Bucks County Herald

Wrapping Presence founder receives women’s history award


Marne Dietterich, Women’s History Month awardee.

Vivacious, diligent, creative and precise are just a few of the words that were used to describe Marne Kies Dietterich on Thursday, March 23, at the James Lorah House where she was feted as the 36th Women’s History Month awardee.

Chairwoman Kathleen Horwatt, of Bucks County League of Women Voters, opened the ceremony with a warm welcome and a brief history of the award, which began as a one-day celebration and blossomed into a month-long achievement during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Sue Simon, the first to congratulate Dietterich, presented her with a certificate on behalf of state Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. Kathy Meyer, of the Village Improvement Association (VIA), a nominating organization, spoke on behalf of the family in the absence of Dietterich’s daughter, who resides in Switzerland.

Reading Dietterich’s daughter’s letter, she said, “It goes without saying that we are proud of you,” a reference to Dietterich’s work at Pearl S. Buck’s Welcome House.

State Rep. Scott Petri presented a citation signed by all 10 members of the Bucks County Delegation of Pennsylvania State Representatives.

Representing the Bucks County Commissioners, Lynn Bush, Bucks County chief clerk, presented Dietterich with a Bucks County Memorial Mercer Tile, and Clerk of Courts Mary Smithson offered a Proclamation. Citations from Gov. Tom Wolf and state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney were also awarded.

Martha Czop, of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Lower Bucks chapter, introduced Laren McClung, Bucks County Poet Laureate, who read “No Brief Candle,” a poem written specifically for the honoree by the laureate.

Dorothy Gaboda, of the Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA), presented a piece of art glass by a Bucks County artist. Francine Block, of AAUW Makefield, presented a framed certificate from the Women’s History Month Committee, while Barbara Oliver, of Soroptomist International of Indian Rock, performed the Presentation of Recipient and Cheryl Paradiso gave the Tribute to “Wrapping Presence.”

Marylin Puchalski, treasurer, Bucks County Commissioners’ Advisory Council, announced that $5,600 had so far been collected for the Women’s History Month Award (WHMA).

When it came to Dietterich’s turn to speak, she was at no loss for words. Personable and outgoing, she launched right into her passion, “Wrapping Presence.” and its origins. She was delighted to share her story.

It was through her own parents that the organization came into being. Her father, living in a nursing home in Illinois, confessed to Dietterich that he was not happy with the inability to select and purchase a Christmas gift for his wife of 52 years. A few years later her mother shared a similar sentiment.

It was out of this devotion to each other that “Wrapping Presence” sprung. Dietterich took that sentiment and started the organization with one Doylestown nursing home and a small selection of gifts she had purchased. The smiles on the faces of the residents said it all. They now had the opportunity to select gifts for loved ones and regain their sense of dignity and joy. They no longer felt useless. This simple act of kindness grew into an organization.

Twenty years later, “Wrapping Presence” serves more than 1,000 residents living in 20 Delaware Valley nursing homes and VA facilities, and utilizes over 700 caring volunteers. Thousands of gifts are donated annually with no cost to any resident or facility.

Dietterich has created a ripple effect of joy through her efforts. She said she is grateful to Doylestown Presbyterian Church for the use of its facilities.



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