Christy Neff moved to Marion at age 6. Her father, John Fullmer, a Vietnam vet, 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 -ever since I was little. You could depend on your neighbor,” Neff said.
After she graduated from Pleasant High School, she took classes at Marion Technical College. On a college night at the Cadillac Club, friends introduced her to the man she would marry: Mike Neff.
“Mike and I still giggle and flirt even after 30 years. We’re not afraid to be affectionate,” Neff says.
Together they raised three boys: Kyle, age 25; Connor, 22; and Carson, 20. She is proud of the young men they have become.
“I’m grateful for my husband. He’s such a good role model for our boys. I think they’ve learned from the best,” Neff said.
For six years, Neff has served as the program director at Buckeye Ridge Habitat for Humanity in Marion to help local families have safe, affordable housing. Neff helps prepare and empower families for homeownership.
“I’m grateful that my employer supports me in all of my community service projects!” Neff said.
Her love of community service started at home.
“My parents taught me the meaning of kindness and service above self. I’m proud that I try and live my life according to faith, family, friendship, and community. I work very hard to make that happen every day,” Neff said.
Neff serves on multiple 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 the Marion Popcorn Festival Trustee.
The Marion Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Marion Class of 2018 heard of a need to replace the aging Project Playground at McKinley Park. That sparked the creation of the Marion PEP (Parks Enhancement Project) Club as a 501(c)(3) to build a new, all-ability playground.
The new playground was unveiled in November 2021. Top supporters were the Marion Rotary and the Marion Community Foundation. Additional support came from OhioHealth, Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Marion Parks Department, past graduates of Leadership Marion, and local donors.
“When it was unveiled, I was overwhelmed by all it took to make it happen. It was one idea that just grew on its own as people in the community saw the need and were willing to support that need. It was a labor of love,” Neff said.
The new Marion Rotary Centennial Playground was built with 100% donations from the community. They continue to raise funds to complete the improvements and are planning for their next project. They consulted with the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities to make sure it was accessible to people of all abilities.
“We just want to do it right. We really believe that Marion deserves this gift. We are so overwhelmed with the support of this project,” Neff said.
Her efforts led others to nominate her for the Athena Award from the Women’s Business Council.
“As the president of the Marion PEP Club, Christy partnered with community leaders to build an inclusive playground for all children, including those with disabilities,” said Lisa Bush. “Her devotion 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 friend Pam Workman. “Most importantly, she is there when all people need is someone to listen to them, assisting women to reach their full potential.”
“My parents taught me to work hard and stay humble! I don’t do for anyone to pat me on the back. I just enjoy it!” Neff said.