Kathryn Marin is the founder and executive director of a mobile recreation unit called CJ's Bus. After her own experience with a tornado that took the life of her two year-old son, Kathryn realized the need for a safe place for children to play while their parents tend to their recovery needs. CJ’s Bus is a mobile play care facility loaded with games and toys for children in disaster. With the goal of being on-site with 1-2 days following a qualified disaster, the bus is a recognized destination staffed by certified volunteers where families feel safe to leave their children for a few minutes or hours as they attend to the immediate recovery needs of their family, businesses and community.
With the completion of CJ’s Bus in August 2007, Kathryn has provided a safe place for children to focus on their crayons instead of the devastation around them and permit them to remain innocent during disasters. This is accomplished by using the inside and especially the outside perimeter of the bus for a wide variety of entertaining and interactive age-appropriate activities, both active and passive.
Kathryn, along with Congressman Brad Ellsworth, has initiated the process of CJ’s Home Protection Act. This Act would change the Federal manufactured home construction and safety standards to require every manufactured home delivered for sale to be supplied with NOAA weather radio. Weather radios provide immediate broadcasts of severe weather warnings and civil emergency messages, including tornado and flood warnings, AMBER alerts for child abductions and chemical spill notifications.
Kathryn lost her 2 year-old son CJ, as well as her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law in the deadly F3 tornado which ravaged Evansville and Newburgh, IN on November 6, 2005. The tornado took 25 lives and was one of the deadliest in Indiana history. Kathryn made a very personal decision to devote the rest of her life to putting smiles on the faces of children affected by disaster. She once said that she knew she could either be miserable the rest of her life or she could do something about it. She chose to make changes that will better the lives of other families.