Meet Jan

Meet Jan

As Jan Marable prepares for her eighth Christmas at the South Bend Kroc Center, she reflects on the curious and obedient path she walked to get there. It’s a story that started just 200 yards from her office inside the Kroc’s Family Resource Center – as a youth pastor at South Bend’s Pentecostal Cathedral, just on the other side of Western Avenue.

Jan spent most of her life in youth ministry. Following a long stint at Pentecostal Cathedral, she moved into a job as an area director for Young Life and was later promoted to a position as a Field Vice President. It was a dream job, allowing Jan to do leadership development and diversity training, as well as providing the opportunity to travel all over the country.

“I’d always wanted to travel,” Jan says. “I started collecting magnets from each state to see how many I could get.”

Jan imagined she could have done that job forever, but God had other plans for her and her family.

“I was on my way to a camp in Minnesota called Camp Castaway and I heard the Lord say it was time to move my parents to South Bend.”

The four-hour drive through rural Minnesota provided plenty of time for prayer and reflection. It only served to steel her resolve and her faith. If nothing else, Jan is obedient. So she called her husband and shared her news.

“I don’t know what this means,” she told him. “But I heard the Lord say it’s time to move my parents and I need to quit my job.”

How did that conversation go?

“My husband respects who I am in God. For me to say, ‘I’m walking away from all of this, and I have no plan,’ he really had to trust that this was God.”

And what did her husband say?

“I trust the God in you.”

Jan called her boss second and her father third. Things moved quickly after that. She helped move her parents, then staged and sold their house.

Life would continue to throw challenges. Both of Jan’s parents were diagnosed with health issues and it would take three years to find a permanent place that they could call home. But during all of that, Jan began to feel a calling to get back into the community and to get back into ministry, at least a little bit.

A temporary role as a seasonal social worker during the Christmas season at the Salvation Army seemed like a good place to start. At ten-dollars-an-hour, it was a lot less than she’d been making as a field VP, but it wasn’t about the money. Jan prayerfully decided to apply for the job.

Even though she’d spent so much of her life at the corners of Western and Laurel, that job interview was the first time she’d set foot inside the Kroc Center. Jan got the job and worked in the IRBN warehouse sorting clothes, packing food boxed, and managing volunteers.

“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Jan recalls.

When the Christmas season ended, so did Jan’s temporary employment. It would take until April before her phone rang with a call from the Kroc Center. The permanent, full-time social worker job was open, and the Kroc wanted to know if Jan was interested.

She was.

“You never know,” Jan says. “I did that seasonal social work job with excellence and that’s how I got here.”

Does it surprise her?

“Everywhere I go, I know that I’m on assignment. What God does through that assignment sometimes surprises me. But it doesn’t surprise me that I’m on assignment.”

The Kroc Center has since become a part of Jan’s family life. Her husband, a former Navy sailor, loves the pool and works out every day. Jan has worked with a trainer and loves taking yoga classes with Christina. But her ministry in the Family Resource Center is where she really comes alive.

“The latter part of our mission statement is to be the hands and feet of Jesus and meet the needs of the community without discrimination. I believe we have to His eyes, His ears, His hands, and His feet. We have to recognize the need first and then respond to it.”

Jan does all of those things.

Once, when a client came in wearing a pullover in the deepest part of the winter, unable to find a suitable coat, Jan gave her the coat off of her own back.

“For me, I have eight coats at home. And for me to have eight coats and her to have no coats, it was an easy decision. This is who we are. It’s what we do.”

Jan’s work in the Family Resource Center is about meeting needs and changing lives. Through the Food Pantry, Financial Assistance, and Christmas Assistance; the Kroc Center engages families in the midst of crisis. But it’s what happens next that gets Jan Marable really fired up.

“I love it when we can meet you in crisis and help you not to live in crisis. I love working with people in generational poverty and teaching them you don’t have to live this way.”

Jan teaches ‘Getting Ahead’ classes that are designed to break the bonds of generational poverty. She teaches skills, disciplines, and attitudes. She leads vision boarding sessions so that everyone can have a God-infused plan. Jan’s exuberance for Christ-driven transformation spills out of her as she talks about the process. Her smile lights up. Her words grab on to you and don’t let go. She encourages the kind of obedience that’s led her through her own amazing journey of faith, and she wants everyone to know that the journey is not unique to her. “I am blessed and highly favored, but God has no step-children. What he’s done for me, he will absolutely do for you and more.”

This Giving Tuesday, consider making a one-time or recurring gift to the South Bend Kroc Center.
Your donation helps keep food on the table and presents under the tree for families across St. Joseph County.

Love Beyond Christmas

Your sustaining gift to The Salvation Army Kroc Center supports St. Joseph County families this season and beyond. So you can put a present under someone’s tree today and a roof over someone’s head tomorrow.

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