Helpful Humans – Marianne Bly

Photo by Chait Goli on

Chicago, IL –

Not everyone gets to live a glamorous life, filled with possibilities and opportunities to have an impact on the world at large. Most of us get up, go to work, and come home to our families while the world rolls on, little interested in the comings and goings of our small corner of this place we all call home. But despite the quiet from the outside world, small efforts don’t go unnoticed by the members of a community; and one person, living a quiet life, can make the world a better place.

Marianne Bly was 64 when she passed away this May from cardiac arrest. By all accounts, she lived a regular life – working retail to keep herself and her family afloat, volunteering her time at the schools, and donating when and where she could. But it wasn’t just that, Marianne made the people in her community feel cared for.

“She knew everyone by name,” said her daughter Vanessa to the Sun-Times. “She knew what they shopped for, and she would call them to tell them the store got what they were looking for.” Her son elaborated: “Anybody with disabilities, or if they were old and having trouble, she’d say, ‘What do you need?’ People who couldn’t walk to the end of the store, she’d put it in the front so they wouldn’t have to walk as far.”

While she never pulled someone from a burning building, or sponsored kids from all over the city of Toronto to go see NBA games, Marianne did what is perhaps the most difficult thing of all: she worked a thankless job for 13 years while raising a family on her own and improved her community along the way. In fact, she also was a founding member of the South Side United Local School Council Federation, which advocated for access to tutors, equitable funding and improved communication between schools and parents. Perhaps the best compliment that can be said about Marianne is her children’s friends called her mom.

Everyone has an impact on their community, large and small, and sometimes we overlook the small successes in favor of the larger problems. Not everyone is a billionaire who can move markets at a whim; most of us live simple lives filled with family, hard work, and service. So today, please take a moment to remember Marianne Bly, who lived her life working to improve the community on the South Side of Chicago in her own small way. Not through grand gestures or large gifts, quite the opposite. Her daughter stated it simply: “She did her best.”