Many people spend their retirements golfing or taking trips to Florida while others, like Victor Marone, spend their retirement building houses and inspiring the youth at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church. Marone, a former engineer, has been an important part of the youth ministry at Woods for over a decade.
“Some people would say, ‘Gee, you're retired, you could be playing golf,’” Marone said. “I play golf and I'm a big sailor. I just enjoy working with the youth. So that becomes a priority in my retirement.”
Marone started volunteering so he could spend more time with his grandchildren going through the programs at Woods.
“My grandchildren got me into this youth activity stuff,” Marone said, “and they have since graduated, and I'm still there.”
Marone said he never thought about whether he would leave the program after his grandchildren; it just happened. Now, he is more dedicated than ever.
“He has devoted so much of his time to young people, but more importantly, he shows unconditional love to them,” said Nancy Jackson, who nominated Marone for Volunteer of the Month. “He is truly a role model for all who are fortunate enough to be with him.”
Marone and his wife teach Sunday school from September through May, and he is on the leadership team for the high school youth ministry. The classes have switched to the virtual format during the pandemic, but Marone has stayed active. His biggest project, however, is the annual WoodsWork trip.
WoodsWork is a mission trip with Habitat for Humanity. A group of over 100 students and a team of adults work through 10 days to build multiple houses for families in need. The trip is student-led, but Marone acts as an advisor, recruiting and assisting students along the way. A committee of five adults and 12 or 13 students plan the trip from September to July. They plan orientations and construction demonstrations. Marone oversees all of this planning, and he is present on the job site each day of the trip.
“It is quite an undertaking,” Marone explained. “We do three houses in basically five work days. We take the house from bare foundation to totally framed in with roof windows, doors, interior walls, and sometimes we get the siding on the house. It is hard to believe that you could do that in five days of work.”
Marone has been on many other mission trips with the youth ministry at Woods. He has spent countless nights sleeping on air mattresses or cots, and has traveled as far north as Ohio and as far south as Georgia for building trips or fun trips. He has gotten to know many students from all over Anne Arundel County, and even from other churches, who have joined him on a trip or for Sunday school.
“They are such a joy to work with,” Marone said. “I get so much satisfaction out of working with them and seeing what they're willing to do at this young age, that it's energized me to keep doing it.”
Marone said he keeps in touch with many of the students who have moved on and he values those lasting relationships. For him, dedicating his free time to students and teaching them valuable life lessons is what retirement is all about.
“What is the fate of the next generation worth?” Marone said. “It's worth everything. And so that's what motivates me.”