Marie Wilbanks: making our community brighter and warmer
There are many working pieces in Pickaway County that helps the community function as one. The combined effort of leaders, volunteers, business owners, and big thinkers is what makes Pickaway County so unique – and it’s evident from the different events, businesses, and organizations that call this area home.
One woman who is viewed as an inspirational woman in our area is the Director of Services at the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities – though many know her as Marie Wilbanks. Marie has been working with the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities for 15 years and was able to speak with us about her role.
“I oversee the supports available for eligible participants who are age three through life. I am also in charge of maintaining compliance, and I coordinate all of the investigations that occur within our field for people in-county,” Marie explained about her part at the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “None of that sounds especially interesting, but I do get to do fun stuff, too. We are pretty creative with some of the projects we host and promote. That’s the good stuff. We’ve pulled off FAME (fashion, art, music, entertainment) for several years now. We host March Madness basketball events every year with all our school districts and Special Olympians. Every October we host a Business Awards Night to highlight businesses and employees who are supportive of Employment First.”
Aside from being involved with the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities and being a huge part of what makes things happen there, Marie is involved in helping out other organizations throughout Pickaway County.
“One of the best parts of my job is making connections and feeling free to be active in our community,” Marie admits.
Marie is on the Haven House Board, the newly Vice-Chair of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), the President of our local Toastmasters, a member of Sunrise Rotary, and is involved in Special Olympics.
“[We are] always looking for new people who want to improve their public speaking skills,” Marie shared as she spoke about being the President for the local Toastmasters, going on to add: “I also want to give a shout-out to our local Family and Children First Council. I’ve had a chance to work quite a bit with its Executive Director, Kim Martin, and a bunch of other amazing, service-oriented superheroes. They quietly make an immeasurable difference in our community. As part of participation in Family and Children First Council, I get to be Vice-Chair of Teen Task Force, which is a group that addresses needs and gaps for teens in our community. Again, there’s some really impressive work happening by people flying a little under the radar.”
While a part of so many great things happening in Pickaway County, Marie admits that though she is from Ross County, Pickaway County is her community.
“I hope to work here always. I’ve had opportunities for employment in other counties but can’t imagine leaving. I doubt any other job would put me within walking distance of Wittich’s,” she confessed, adding a little wink to the end of her sentence.
Marie’s presence in the Pickaway County community is definitely seen and welcomed by those who know her. From my own personal experience with Marie, she has definitely been a kind, uplifting, supportive person to be around and that’s evident in the way she works, both in her job and the different areas she’s volunteering. When asked about the most rewarding part of her job, she opened up about the different areas of encouragement it brings to her.
“There are so many parts of this job that give me a lift. I don’t have as much direct contact as I used to with the people who receive services because the Director role is much more about oversight of employees,” she stated. “Having said that, I’m SO PROUD of the team of people I’ve built over the last few years. I get to problem-solve and learn and laugh with this group of talented, energetic, passionate people. The most rewarding part of my job is witnessing how they support and show up for each other. Their collective might allow us to provide great services to people.”
While her dedication and presence in the areas she’s involved in is inspirational enough, Marie had a few words of encouragement she wanted to share to those considering getting more involved with their community.
“Everywhere I look, there’s a chance to make our community a tiny bit brighter and warmer. Just start by finding a little corner and shining a little light,” Marie said, closing out with: “Oh, and the benefit of offering that helping hand – apart from a stronger community: helping others and contributing to your collective makes YOU feel physically and mentally better, too. C’mon – it’s hard to say no to that, right?”
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