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Marsha’s Book Nook: Honoring a Friend & Serving the Community

By JCC Milwaukee June 21, 2023

Marsha’s Book Nook: Honoring a Friend & Serving the Community

In every community, there are individuals who leave a lasting mark on the lives of those around them. Marsha Denny (Z”L), a retired teacher known for her adventurous spirit and commitment to volunteerism, was such a person.

When she passed away two years ago, Marsha’s friends were determined to honor her memory in a meaningful way. “She loved working at the Pantry – her teaching soul would come out then, too,” said Sue Strait, past JCC Board Chair and Marsha’s best friend. “She frequently brought in books she’d collected for classroom use or purchased at Half Price Books to hand out to the children. Since her job at the Pantry was so important to her, along with teaching children, we decided to build on that love with a community service project.”

The vision for Marsha’s Book Nook was to create a quiet and comfortable corner of the Pantry for children accompanying their parents or grandparents to sit down and read or be read to. With the support of the JCC, an endowment fund was established. Marsha’s friends, family, and the community contributed both financially and through book donations to help bring this project to life. The Book Nook fund has provided bookshelves, bean bag chairs, soft flooring, and a big assortment of purchased and donated books for children of all ages, with an emphasis on providing books with multicultural and minority characters so children can see themselves reflected in the stories.

As the number of families visiting the Pantry continues to grow, so has the use of Marsha’s Book Nook. “Every week we see happy children and families using the Book Nook. Our Book Nook committee was also able to give out gift books to celebrate the winter holidays,” says Sue. “We feel that it’s a truly fitting way to remember our good friend.”

Marsha’s Book Nook stands as a heartfelt tribute to Marsha’s compassion and love for education. Through this project, her spirit lives on, bringing joy, imagination, and the transformative power of books to children and their families. As the Book Nook continues to encourage readers and foster community involvement, it serves as a reminder of the profound impact one person can make in a community.

To learn more about supporting Marsha’s Book Nook, please click here.

The Jewish Community Pantry, an effort co-sponsored by the JCC and the Women’s Philanthropy of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, provides emergency food to individuals and families in crisis throughout the greater Milwaukee community. The Pantry has recently added Tuesday evening service hours from 4:00 to 6:00 PM, ensuring families & individuals unable to come Thursday mornings can still receive the emergency food, diapers, and hygiene supplies they need.

Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2022-23 Annual Report.