PROFILE: Mary O'Farrell

"I have learned that each one of us must take responsibility for the well-being of every person in our community  We must include even those who are not just like us. Leadership is about one life influencing another. I agree with Margaret Mead who said, 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'"

Mary O'Farrell, life long resident of Texarkana, USA, charges any room in which she walks in with her non-stop energy.  Multiple organizations over the years have tapped that energy.  She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Texarkana, Inc.  She was named Outstanding Sustainer of that same organization in 2014.  Mary made history by becoming the first female Rotarian in Texarkana when she joined Wilbur Smith Rotary Club (previously named Downtown Rotary Club).  She was later honored as a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.  The list of organizations continues:  Texarkana Homeless Coalition, UCRC United Community Resource Council, TACOAD Texarkana Area Coalition Organization Active in Disaster, Hands On Texarkana Board, Leadership Texarkana Board Member and Texarkana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  She is an active lifetime member of First United Methodist Church and she retired from as an administrator from Texarkana Texas Independent School District in 2000.  Mary is the proud grand parent of six. 

Leadership Texarkana had the opportunity to ask Mary O'Farrell several questions about her views on leadership and the Texarkana community.  This is what she had to say...

From what community organization or issue or opportunity do you have a passion and invest your time, talent or money?

I invest my time, money and a lot of my energy to the clothes closet at First United Methodist Church at 4th and State Line in downtown Texarkana. Five years ago I began collecting furniture, household items and clothes from the community to give to people in need.  I was honored this year when the people in my church named the mission, Mary's Closet.  My closet has grown to include nine large rooms at this historic church. Donations come from the Texarkana community as well as the surrounding area.  I partner with the local American Red Cross to help people who have lost everything in house fires.  Eric Cain, the Executive Director of the Red Cross, is a member of my church and he spends many hours working at the church.

The members of my church are looking forward to the rebuilding of the Grim Hotel and it is our hope that our church will grow as people move to the downtown area.  A large percent of the congregation is made up of homeless people and we are in a wonderful location between the two shelters.


What do people not know about you that you would like to share with us. What are some of your passions and hobbies?

My wish is that word would spread that anyone can make an appointment and come to Mary's Closet for help. Also, if anyone has donations to make, I will pick them up in the church van. Some people know that my dream is to have a commercial clothes washer and dryer at the church so I can wash the clothes of the homeless people while they volunteer in the closet.  We often forget that people who live on the street or in the woods do not not have a way to do their laundry.  Helping the homeless and all marginalized people is my passion.


What do you most love to do in Texarkana?  What do you most love about Texarkana in general?

 I was born and raised in Texarkana and at this point in my life I love hanging out with friends and family and doing volunteer work.

The thing I love most about Texarkana is the generosity of the people. I love how supportive the people of Texarkana are of the community.

I love my God, my country, my community, my church, my family, my friends, and the Texas Longhorns. I have found that although life is not easy for any of us, it just gets better and better.


Talk to Mary O'Farrell for any amount of time and her caring for Texarkana and passion for the town comes through in some form. Her work has been evident through out her life and continues. Her smile is contagious, along with her passion. Leadership Texarkana salutes Mary O'Farrrell and thanks her for her time and work.  

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