‘The Attic’ founder given advocacy award – Albert Lea Tribune

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners recognized Mary Jo Jensen as the recipient of the Rose Olmsted Advocacy Award 2021 during their meeting on Tuesday.

Jensen has started a community donation program to help families get out of poverty and homelessness.

“The need in Freeborn County has been overwhelming at times,” said Jensen after receiving the award at the Freeborn County Government Center. “If we can help one family at a time, we’ve done something good.”

The 2015 award recognizes “a Freeborn County citizen, professional, or volunteer whose advocacy for an individual, family, or community exemplifies service to others.”

It’s named after longtime Freeborn County’s social worker Rose Olmsted.

Jensen started “The Attic” as part of a confirmation project at East Freeborn Lutheran Church. With the help of school social workers and area pastors, she identified those in need and later collected and distributed items from members of the Church.

“(Jensen) has served tirelessly while holding back and not wanting recognition,” said Donna Nelson in a nomination letter to the selection committee.

Today donations are made from churches across the area and work in helping customers at the Freeborn County homeless shelter is done through the Albert Lea office of the Southeast Minnesota Community Action Center.

Jensen said she was “really humble and honored” to receive the award and thanked partner organizations and friends and family members who helped move items for recipients.

“We hope to continue this mission,” she said.

Jensen then quoted her mother: “Don’t just count your blessings; Share them. “

A United Way of Freeborn County’s volunteer blog notes that Jensen’s work has helped more than 400 families who received help from the Freeborn County’s homeless shelter.

Jensen also volunteered for early childhood development and adult education courses.

“Mary works endlessly to ensure that no one in Freeborn County can get by without basic necessities and that everyone deserves dignity and respect,” said Penny Jahnke, coordinator of the adult education center, in a nomination letter.

Past winners include Marilyn Claassen (2020), Jacqueline Carstens (2018), Jo Lowe (2017), Andrea Hall (2016) and Jennifer Lloyd-Benson (2015).

The board went through an easy agenda in just 30 minutes.

The commissioners will meet on March 9 at 8:30 a.m. for a non-voting, discussion-dominated workshop.

Other highlights from Tuesday were:

  • Commissioners called for upcoming workshops to include the discussion time for the state’s review of relocating driving test services from Albert Lea and the state’s proposed emission control legislation.

There is no schedule for the Driver and Vehicle Services Division to consolidate test stations. Albert Lea’s site has been closed since the outbreak of the pandemic.

However, there is a deadline of March 15 for public comment on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s proposed regulation. Public hearings took place practically in February.

The commissioners said they would like to write letters proposing to maintain a driving test area in Albert Lea and oppose the PCA emissions measure.

  • The commissioners unanimously agreed to purchase three tandem dump trucks made by Mac for a total of $ 720,000. The order now had to be placed in time for the 2022 winter season. The box and plow equipment has a March 30 deadline, while the chassis is ordered in October.

County Engineer Philip Wacholz told the group that the purchase will complete the fleet’s transition from International to Mac, noting that the funds for the purchase are included in the tentative budget for 2022.

“This will be the last replacement,” he said. “They are emergency devices and must be ready for use under all conditions.”

  • Wacholz informed the board that the district and the state will introduce annual spring load restrictions for roads on Thursday. The weight restrictions usually last six weeks.
  • The board approved the move of Joshua Hanson, building and groundskeeper, to full-time status.

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