Most of us feel we need a lot of volunteers, ideally an experienced area team, to help us put on programs in our areas. But one person, Marlene Duet in Covington, LA, does this all by herself! Since 1999, she has single-handedly put on nearly 70 programs at her home. Over the years, Kevin Todeschi, Barbara Lane, Nancy and Sid Kirkpatrick, and many others have presented programs there. And she has more wonderful programs coming up. On July 28, 2018, Maria Shaw will lead a program on “Astrology for Family Relationship and Karma Clearing.” Pat Belisle will be there on October 13, doing his program “We Are One: Healing Divisiveness and Finding Commonality.” John Van Auken will be her speaker on February 16, 2019, talking on “Edgar Cayce’s Vision of our Soul Life and Destiny.”
Earlier this year I teamed up with A.R.E. members in Memphis to go to Louisiana and see Marlene in action. To say Marlene is a “one man show” is no exaggeration. She arranges for the speakers, does the publicity herself (she makes up a simple flyer that she mails out), and acts as registrar. She normally picks up the speaker at the New Orleans airport, furnishes them a place to stay at her home, and drives them the hour back to the airport after the program. She provides coffee and breakfast for people who get there before the program starts. She also provides lunch (sandwich fixings and salads), since there are few restaurant choices in her immediate area.
When we arrived the night before the program, she had the furniture in her living room pushed aside and chairs set up for about 60 people. There were many tables throughout the house with bowls of food covered with plastic wrap. The refrigerator was bulging with dishes that needed to be refrigerated for the next day. The pool table was cleared off and ready for books to be sold. She allowed a couple of us to stay at her home that night and she fed us a delicious supper. At that point, she must have been exhausted from all her preparations, but she was still a gracious hostess. The next morning, she scurried around to make coffee, put out breakfast, greet people, take any last-minute registrations and payments, and make final lunch preparations. During breaks she and her daughter Angela processed book sales, although a couple of us were able to pitch in and help with that. We all marveled at how organized and efficient she was – and the program went off “without a hitch.” One of her study group members washed dishes after lunch, and some participants helped her clean up at the end of the day, but, other than that, Marlene did everything.
Besides having programs at her home, Marlene is tireless in helping bring the Cayce information to people in other areas. Programs had not been held at Lake DeGray State Park in Arkansas for four years (after a 24-year history of programs there) until Marlene started talking up the idea. She functioned as registrar for that event for the past two years. She was also the registrar at the Palestine, TX retreat for 18 years prior to her “retirement” this spring. Now her goal is to get programs started in Mississippi. Judging from her track record, you can bet she’ll be successful at that—and probably anything else she makes up her mind to do! Thank you, Marlene, for all your work for A.R.E.!
Marlene serves as an example for all of us. Next time we are frustrated in our respective areas because we have so few volunteers or we think that putting on programs is beyond our capability, remember the power of one determined person with a vision.
Gretchen Douthit is the Arkansas Area Team Leader and Member of the Southeast Region Core Team.