Elburn resident Darlene Marcusson has served as an inspiration to so many, it is impossible to fit a fraction of the impact she has had on this page.
She began a warm-weather shelter for homeless individuals in St. Charles in 1997, and since then, Lazarus House has transformed into a bridge from emergency to self-sufficiency for countless individuals from throughout the area.
Marcusson led the program to expand to a permanent site open year-round one year after it began. Five years after that, in 2003, the Lazarus House Center for Transitional Living opened. In the years since then, the program opened a center for women and children, began providing rental subsidies for those on the verge of homelessness, and opened a Community Resource Center that provides easy access to its homeless prevention program. Lazarus House also affers a soup kitchen for struggling families, as well as an unofficial crisis hotline that serves more than 2,600 callers each year.
According to its website, Lazarus House provided care for 83 children, 103 women and 193 men, providing nearly 23,000 nights of shelter. In addition, Lazarus House provided 68,000 meals. The amount of support provided in the forms of skill-building, counseling, and other forms of service are beyond measure.
This began with one woman and an idea, and now a growing group of volunteers provide more than 18,000 hours of service each year.
Both Marcusson as an individual, and Lazarus House as a program, have won numerous awards for their efforts as serving a population in need.
It is one thing to write about a bunch of statistics and numbers as a way to demonstrate the impact Marcusson has had, but when one considers the fact that each individual number represents a person or a family who began to find a way back to self-sufficiency because of the efforts of Lazarus House and its supporters, it begins to boggle the mind. It becomes clear how much impact one person can have when they act on the inspiration they receive, and then in turn inspire others.
One of those inspired by Marcusson will serve as the new Lazarus House Executive director as of January 2011. Marcusson recently made the decision to semi-retire from her efforts. Read Elburn Herald reporter Keith Beebeâ€™s story, and it is clear that Marcusson does not plan on leaving entirely; she plans to continue her work on a part-time basis.
We doubt Marcusson will ever fully â€œretireâ€ from the program she founded, nurtured and grew. As the years pass, her actual time spent â€œworkingâ€ may lessen, but her impact on the lives of countless individuals and families will never fade.