Known for her big heart, tremendous energy and enthusiastic, boundless love for the Rim Country’s at-risk children, Marcy Rogers was found dead in her home Saturday, Dec. 5.
Payson Police Chief Don Engler said a neighbor went to check on her and called police, who responded at 11:05 a.m. He said foul play is not suspected.
The founder of Payson Community Kids, Rogers came to Payson in August 1996 to work as a planner for the Town of Payson Community Development Office.
She started the program for “her kids” that same year.
Rogers’ dedication and commitment to needy and neglected Rim Country children earned her several nominations for 2004 Payson Woman of the Year.
In February 2006, to mark the 10th anniversary of PCK, Rogers shared the story of how the program came about with the Payson Roundup.
Not long after arriving in Payson, she would see children in the street when she would come home from work.
“Since I didn’t know anyone and I liked going to the park and I liked painting, I was letting them paint and color and taking them to the park. Within three or four months I had 20 kids.”
It wasn’t long before she was feeding and clothing the kids. With the assistance of a few friends, Rogers continued caring for her extended family for four years. But the cost was was becoming prohibitive.
“We knew we needed to be under a nonprofit because I wouldn’t take any cash, and it was more than I could afford,” she said.
To alleviate the problem, the program operated the next two years under Rim Country Volunteers. There were classes and other events for the kids in the town planning and zoning department’s conference room.
But the group was getting larger, and when 40 kids attended one event, Rogers realized it was time to move on. That’s when she bought the house at 300 W. Wade Lane.
By 2006 the Payson Community Kids was a nonprofit (registered with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office in 2004).
Youngsters as young as 3 and as old as 15 participate in the PCK program. They come every day after school; they are fed dinner; and enjoy planned activities and classes, including a weekly drug prevention class. Rogers would take many of the youngsters to church with her on Sunday and involved them in service projects to teach them to give back to the community.
“When (the children) are hungry, she feeds them. When they are dirty, she bathes and shampoos them. When they need clothes, she clothes them,” Virginia Fowler wrote in her nomination for Rogers as 2004 Payson Woman of the Year.
“She does not go out looking for them,” Fowler said. “They learn about her from their friends and come to her looking for love and help which they find in great abundance.”
In Vanessa Johnson’s nomination, she wrote that Rogers “mentors the children by taking them to church, providing them with clothes, school supplies and a safe place to hang out with friends after school.”
Caroline Johnson wrote of Rogers, “she teaches them values, good behavior and the value of being loved.”
If good results are an indication of success, Rogers’ program has achieved its goals.
“We have seen children blossom under her care — emerging from shy, repressed, quiet children to outgoing, friendly, smiling and happy beings,” Fowler said. “It has been wonderful to see.”
Since the inception of the program, residents recognized and appreciated what Rogers was doing for the children of Payson.
In addition to founding and hosting the Community Kids program, Rogers made significant civic contributions when she worked as a housing coordinator for the town of Payson.
The program’s future direction is unknown, as none of its officials could be reached for comment by press time.
Since word of Rogers’ death, several people have expressed their shock and heartbreak.
“I am dumfounded with the knowledge of your passing,” Beth Myers wrote. “You needed a ‘Clarence’ (the angel in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’) to show you all the good you did for our community. You allowed us to share your dream. Those that gave of our money, time and love are holding you close in our heart as it bleeds the tears of your loss. May you continue to share your beautiful love in your new dimension. Thank you Marcy.”
“Marcy was an angel, never complained and gave 110 percent from her heart,” wrote Suzanne Michaels. “I worked with her many times on fund-raisers for the kids, and I never met anyone more grateful. I spoke with her not long ago and we talked about how successful Toys For Tunes was. She touched many lives as well as mine, and I will so miss her sweet smile and her dedication to the community. Rest in peace, my dear friend.”
A memorial service is at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12 at Payson United Methodist Church, 414 N. Easy St. An account to help with funeral expenses has been created at Chase Bank, the account number is 842043861.