Story By: Walla Walla Union Bulletin's Annie Charnley Eveland
Published: Mar 3, 2019
Longtime BMAC employee retires
Walla Wallan Mary Lou Jenkins retired on Friday, about 15,340 days after she began working at Blue Mountain Action Council.
When she started there 42 years ago, Jimmy Carter became U.S. president, the popular film “Rocky was released, NASA unveiled Enterprise, its first space shuttle, Nadia Comaneci won three gold medals and the $2 bill was issued.
A special reception last week honored Mary Lou’s dedication to the community, said CEO Kathy Covey in a release.
Mary Lou worked primarily with BMAC’s adult and youth employment programs and energy assistance.
However, her immense institutional knowledge of BMAC, its partner agencies and Walla Walla community “made her an invaluable resource to clients and staff alike. She is beloved in the community for her passion and compassion,” Kathy said.
“To many of our past and present clients, Mary Lou is BMAC. We’ll certainly miss her. She’s been a valued colleague and dear friend,” Kathy said.
Mary Lou came on board as a receptionist/typist in 1976. Soon thereafter, she moved to the employment training and placement program.
“Her rapport with youths and adults looking for work or training was outstanding.” It helped that in some situations she was bilingual in Spanish and English.
“She proudly hung her GED diploma on her office wall, to be an example to those she worked with. Soon her diploma was surrounded by the certificates and diplomas of those she inspired,” Kathy said.
Coworkers knew her as one who said yes when asked for help — she lent a hand to many BMAC programs. Kathy described Mary Lou as “a sort of living history of BMAC.”
And her active involvement in the community reached beyond the nonprofit social services agency.
Walla Walla Valley Soroptimist Club named her a Woman of Distinction in 2008 for her tireless efforts toward changing lives and changing the community through her work at BMAC, Los Aspirantes, State Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee and Friends of Children of Walla Walla.
And she served on the Walla Walla City Council from January 2012-December 2015.
“It has been a privilege and honor to have served the customers at BMAC as I was allowed to do for 40-plus years,” Mary Lou emailed.
In addition to Kathy, Mary Lou worked with CEOs Pete Frisvold, Phyllis Pulfer and Steve Moss and is grateful for their guidance and support. She also said her many co-workers became her second family.
Now it’s onward into the new phase in her life, a time she’s looking forward to. Happy trails, Mary Lou.