January Jefferson Award: Serving the homeless for nearly 30 years

Marcy Jensen - January 2022
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 7:49 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – The Dorothy Day house has been serving the homeless community of Rochester for the past 37 years. Run solely by volunteers, the house provides meals, warm beds and a sense of community for those who find themselves in need. For the past 30 years, Marcy Jensen has filled crucial roles at the house.

Ryan Cardarella, president of the house, say’s she’s been a cornerstone for the program. “She’s really the heart and soul of the Dorothy Day House and has been for a long time. She’s somebody who steps in and does whatever is needed whether that’s taking shifts, organizing cooking shifts, coordinating the volunteers, she kind of does it all.”

Marcy first started volunteering in March of 1992 when she was already working full time, but wanted to find a way to give back. “I knew that if I went to Ronald McDonald there would be a lot of tears, and if I went to Paws and Claws I’d have a lot of furry babies at home. So I chose Dorothy Day and it was the best choice. It worked just perfect.”

She says the best part about volunteering at the house, is the relationships you make.

“The volunteers really become family. And the guests, they’re the important part. You get to know them, you get to know about them.”

There’s one guest who’s actions have left a lasting impact on her.

“He was known as the Can Man around town, his name was George Arts. He was staying for the night, and we were full. Another individual came in and George gave up his bed for that individual so that they could stay in. That has always stuck with me, his kindness.”

Marcy was able to be present when George passed years ago, and his funeral ceremony was actually held at the Dorothy Day House.

And even though Marcy’s selfless service has helped keep Dorothy Day’s doors open, she says she’s the one that really benefits.

“We come and think we’re going to be the ones helping others, and we’re the ones that get the payback. It’s really great, we get more back than what we’re giving.”

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