NRRA Honors Long-Time Volunteer, Mary Jane (MJ) Poch

NRRA recently had the opportunity to recognize our long-term volunteer, Mary Jane (MJ) Poch.  Paula Dow, NRRA's Finance and Human Resource Manager, who has worked with MJ the  longest of all NRRA staff, shares the following reflection on MJ's service.  

It was 1998 when Mary Jane (MJ) first approached NRRA about the possibility of volunteering.  I remember taking that initial phone call.  MJ had contacted the RSVP program, run by the Friends Program, to inquire about a volunteer opportunity.  Kay Croak, then Executive Director of RSVP, referred MJ to NRRA.  At the time, MJ was actually too young to officially sign up as an RSVP volunteer, but Kay was familiar with our organization and told MJ to contact us. 

As many of you know, it can be difficult to find volunteers – particularly good ones who want to volunteer regularly.  We were absolutely thrilled that MJ wanted to come in two days a week and assist us with clerical work.  At that time, she would answer phones, file, make photocopies and just generally do whatever was asked of her. 

Over the years, MJ’s schedule and tasks varied, but one thing never changed -  MJ’s commitment and dedication to NRRA and its mission.  At one point, MJ decided to try a new opportunity so she left NRRA  and went on to volunteer at a local school.  The truth is, NRRA had become such a part of MJ (and vice versa) that she couldn’t easily escape!  She still helped NRRA with our annual conference.  Not only would MJ come to help us organize name badges and get ready for the big day, but she went as far as getting several of her friends to come and volunteer with her. 

A few years passed, and I received another phone call from MJ.  I’ll never forget that conversation.  Here’s how it went:  MJ to me: “Yeah, do you people need any help?”  My response: “Of course we do – is that even a question?”  MJ decided that she really wanted to come back, and we welcomed her with open arms! 

Since then, MJ has become affectionately known as our “filing queen”.  MJ handles all of the filing for our cooperative marketing program – and that is no small feat!  She takes this job very seriously, and everyone here is happy to let her be in charge of it.  Since many of us have less than stellar filing skills, MJ is adamant that we never replace files that we remove.  Rather, they must be put on her desk so that she can file them in the proper place.  Everyone is happy to comply (especially since none of us want that job anyway!).

In 2016, MJ was inducted to the NRRA Hall of Fame – which is an honor reserved for those who have served at least 10 years with NRRA. 

Though delayed a bit due to COVID-19, NRRA was finally able to recognize MJ at our office on April 15, 2021.  We were also fortunate to have RSVP be part of this celebration.  Some staff gathered with masks and socially distanced in person, while others joined electronically.  Lily Wellington, Director of Senior Programs from the Friends Program, also attended.  While NRRA honored MJ for having volunteered for us for over 18 years, RSVP honored MJ for total volunteer service of 30 years!  Pictured below is Lily presenting MJ with her 30-year volunteer pin from the RSVP program. 

It was a great morning filled with food, laughter, and recognition.  MJ was thrilled and surprised to be recognized.  I heard MJ say more than once, “I’m truly overwhelmed.”  The truth is, MJ, we are overwhelmed with your on-going dedication and commitment to this crazy bunch.  Words seem inadequate to describe our appreciation, but I hope you know how much you are valued.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  You have really made a difference, and you should be proud!