Champion of the Month

Duane Church Share

Apr 1, 2021  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Mar­i­on native Duane Church cir­cled back home after trav­el­ing across the coun­try for his career. Now retired, he serves the com­mu­ni­ty out of his pas­sion for cycling, while improv­ing his neigh­bor­hood and vol­un­teer­ing with his church.

Church grad­u­at­ed from Mar­i­on High School, then earned a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing from Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty. He began his career in Ander­son with Del­co Remy, then moved to Geor­gia, then Michi­gan, and even spent time in Mex­i­co. He retired from Del­phi after most of his years work­ing for Gen­er­al Motors, and returned to Mar­i­on to care for his mother.

In 2008, he began vol­un­teer­ing for the Car­di­nal Green­way. As an avid bicy­clist, Church works hard to improve the Grant Coun­ty sec­tion of the Green­way – mow­ing, trim­ming trees, clean­ing up trash and debris, paint­ing, and main­tain­ing park bench­es. The Car­di­nal Green­way is a fan­tas­tic asset to Mar­i­on and Grant County…great for fam­i­lies. It’s run by vol­un­teers and com­plete­ly fund­ed by dona­tions. It’s won­der­ful to run, walk, or bike. It goes from Jones­boro to Sweetser. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is a 10-mile gap from Gas­ton to Jones­boro. Put a bike on the back of your car, and you can run’ the whole thing,” Church explained.

Church moved with­in Mar­i­on one year to an area that, at the time, did not have a neigh­bor­hood asso­ci­a­tion. After ask­ing around, he was con­nect­ed with the City of Mar­i­on Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion Coor­di­na­tor, Kay­la John­son, who encour­aged him to start one there. In Sept. 2018, the Sun­ny­crest-Weslea Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion was born. Church has since been lead­ing the asso­ci­a­tion with help from oth­er ded­i­cat­ed mem­bers. They inform neigh­bors through meet­ings with edu­ca­tion­al speak­ers, fliers, the Nextdoor app, and a Face­book Page. Meet­ings are held on the 3rd Mon­day of each month at Sun­ny­crest Unit­ed Methodist Church, and usu­al­ly attract 1 – 2 dozen peo­ple. We edu­cate neigh­bors on things like trash pick­up, large item pick­up, city codes, and try to work togeth­er to keep our neigh­bor­hood clean and safe. A lot of our neigh­bors don’t have com­put­ers, so we’ve even gone door-to-door to keep them informed,” said Church. Sun­ny­crest-Weslea sup­ports City events and activ­i­ties, and is sched­uled for their first cleanup this spring.

Kay­la John­son stat­ed, Duane’s lead­er­ship has been crit­i­cal to the sta­bil­i­ty of the Sun­ny­crest-West­lea Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion. He has influ­enced many neigh­bors to come togeth­er and learn resources for the bet­ter­ment of their neigh­bor­hood. He has host­ed speak­ers to learn more about civic process­es and give healthy feed­back at times. His ded­i­ca­tion is con­ta­gious, and he’s a joy to work with as a neigh­bor­hood leader.”

Church uses his peo­ple skills, inter­ests, and hob­bies to serve his com­mu­ni­ty. I like to get to know all my neigh­bors and meet new peo­ple. That’s why I vol­un­teer. The nice thing about rid­ing your bike around is that you can stop and talk to peo­ple as opposed to just pass­ing them by in a car.”

Church is also a mem­ber of Sun­ny­crest Unit­ed Methodist Church. He runs their sound sys­tem and is active with their com­mit­tees. He also vol­un­teers for spe­cial events held at the Mar­i­on Munic­i­pal Airport.

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