Mary Juarez finds all sorts of ways to pursue her two passions in Muskogee.
She could bake cookies for a Oklahoma Home and Community Education bake sale. She could help a person find food and clothing at the Muskogee Seventh-day Adventist Church Community Service Center. She could learn healthy ways to cook the herbs and vegetables she grows in her garden.
“I like to do things for others and I like to learn,” she said. “I feel a satisfaction of doing things for the community.”
Juarez, 74, is the director of the Community Service Center, which opened in September at 1316 S. York St.
She also is the president of the Muskogee County Oklahoma Home and Community Education organization, a program through the Oklahoma State University Extension dedicated to continuing education on home and community life.
“I just love to learn,” she said. “My mother taught me how to sew on a machine with a foot treadle.”
Juarez said she has learned quilting, baking, painting and Swedish weaving.
“I say I do things that take a lot of work,” she said. “When you’re through, it’s a beautiful thing you can give to someone.”
Meet Mary Juarez
HOMETOWN: San Antonio.
CAREER: Director of Muskogee Seventh-day Adventist Church Community Service Center.
EDUCATION: Edison High School, San Antonio.
FAMILY: Husband, Rudy Juarez.
CHURCH: Muskogee Seventh-day Adventist Church.
HOBBIES: Quilting, Swedish weaving, crochet, sewing, crafts, cooking, gardening.
to help others
Mary Juarez said she at first resisted the call to be the director of the Muskogee Seventh-day Adventist Church Community Center.
“I knew there was a need,” she said. “They were looking for someone, and I fought it and fought it. I didn’t want to do it. But I felt the urge, like the Holy Spirit saying ‘Hey.’ So I went forward and did it.”
The community center opened Sept. 10 at York and Hancock streets. Many items had come from the center the congregation operated at its church. But many more items were needed.
“We didn’t have anything here,” she said. “We started from scratch. We didn’t have all this. We didn’t have clothes racks. God has been good to us. He has provided everything we need — clothes racks, volunteers.”
Since then, the center has grown “by word of mouth,” Juarez said.
“People are happy. They like the facility here, and they tell somebody else,” she said. “We have more than plenty to offer and people just come in and get what they need. This winter, when it was so cold, we had coats. Two men came in. They had light jackets on. They put on the heavy coats. They were so happy and thankful. Things like that make you know it’s worthwhile what you are doing.”
Juarez said she feels a lot of joy watching people look through the center.
“It’s a very happy, satisfying feeling,” she said. “When they leave here, they are smiling. We know that we made the people happy. Or little children would leave here with a toy or a pretty dress we had helped them look for. We’d say, ‘Do you like this dress,’ and they would say, ‘Oh, yes.’”