Salem's Good Samaritans: Stephanie Marshall

In the three years since our foundation was founded, we’ve met a lot of amazing people in Salem who go out of their way to give back to their community. We like to call these folks Salem’s Good Samaritans.

A lot of these people do this work without ever asking for recognition, but we think some of these stories need to be told.

We’d like to start with one woman who, in the last several months, has single-handedly helped more than 100 Salem youth get money for college: Stephanie Marshall.

Stephanie’s so well-known in the community that many people who know her just call her Aunt Steph. When her two sons, Dionetai and Dione, were attending and playing sports at Salem High School, she was always making cupcakes and planning events. They both graduated years ago, but she is still doing all she can to support her hometown.

“If there’s something to do out there for my community, I want to get involved,” she said. “I don’t worry about how much time it takes. I don’t mind if it’s raining or storming. If I can help, I’m on it.”

Lately, that has meant going door-to-door and telling other parents with school-aged children about the Acorn Fund, our program that gives any child living or attending public school in Salem City money for college. We now have more than 600 Salem students signed up, and Stephanie is a major reason for that.

“I feel so many people from this community think they can’t go to college,” she said. “All they have to do to take advantage of this money is sign up.”

The Acorn Fund, like all our programs, is made possible by the remarkable generosity of Dr. Forman S. Acton, a Salem resident, engineer, computer scientist and educator who left $30 million to help Salem’s youth when he passed away in 2014.

Our foundation administers that gift, putting it toward scholarships and grants to empower Salem children. We created the Acorn Fund in 2016 through a $275,000 grant, and we aim to continuously donate to the program so that every child who’s born or attends public school in the city will have a college savings account.

Stephanie has been so effective at signing up children for that program that she is now officially an outreach worker, paid through a grant to the United Way, so that she can continue making sure every eligible child receives the college savings money Dr. Acton intended for them to receive.

“Forman Acton did a wonderful thing for the children around here because he saw they had potential, too,” Stephanie said. “I just think it’s an awesome and amazing thing and we need to let people know about it.”

Do you know of any other Good Samaritans in Salem who we should feature? Please send us a note to


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