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In Memory of Marge...
Posted on January 02 2015
For more than a decade, Marge Quillen was synonymous with the Hope House of Scott County. Marge worked for 14 years at the domestic violence shelter, serving in many capacities, but most recently as executive director.
Last month, Marge, who had been a truck driver, gone to hair school, served in the military, worked as an information correspondent for the Kingsport Times-News and spent countless hours helping victims of domestic violence, died at the age of 73.
"Marge didn't care where you had been, what you had done, where you came from, what you had or didn't have. That never mattered to Marge. It was where you are today and where you are going to be six months from now, a year from now and how can we help you get to where you need to be," said Michelle Hensley, who worked with Marge as the Hope House's community educator.
Dan Gmyrek is the chairman of the Hope House's board of directors and says he thinks Marge's whole life prepared her for the work she did at the Hope House.
"There was her military experience, the family that she raised. She knew how to be an administrator and she could be the sergeant when she needed to be the sergeant. But she was caring and compassionate. It was the perfect mixture for what you needed to be for this job," Gmyrek said.
The Hope House of Scott County, Inc. opened its doors in 1996 and is a 22-bed facility for women and children. It is a private, non-profit agency, funded by money granted by the state and federal governments, United Way, private foundations and donations from community organizations and individuals.
The shelter serves people from Scott, Lee, Wise, Dickenson, Russell and Buchanan counties and the city of Norton who have been physically, emotionally, psychologically, sexually or verbally abused by a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, husband, ex-husband or same-sex partner.
Michelle says as hard as the past few weeks have been at the Hope House without Marge at the helm, the shelter's work must continue.
"Even though it's been emotionally difficult losing her, we've been going on with business as usual — making sure the clients get the services that they need, that we can provide the services in the community that we need to provide, contacting resources, even things like making sure the residents have a good Christmas. Personally, emotionally, it's painful, but we have business to do," said Michelle.
Dr. Charlene Grigsby is on the Hope House's board of directors and says Marge wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
"She'd want us to take care of business first. She'd tell us, 'Cry on your own time,'" Gmyrek joked.
And, Gmyrek adds, fortunately for the staff and residents of the Hope House, Marge was the kind of leader that has left the shelter in capable hands.
"One of the real blessings of Marge was she was a teacher. There's a lot of people, especially executives, who like to hold on to everything. Marge was the exact opposite. She was the type that, for anybody that wants to learn, she wanted them to learn and she was happy for them to learn and would go out of her way to make sure they had the experience they wanted and needed," Gmyrek said.
Those who knew and worked with Marge know that she left some big shoes to fill. Gmyrek says the board of directors will meet after the holidays and begin discussions on naming a new director.
"The need for the Hope House goes on. That's undiminished. We have the here and now to deal with. There's a need and we're going to be here for that need," he said.
Grigsby says, for Marge, it was always about finding the positives and moving forward.
"Learn from your past, but don't dwell on it. Marge is going to be missed and people are going to notice a void," she said.
Because the Hope House depends heavily on support from the community, Grigsby hopes Marge's absence will inspire others to step up and help the shelter in some way.
"Hopefully, we can turn this loss into a positive and find the good in a bad situation," she said.
"That would be the best memorial to Marge," said Gmyrek. "She took every life experience as it came. She took every person as they came, however they came. Our job now is to honor her, to keep the house going."For more information on the Hope House of Scott County, or to learn about volunteer opportunities or other ways you can help, call (276) 386-1373.