Our service Spotlight for June is John and Mary Merrill. John started volunteering in 2018, while Mary has become involved more recently.
"I was born in California while my father was stationed there in the Navy, but spent most of my growing up years in Cincinnati. My wife and I met on a blind date, we are both graduates of Ohio State University…yes, we are Buckeye transplants! We were married in 1975, and spent part of our camping honeymoon in Michigan," says John.
John and Mary continued to spend some of their vacations in Michigan, and eventually purchased land near Cross Village in 1991.
"We built an outhouse on the property, and enjoyed annual camping trips there with our three children until 2009, when we built a more permanent structure that we could use on a year-round basis...essentially a two car garage with apartment above," he says.
In 2016, the two retired from Ohio University, and soon broke ground for a new home on the Michigan property. The Merrills have been living here full-time since 2017.
The couple enjoys doing community service, which is what attracted them to Manna. John is a regular Food Rescue volunteer and has helped with our mobile pantry at Odawa Casino. John and Mary have also been helping us assemble food boxes, pack backpacks, and prepare produce (like the asparagus in the picture) during the pandemic. They also volunteer with the Little Traverse Conservancy.
While at home, they spend time cultivating gardens with native plant species, or going out hiking trails in the local preserves or the North Country Trail.
Thank you for your service, John and Mary!