By Madina Toure
A Hollis woman may be a correction officer at Rikers Island during the day, but in southeast Queens she is known for volunteering and supporting her community at just about every level.
Marie Slaughter, 50, is a longtime volunteer for the Jamaica Homeless Shelter as well as the Cross Island YMCA and comes to Thomasina Catering Hall in St. Albans once a month to stand behind the neighborhood business and mingle with fellow churchgoers. She is also a member of the NAACP’s Jamaica chapter and the Democratic Club.
Slaughter is motivated by a deep religious faith.
When she had emergency surgery due to an intestine problem, she said she survived because God gave her another chance and inspired her.
“I believe that everybody here on this Earth is here for a purpose,” Slaughter said. “My purpose is to try to help make this world a better place.”
Starting at age 12, she worked for two years as a newspaper girl with routes in Hollis, where she grew up. At 16, she began working for a dry cleaner, a job she held for six years.
Slaughter, who has a 10-year-old daughter Antoinette, attended New York City College of Technology to become a computer technician, but left to care for her mother, who died at 67 of congestive heart failure. She also held positions at Sears, the now-closed Alexander’s and the American Stock Exchange.
The community activist started working at Rikers Island in 1989. She was employed at Wards Island from 1990 to 1994 before returning to Rikers Island.
A union delegate for the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for 18 years, she was the first woman assigned to her unit.
Raised in the Holiness Church of Jesus Christ on 199th Street and Hollis Avenue, Slaughter has served as a Sunday school teacher and an usher.
Outside of her job, she has been volunteering at the Jamaica Homeless Shelter since she was 15 and also volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House on Long Island. Once a month, she and her daughter distribute food to children living at the house.
And Slaughter has also given back to the Cross Island YMCA, where she takes her daughter. She hosted a walk-a-thon to raise money for kids to have a safe haven during the summertime and an after-school program at the Y.
At Rikers she is involved in the care, custody and control of inmates and the highlight is when people come back to her to say they appreciated her advice.
“The best part of my job is motivating prisoners and officers to try to make themselves better people,” she said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour