It’s a rare thing when 82 churches cooperate on a single event to bring medical services, food essentials, job counseling and more to thousands of people, but that’s exactly what happened this year at One Day of Hope. The event, now six years in progress, is chaired by Ray Marcrom, who has been chosen as the Manchester Times-Manchester Rotary Club Citizen of the Year.
Marcrom, in accepting the award, said he was humbled by the nomination he felt truly belonged to the thousands of people who work to make One Day of Hope, now a 501c3 nonprofit, happen each year.
“The idea of that initially was not mine. It was some other folks at [other churches] gathered and said, we need to present a unified voice of Christians, not just one brand, and just tell our community we love them and take care of them,” Marcrom said. “I’m just one of thousands of people that work on this. If there’s any recognition to be given, I hope it’s to all the people out there that serve so unselfishly and give a little bit of themselves. It makes a difference.”
Marcrom, who is also president and CEO of Marcrom’s Pharmacy which he has operated in Manchester for nearly 40 years, gave the credit for his accomplishments with One Day of Hope to all the ministry leaders, medical professionals and volunteers who make the event work each year. In 2017, over 600 volunteers participated in the coordination of the event, which drew approximately 2,700 local residents seeking services, from haircuts to dental screenings to job placement.
Marcrom, who attends Forest Mill Church of Christ, said that having done church work for most of his life, he’s thankful to be a part of a movement that seeks to bring the church’s message outside church walls. To him, One Day of Hope has just been way of showcasing what local organizations and people were already doing for the community, and joining all efforts in one encompassing outreach event.
“We just realized that we didn’t need to go out and make something new that virtually all the nonprofits and churches were already doing,” said Marcrom, who hand a hand in developing a board for the event. “People just weren’t aware of it, and it wasn’t coordinated, so the biggest thing we try to do is highlight what people here are doing and point folks to those directions to get help. We’ve got a lot of great folks doing some wonderful work, but we want to just enhance that. That’s sort of our vision for the future.””
A part of his community
Vision for care is a thing Marcrom has had on his own for quite some time. After receiving his doctorate of pharmacy in 1972, he returned to work at Baker Brothers, the pharmacy his father and uncle ran together. But he soon found he wanted to do things a little differently in his community.
“I just kind of wanted to spread my wings and do something a little different,” Marcrom laughed. “I wanted to do apothecary pharmacy, where we really focused on healthcare, where we kept individual patient records –that seems funny now, but 40 years ago there weren’t individual records – and providing individualized patient counseling and working with physicians to do that.”
Marcrom’s Pharmacy has been going strong ever since, becoming one of the first pharmacies in the region to provide diabetes education, check patient vitals like blood pressure, and becoming the first pharmacy in Middle Tennessee to have a computer.
In his own community, his family along with a few others, began New Life Fellowship which later ran in conjunction with Canvas Community Church, to reach out to people in Coffee County.
“We were trying to reach people that didn’t think they belonged in church, or that they weren’t good enough. We felt like it brought some attention to reaching people maybe nobody else was reaching out to. A lot of times what’s common in church is, ‘I like to be things to be the way I like it or the way I’m comfort-able,’ and I understand that,” Marcrom said with a laugh. “And I see churches starting to think about, maybe it doesn’t matter so much how comfortable I am? How much is it being made open to people who need the message?”
In addition to his local work, Marcrom has worked training pharmacy students at the University of Tennessee, from which he graduated, and at Lipscomb University in Nashville as associate professor. He is also an internationally recognized speaker, participating in 250 programs across the country, and for years done medical mission work across Latin America.
Marcrom’s involvement doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. As far as One Day of Hope goes, he said, there is great potential for the event’s growth in terms of serving more people, more often. The nonprofit’s board is currently working with organization partners like Partners for Healing and Good Samaritan of Coffee County to have outreach programs more often.
A hope Marcrom said seems to be on the horizon is getting free medical and dental clinic services set up at a location here in Manchester.
“A lot of our dentists are willing to give their time. They’ve been very generous. But if they can come [to a central location], and they could evaluate, and get [people] appointments,” Marcrom said. “And sometimes it’s even just a matter of transportation. The services are available, but people don’t know how to get there. It can be something as little as, ‘We’ve got a gas card for you,’ or maybe, ‘We’ll get you a ride.’”
Teamwork to provide services to so many who need it is a must, and Coffee County has proved through One Day that it can do just that, Marcrom said.
“I just think it’s been a wonderful thing for our county to see people working together, to see people lay that [Manchester-Tullahoma] rivalry down for a minute and not worry about who’s getting the credit. It’s an idea of unity.”
Marcrom thanked his family and particularly his wife, Jane, with whom he has two children, Sarah McKamey and Samuel Marcrom, and four grandchildren. He said her continued love throughout the years, from working long hours with him at the pharmacy when their young daughter slept to emotional support in his endeavors. They will later this month celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary.
“[Jane] has been my partner in everything we’ve done. I couldn’t have opened the store without her,” he said. “And it’s the same with everything I’ve been involved in. I couldn’t do any of it without her. I always tell people she’s the best person I’ve ever met, and her heart is what really influences the things I get involved in.”
Story by Leila Nunez. To see this week’s complete paper, pick up an issue of The Manchester Times today.