Marlena Willoughby is the longtime girlfriend of GEM’S founder Eric Welsh. They live together in their home in Prescott, along with their three sons Dallas, Patrick, and Joseph. Marlena has worked with GEM in many different aspects since 2018. She has volunteered on different service projects and educational programs, updated and managed the social media platforms and website, worked as camp cook in the field on AML projects, organized and assisted with multiple fundraising events, and is currently working with Eric on the remodel and maintenance of the GEM Environmental office suites. Over the years she has helped in finding donors for GEM and making new connections throughout the community.
Marlena loves her work with GEM and is always willing to volunteer her time for anything that needs to be done. Her favorite activity with GEM is the yearly Christmas Gift Toy drive. For the past 3 years, she has partnered GEM with The Windsock Lounge, and CASA for Kids, to bring in as many donations as possible for the foster children in Yavapai County.
What do you enjoy most about being involved in GEM?
What I enjoy most about being involved in GEM is the opportunity for my family to work together while helping our community. The growth I see in each one of us, comes largely from our work with GEM. Our sons have learned the importance of working hard through volunteering and internships.
What were your feelings when GEM first started and being part of the organization?
When Eric first invited me to start working with GEM, I was very excited! Everything about the mission was dear to my heart. Even though we were a very small organization, each one of us had so many ideas and worked together to grow and make a name for GEM in the community.
What kind of progress has GEM made and what kind of progress do you see GEM making in the future?
GEM started out as a small non-profit that had two employees and a group of volunteers. Board meetings were held at a kitchen table, and the field crew were camping in tents. The past three years, GEM has grown into a successful non-profit with a multi-suite office, many employees and service members, multiple field crews with vehicles and mobile offices equipped with living quarters. The educational programs and scholarships have helped many throughout our community and the name GEM Environmental has become a valued resource for STEM. I know that we will continue to thrive and help many more in our future.
In what ways does GEM feel like a family and what do you like most about GEM?
GEM Environmental doesn't just feel like a family, it is a family. Working alongside Eric and the wonderful team, has become an essential part of who I am. Building GEM from the ground up took a village, a FAMILY. The office staff, board members, AmeriCorps members, interns, and so many volunteers all make GEM Environmental a success. This type of working environment is what I love most about GEM. Many different voices, opinions, ideas, and dreams all combined with one goal: helping others.