Sherry Marion does not like the word “busy.” She prefers the term “fruitful.” And her days are filled with the fruit of her efforts both professionally and personally. From opening a coffeehouse to helping thousands of under-served Tri-Cities children, Sherry is truly a Remarkable Woman.
“I’m not a coffee drinker, which even makes it more funny,” she said.
Ask Marion, and she’ll say owning a coffee house was a foreign concept until her husband brought up the idea.
“Maybe eight or nine years ago, my husband had this idea, this dream of a seed that was planted in his heart from a book he read. And he said, ‘You know, one day, I think we’re going to have a coffee shop,'” she said.
Not one to run from a challenge, she dove in.
“We wanted to have a place where community could come together, community could happen, conversations, and of course a good product and great customer service,” Marion said.
Through years of research, planning, and preparing, Open Doors Coffeehouse in Johnson City was born.
It’s one of many dreams Marion has pursued. Another was a life-long desire to work with children, inspired by her own childhood.
“I didn’t know at the time, and my husband didn’t know at the time, but we would have been considered under-resourced kids,” she said. “Kids that were disadvantaged, perhaps, by their circumstances.”
So, Marion developed a program for young boys called Boys To Men, a group mentoring program. Soon after, she started Girlfriends, a group for girls.
“This thing was just bubbling in our hearts,” Marion said. “We didn’t know what it looked like, we sure didn’t know how to do it, we didn’t really have anyone to mentor us in it, so we, through a lot of prayer, going out and just doing it.”
Boys to Men and Girlfriends gave way to Rise Up!, a program that has helped thousands of kids in our region in its 28-year existence, and continues today. Rise Up! provides life skills and tools to underprivileged kids through group, mentoring, and after school programs.
“In all of that, we saw that there needed to be something else, like early intervention, so to speak, before the kids’ hearts got hardened, before they got into the system,” Marion said.
And Marion gets to see glimpses of the program’s success when former members reconnect.
“It’s good to see fruit,” she said. “You don’t always get to see your fruit.”
It’s one of many dreams Marion has shared with her husband, including adding to their family.
“So, we have eight kids total that have the last name ‘Marion’,” she said. “But, there are others along the way that have come to live with us for periods of time, a year, or two years. And, we have five adopted children”.
As her children are moving on to the next phases of their lives, Marion is also entering into a new chapter, including an empty nest. But with grandchildren visiting, the Marion house won’t stay quiet for long.
“It will be different for us. It will be very different. Because, we’ve never really been in a house by ourselves, ever, except for the first five or six months we were married,” she said.
Marion says she will take whatever comes next with an open mind and a lot of faith.
“That’s just a different flow. But, I’m really just really want to have a posture. That’s my word this year. Posture. I want to have a posture of this. Of openness,” she said.
A continued life of open arms, and open doors.