ROCKWALL, TX (Dec. 17, 2014) Friends of Rockwall County Helping Hands liken the legacy of Margo Nielsen to a quote from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Clearly, the spirit of Helping Hands today is a reflection of Nielsen’s giving of herself.
Past and present Boards of Directors, volunteers and staff invite the community to join them in honoring the retiring Executive Director during a “Magic of Margo” event Jan. 24 at the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront. The retirement party will reflect on the evolution of the agency under Margo’s direction, recalling the challenges and joys of leading RCHH since the early 1990s. Longtime friends of RCHH will share remembrances of Nielsen and her impact on the community. The celebration will not only mark Margo’s 25th anniversary with Helping Hands, but also her 70th birthday.
“It will be an opportunity to recognize Margo’s many accomplishments in Rockwall County as well everything she’s accomplished as Executive Director of Helping Hands. As a community, this is our chance to honor her, applaud her work, and show her our gratitude,” said Heath Mayor Lorne Liechty, Chairman of the Board of Helping Hands.
Tickets are available at rockwallhelpinghands.com.
Community members are invited to share stories or photos by contacting Melody Hail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margo was born in a farming community on the southern tip of Lake Okeechobee inPalm Beach County,Florida. She graduated from Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach and then Dunbarton College of Holy Cross in Washington D.C.
Margo and her husband landed in Rockwall in 1985 when Roger was with Joske’s ofTexas. Margo was selected to guide the Helping Hands organization in 1989 as its first Executive Director. She had a background in social work and experience in managing an indigent guardianship program inSan Antonio. Since that time, she directed the agency’s development from a small storefront to a four building complex on more than 10 acres with an annual budget of $2.7 million.
When Margo was hired, Helping Hands was housed on Kenway Street in a 2,400 sq. ft. storefront. By 1992, the agency had built and moved into the Reeves Service Center on First Street. In addition to the Thrift Store and Emergency Assistance Program, the State Health Department and the Department of Health and Human Services relocated to the building. Nine other agencies like CASA and Habitat for Humanity established offices with Helping Hands, helping them become a “one-stop” social service center for Rockwall County residents.
Today, Helping Hands touches more than 10,000 lives every year through the Assistance and Referral program, Food Pantry andHealthCenter. The agency occupies two campuses – the Reeves Service Center on First Street and a campus at 950 Williams St. Helping Hands provides financial aid for shelter and utility bills; groceries from the Food Pantry; and basic healthcare from the Health Center. The Centsible Thrift Store provides clothing and household goods at low prices, or for free to qualified clients. Forty employees and 150 regular volunteers work to provide services to customers, clients and patients.
Margo is an honorary member of the Rockwall Rotary Club and has received the Jean Harris Award and is a Paul Harris Fellow. She serves in advisory capacities to the Rockwall Agricultural Extension Service, Rockwall MusicFest and is a member of the Board of Directors for Rockwall Pets.
Margo received the Soroptimist Women of Distinction Award and reigned as Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball for Hubbard Chamber Music Series. She was appointed to the Dallas Extended Metropolitan Area Health Services Planning Council and the North Central Texas Workforce Development Board. She was appointed to City Council in 2005 where she served for seven years.
Margo has served on the Rockwall County Child Protective Services Board, the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of the City of Rockwall and Rockwall’s Building and Standards Commission. She was a charter member of Rockwall Area Habitat for Humanity and Lone Star CASA, president of the Lone Star Chapter of National Charity League, president of the Rockwall Housing Development Corporation and president of the Shores Ladies Golf Association. She has also served on the Rockwall County Committee on Aging.
“Throughout her career, Margo has been a tireless advocate for residents experiencing a crisis situation,” said RCHH senior staff member Melody Hail. “She has been an uncommon leader, driven to ensure that essential health and emergency services are available to everyone inRockwallCounty. We hope you can join us for this celebration as Margo retires on her 25th anniversary and her 70th birthday!”
For those unable to attend, contributions to RCHH may be made in Margo’s honor at rockwallhelpinghands.com.
Submitted by Helping Hands, edited for publication by Blue Ribbon News.
Rockwall County Helping Hands announces new Executive Director