NEW GLASGOW — Nancy Marshall has a smile as big as the great outdoors and a natural creativity that she loves to share with others.
Marshall is a resident of Glen Haven Manor and a regular volunteer at the Aberdeen Regional Hospital’s fifth floor. Each Tuesday, she takes the CHAD Transit bus to the hospital where she assists recreation therapist Lisa Hurley with patients who are in transitional care. Marshall began her volunteer work three years ago and she has been on duty there on a weekly basis ever since. She supports the patients with crafts, word searches, colouring, games, art and sometimes even supervises when they are undertaking an activity. She says she also likes to help plan activities for the month and that she is very grateful to Hurley and Aberdeen Volunteer Services for the opportunity to work with the patients. Volunteering motivates her.
“I want to make a contribution and feel disappointed if I can’t go,” says Marshall. “I am glad to help the patients and staff. Volunteerism is very important to me.”
Marshall is a natural to help others express their creative side as she has many creative and artistic talents herself. In addition to being very adept at knitting and making crafts, she is also a gifted poet and songwriter and is proud that several of her lyrics have been put to music. Kelsey MacDonald, music therapist at Glen Haven, describes Marshall as an eloquent writer. “Her words make you see, hear, and feel her message. Some people can just evoke a feeling and Nancy does that! There is depth to her writing.”
MacDonald adds, “Her music also gives her independence and confidence in a supportive environment. Both the music and writings give her a medium to reflect on her love for her children and family. It is wonderful for her and we have even recorded some of her songs that she has given as gifts. Nancy has also added the tambourine as her instrument which is incorporated into the music recordings along with guitar, keyboards, triangle and vocals by both MacDonald and Marshall.
Raised in Pictou County, Marshall attended Westville High School and says that English, French, creative writing and poetry were her favourite school subjects and ones in which she excelled. She has worked as a telemarketer for The Chronicle Herald and Long Life Light Bulbs and was also part of the organization, Entrepreneurs with Disabilities. It was her business counsellor Archie Gillis who first supported her creative side by publishing her songs and helping her produce and sell greeting cards, a business she established in the late 1990s.
“Archie was my colleague and my friend,” says Marshall. “He helped me think of a good business idea which turned my book of poems into songs which he put to guitar music. He also advised me on my business plan for my greeting cards business.”
While living in Halifax, Nancy also wrote Gospel songs. This was a natural fit for her as Marshall’s faith has always been very important to her and serves as a great source of inspiration and strength. She also has a published book of poems called Loose Laces that is available in the Halifax Library.
Marshall says living at Glen Haven provides her with fulfilling opportunities to explore her music and poetry and do the volunteer work she loves; it is located near many family members. She remains very close to her foster mother; Marshall visits her mom weekly, enjoying long chats, knitting and sharing her writings.
Glen Haven Manor CEO Lisa M. Smith describes Marshall as an ambassador for Glen Haven.
“Nancy is making a meaningful contribution to Glen Haven Manor and the wider community. She represents our core value that quality of life matters. It is uplifting to see her pursue her passion for creative writing and music and share this gift with so many others.”
Marshall’s favourite topics to write about are her family and her faith. One poem she is especially proud of is one she has recently written for her two daughters, who are both in their early 20s. She beams with pride when speaking about the two and adds empathically that she enjoys sharing her creative pursuits with them. “I don’t know where I would be without my poems and music. It makes me happy and allows me to express myself.”
With considerable wordsmith skills, her signature smile, a twinkle in her eyes, cheery disposition and passion for life, it is no wonder Marshall’s innate creativity comes pouring out with such ease.
Nancy Marshall, a resident at Glen Haven Manor in New Glasgow, is well known for her creativity, writing and volunteer work. (Submitted photo)