By Reena Gonzalez, Parks & Recreation Business Service Manager
On the edge of the Fun for All Playground in Stephen C. Beachy Central Park sits a bench where people can relax and watch children of all abilities play and adults with physical or limiting abilities enjoy the outdoors.
But it’s not just any bench.
The gift from Junction 505 honors the exemplary life of Marselaine “Marsy” Clarke, who passed away in November at the age of 89. Her decades of selfless work helping people with disabilities made the Fun for All Playground an especially fitting place for a memorial in her name.
Clarke was known for her generous heart and was dedicated to helping those with disabilities achieve their maximum potential and become productive citizens. However, her advocacy was based on more than kindness and empathy – her son, Andrew, was disabled and she understood the challenges.
Clarke rejected experts’ opinions about Andrew’s limitations and was determined to make him a true citizen of Bryan-College Station. She recognized the need for disabled residents in Bryan and College Station to find meaningful employment. In 1981, Clarke’s quest led her to co-found Geranium Junction, a sheltered horticulture workshop that employed otherwise unemployable citizens.
She chaired the workshop’s board as it evolved into Junction 505. Through Clarke’s engagements with businesses, she promoted the potential of people with disabilities and helped secure their employment. Today, J5O5 facilitates the jobs of nearly 100 disabled citizens through local businesses.
Clarke also contributed to planning and implementing activities to employ the disabled, including mobile crews for landscaping roadside parks and recycling operations at the city and county levels. In addition, she was a driving force in setting aside a block of apartments under a federal initiative that provides independent living for disabled citizens.
Among her proudest accomplishments was helping to organize the Junction Five-O-Five Foundation, which sponsors multiple fund-raising events, including Harvest Moon. The event raises funds for J505 and encourages awareness of the community contributions by citizens with disabilities.
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