Members of the Community
John and Bonnie Marsh met in college. The young Bonnie was with her friends at an athletic event, and on a dare she playfully tossed her blanket over John’s head. They were later married, and the couple is now in their 90s. They’ve traveled the country and the world together, and decided 20 years ago to make Lynchburg their home.
“We were looking for an intellectual home,” Mr. Marsh said. “Lynchburg was immediately attractive to us.
Mr. Marsh, a World War II veteran, served in several underprivileged countries, and the couple was intrigued by the mission of Fort Hill Community School, which serves LCS students who are unable to remain in the traditional classroom setting.
“We joined up with the school with the idea that we personally in terms of our possessions, books and paintings and whatnot, had something we could share,” Mr. Marsh says. “We weren’t educators, we weren’t qualified professionally, but in effect we opened our house and the possessions we had to the faculty of the school for them to select and encourage our participation with the resources that we had.”
This sharing opportunity eventually led to the opening of the Marsh Library at Fort Hill Community School.
Mrs. Marsh says reading is such an important part of learning, and by giving a child a book you are opening up a whole world for them. “I think one of the reasons that the kids took to the library was the choice of books that we first gave to the library.”
But it’s not just a one-way relationship for the Marshes. They are regularly invited to and attend special events at the school, and students have written them several letters thanking them for sharing their possessions.
“They haven’t necessarily met us,” says Mr. Marsh, “But we are a part of the framework of this school as far as they are concerned.”