Marlene designed and implemented the University of Colorado Volunteer Management Certificate Program serving as its faculty director for 25 years until the program ended in 1997.

Marlene wrote her first book in 1976, The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, the second book ever written about volunteer management. Her last book, Visionary Leadership in Volunteer Programs, Insight and Inspiration from the Speeches of Marlene Wilson, was written in 2008. Over her lifetime Marlene has assisted thousands of volunteer managers in their work of helping volunteers succeed in their efforts to serve their communities. She has been nationally and internationally honored including the Lifetime Member Award by the Association for Volunteer Administration and the Quality of Life Pacesetter Award presented by the Boulder Daily Camera.

During National Volunteer Week in 1991, President George H. Bush quoted Marlene, using her basic philosophy about volunteerism as a call to action, “Caring must strengthen into commitment and commitment into action.”

In a 2010 interview, Marlene was asked where does she draw her strength. Marlene answered “I am very spiritual, very faith-centered and have leaned heavily on that both in my career and personal life. I derive great strength from just knowing I am not alone and there is a plan for my life.” When asked what would she like written on her tombstone, without hesitation she replied “Marlene lived, loved, laughed a lot, and used what gifts God gave her on behalf of others.” For those of us who were personally touched by Marlene, those words describe her perfectly and are written in our hearts.

Services celebrating Marlene’s life will be held Friday, November 22 at Grace Lutheran Church in Boulder, at 1 pm.   All are welcome, and you can leave your own tribute to Marlene through the following link:

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