Marjorie Book was a Cincinnati-area poet who was an active participant in our organization from 1994 until her death in 2004. Marjorie is fondly remembered for her intelligence, humor and sense of adventure. Marjorie grew up in Missouri and Michigan with a visual impairment and received a bachelors degree from Central Missouri State University. Marjorie worked at Clovernook Center for the Blind in Cincinnati for more than 20 years. She published a book of poems, focused primarily on nature themes, called Marjorie’s Book. Marjorie enjoyed classical and new age music. She joined our group in her mid-sixties, and was extremely active participating in numerous workshops, service projects and plays. Her dedication to our organization, even when she felt ill, inspired many of us, and in 2008 the group was re-named in her honor.
The concept of Marjorie Book Continuing Education was originally born in a theater group. In 1993, two long-time friends from suburban Cincinnati, Mark Griffin and Joe Link, recruited several friends from St. Xavier High School and Wyoming High School to produce am amateur theater production. The Renegade Garage Players would be a theater group that was open to actors with a range of acting backgrounds. During the first play, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, an acquaintance of Joe’s who happened to be visually impaired agreed to join the cast as well. Most of the members of the group had little previous experience interacting with people with disabilities, but they committed to making the production work and to including everyone. Despite the variety of acting abilities of the participants, the production of A Doll’s House went smoothly. The collaborative and inclusive philosophy of the group had proven successful, and so a core group of volunteers carried on the group’s work from year to year.
From 1993 to 1999, the Renegade Garage Players remained an unincorporated theater group producing one or two plays each summer. Significant efforts were made to recruit actors with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities from the Cincinnati community. The group formed partnerships with the Clovernook Center for the Blind, Stepping Stones Center, and LADD in recruiting actors. The group performed at various locations including the Northern Hills Fellowship Unitarian Church, the College Hill Town Hall, Winton Woods Middle School, and Joe’s parents’ garage.
In 1999, with the help of Maria Werle, Renie Taylor and Jacque Horn, the organization moved towards incorporation and formed a Board of Directors. The Renegade Garage Players expanded their programming to include service and educational events which would bring people with and without disabilities together. During the year 2000, the Renegade Garage Players hosted a weekend theater camp, community service projects throughout Cincinnati, a sightseeing trip to Northern Ohio, and a variety show. In 2001, the group expanded its operations further by producing three summer-time plays. In 2010, the group began sponsoring educational classes such as yoga and German at Friendship Methodist Church and Xavier University, six service projects around Cincinnati and through an out-of-town trip to Toledo and three theatrical productions a year at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The group has served hundreds of teenagers and adults with and without disabilities in the past 25 years. In 2008, the organization changed it name to Marjorie Book Continuing Education to reflect its increasing emphasis on educational and service programs. In recent years, people with intellectual disabilities have increasingly pursued postsecondary education opportunities, and Marjorie Book Continuing Education serves as a possible option for people with disabilities to pursue further education in an inclusive environment.
Marjorie Book Continuing Education was the 2004 recipient of the Inclusion Network’s Kaplan Foundation/August A. Rendigs Foundation Inclusion Leadership Award.
Marjorie Book Continuing Education provides inclusive experiences among people of all abilities through continuing education, service and theater.
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Stephanie Rechtin, President
Robin Schulz, Vice President
Trevor Gillette, Treasurer
Esther Wing Secretary
Joe Link, Executive Director
Maria Link, Associate Director