Daily Point of Light # 1717 Sep 1, 2000

Merlin Atkins takes pride in his community and has a desire to make it the best “Maryville” it can be. He aspires to create a healthier city by engaging citizens in building new pathways for community and regional sustainability. In his quiet, unassuming way he is able to mobilize the support and enthusiasm for projects that result in a better community.

Atkins, who is married with children, successfully juggles family life, a career and volunteer service. His skillful ability to prioritize and organize allows him to be a successful farmer, church worker and family man. His life is an example to his family and the citizens of Maryville alike.

Though Atkins’s volunteer efforts are varied, many of his achievements have focused on children and young adults. He has served on the Nodaway County Fair board of directors since 1984. He is currently the treasurer and served as president from 1984 through 1987. When the Fair Board recognized a need for remodeling the Maryville Community Building, a facility used for youth programs, Atkins volunteered to lead the project. With his enthusiasm, he recruited volunteers of all ages. Under his guidance, students from the Area Vocational Technical School FFA Chapter helped paint and remodel the building. He not only provided leadership but equipment, his own labor and that of several of his family members to successfully complete the project.

One of Atkins’ most important achievements has been serving on a committee to form a ministry center. This center hoped to combine the food pantry and clothing room, two key resources that serve youth and families, into one central location. Atkins found an appropriate space in a former retail store in 1998. The Ministerial Fellowship agreed the site was perfect and formed a board to oversee the remodeling. He was elected to the Board of Directors and headed the efforts to recruit volunteers as well as businesses to donate time, labor and materials for the renovation effort. The Ministry Center was dedicated in 1999. It housed the food pantry, clothing room and Catholic Charities counseling. Atkins and his volunteers served for more than one thousand hours of labor and materials which would have totaled over eleven thousand dollars.

Atkins is also a dedicated member of the First Presbyterian Church. He has served as Elder, adult and children Sunday School class teacher, youth mission trip leader and chairman of the Deacons. His church and church family are very important to him. He and his wife host an annual hay ride and roast for the young people of the church. He makes it a point to learn the name of every child in the congregation and also volunteers to counsel young married couples who are experiencing marital difficulties.

Merlin Atkins extends himself to anyone who is in need. He does not call himself a Christian but lives a life that embodies the virtues of Jesus Christ. He is committed to improving his community for the benefit of all.