Every week, this series shares MarionMade! stories of our many wonderful people, places, products and programs in the greater Marion community. To read more positive stories from Marion, or to share some of your own, visit us at marionmade.org or on social media.
Christy Neff moved to Marion when she was 6 years old. Her father, John Fullmer, a Vietnamese veterinarian, was transferred to Marion by GTE. He and his wife, Roselynn, raised their three children here: Michelle, Christy and Stu.
“I just felt a sense of community since I was little. You could depend on your neighbor,” Neff said.
After graduating from Pleasant High School, she took classes at Marion Technical College. During a university party at the Cadillac Club, friends introduced her to the man she was going to marry: Mike Neff.
“Mike and I are still giggling and flirting even after 30 years. We’re not afraid to be affectionate,” Neff says.
Together, they raised three boys: Kyle, 25; Connor, 22; and Carson, 20. She is proud of the young men they have become.
“I am grateful for my husband. He’s such a good role model for our boys. I think they learned from the best,” Neff said.
For six years, Neff served as Program Director at Buckeye Ridge Habitat for Humanity in Marion to help local families have safe and affordable housing. Neff helps prepare and empower families for home ownership.
“I am grateful that my employer supports me in all my community service projects!” Neff said.
Her love of community service began at home.
“My parents taught me the meaning of kindness and service above myself. I take pride in trying to live my life based on faith, family, friendship and community. I work very hard for that to happen every day,” Neff said.
Neff serves on several committees and boards related to housing and community service, including Marion Noon Kiwanis, Marion Rotary Club, 100 Women Who Care, Marion Women’s Business Council, Marion Housing Coalition, Community Business Connections, Marion Business Builders Chapter of BNI, Salvation Army Advisory Board, Women’s Republican Club, Republican Candidate Committee and Marion Popcorn Festival Trustee.
The Marion Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2018 heard about the need to replace the aging Project Playground at McKinley Park. This sparked the creation of the Marion PEP (Parks Enhancement Project) Club as a 501(c)(3) to build a new playground for everyone.
The new playground was unveiled in November 2021. The main supporters were the Marion Rotary and the Marion Community Foundation. Additional support has come from OhioHealth, the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, the Marion County Council for Developmental Disabilities, the Marion Parks Department, Marion Leadership alumni, and local donors.
“When it was unveiled, I was overwhelmed with how much it took to make it happen. It was an idea that grew on its own when community members saw the need and were ready to meet that need. It was a labor of love,” Neff said.
The new Marion Rotary Centennial Playground was built with 100% community donations. They continue to fundraise to complete the upgrades and plan their next project. They consulted with the Marion County Developmental Disabilities Council to ensure it was accessible to people of all abilities.
“We just want to do it right. We truly believe that Marion deserves this gift. We are so overwhelmed with the support for this project,” Neff said.
Her efforts led others to nominate her for the Women’s Business Council’s Athena Award.
“As president of the Marion PEP Club, Christy has partnered with community leaders to build an inclusive playground for all children, including children with disabilities,” said Lisa Bush. “His dedication to this project has improved the quality of life for others in our community.”
“Christy has demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in business and community through her leadership skills,” said her friend Pam Workman. “Most importantly, she’s there when everyone needs someone to listen to them, helping women reach their full potential.”
“My parents taught me to work hard and stay humble! I don’t want anyone patting me on the back. I’m just enjoying it!” Neff said.