United Way November Volunteer of the Month

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mary Jo Jensen

Livelihood: Housewife and grandmother of seven

City of residence: Albert Lea

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Volunteer duties: Semcac, pastors and social works at area churches and schools, public health, Healthy Families and Gifts From Above1127.volunteerofmonth

About Mary Jo Jensen

Mary Jo Jensen has made a powerful impact in the Freeborn County community. About four years ago, Jensen wanted a mission for her confirmation class at East Freeborn Lutheran Church so she challenged the youth and congregation to get donated furniture, household items and food for those in need in the community and families moving out of the Freeborn County Homeless Shelter. Jensen worked closely with the Freeborn County Homeless Shelter through Semcac and helped families moving out of the shelter with furniture and household items they needed to furnish their new homes with.

The youth from the confirmation classes often helped Jensen to pick up and deliver these items to the families in need. Many times this was done after school or on weekends.

The aspect of people donating items mushroomed and The Attic was born. Word just kept spreading about the need and items kept appearing like towels, bedding, dishes, pots and pans, lamps, TVs, VCRs, couches, chairs, tables, beds, cribs, microwaves and anything a family needed to set up a house.

One day a man came into Semcac and was in need of a wheelchair. He had just had his leg amputated and he did not have money or insurance to get a wheelchair. Jensen knew a family had recently donated a wheelchair to The Attic, so she brought the wheelchair to Semcac the next day. The man was thrilled. There are many stories like this to share of items Jensen has been able to share with families because of the kind hearts of others who graciously donate these household items with the intent they be shared with others. So often a family would be mobbing out of the shelter and in need of items and within a day, Jensen and her volunteers would be there helping. There are many helpers who willingly donate their time to The Attic.

Jensen’s name also became familiar with public health, school social workers and those other agencies that worked with the families in need. It is estimated Jensen and her volunteers have helped 400 families over the past few years that have moved out of the Freeborn County Homeless Shelter or families that have moved into the community and have only their personal possessions.