This room at the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center has been named for benefactor Louie A. Moore Marshall, a long-time Albany resident who “gives from the heart” to local nonprofits. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — At the northwest end of the second floor of the new SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Senior Life Enrichment Center is what for many is the showcase location of the sprawling facility.
A many-windowed room — now officially known as the “Moore Marshall Room” — that looks out on the landscaped yards of houses along First Avenue, the furnished sitting room is perfect for reflection or for watching the world go peacefully by.
And it’s the perfect honor for its namesake, retired educator Louie A. Moore Marshall.
Marshall, who is a regular contributor to the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, had the naming honor bestowed upon the Moore Marshall Room when she upped her contribution to an amount that would pay for the room’s furnishings. But Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler said honoring Marshall was about more than money.
“It’s just an inspiration to talk with her,” Sadler said of the 88-year-old who worked as a legal secretary for civil rights attorney C.B. King and as an educator before retiring. “If you meet her, it’s obvious she’s not in the best of health. But she still doesn’t think of herself, she’s always thinking of what she can do for others.”
Marshall, who monthly donates a significant portion of her retirement and her late husband John’s pension income to as many as 15 nonprofits in the community, said she won’t consider her own afflictions as long as there are others in the community who are worse off than she is.
“There are a lot of people in the community who don’t get what we older folks call an old-age pension,” Marshall said. “And there are plenty who don’t get but the one meal a day delivered by Meals on Wheels and who don’t have another conversation other than when the volunteers deliver those meals. My heart goes out to people like that, and when you hear stories about seniors who are eating pet food, you just have to do something.
“As long as I’m able to help someone in a situation like that, I’m going to do it.”
Sadler said it’s that passion for helping others that led Council on Aging officials to name the popular sitting room for its benefactor.
“We so appreciate every gift that we receive and every giver,” Sadler said. “It’s a fact of life for all nonprofits: There is no mission without money. But it’s even more special when someone like Mrs. Moore Marshall, who is not a wealthy individual, gives. That’s the kind of giving that comes from the heart.
“As much as it’s about her gifts to the Meals on Wheels program, the honor given Mrs. Moore Marshall is about her spirit.”
Sadler shows a visitor a home-made Christmas card Marshall sent out last year to friends, relatives and acquaintances. On it, she hand-typed: “Yes, yes, yes, kindly remember our little ones — but please don’t forget our elderly sisters and brothers who are just a little less fortunate than we are with a cash donation, maybe to Meals on Wheels, a national project or a charity of your choosing during this season of giving in remembrance of the birth of Jesus.”
The publicity-shy Marshall discounts calls to recognize her for her giving.
“What I do, I do from the heart,” she said. “I don’t worry about things like age or sickness, I just stay positive. The more I give — the more I do — the more I have. That’s just who I am.”
Sadler said when she informed Marshall that the Senior Life Enrichment Center room had been named for her, she asked Marshall if she’d come to a ceremony marking the occasion. Marshall, typically, declined. She did acquiesce, though, and allow the council to put up a small plaque commemorating her contributions to the organization.
“Of course, she insisted on paying for the plaque,” Sadler said.