Mary Allen was a young teenager when her mother taught her to knit and crochet, skills that have served her—and hundreds of babies—well for more than 70 years. She knitted sweaters for her children and later volunteered to knit and crochet for the Society, making blankets for Sailors and Marines who attend NMCRS’s Budget for Baby workshops.
Mary learned about the Society while her husband was in the Navy. He retired in 1973 after 30 years of service. Mary started knitting and crocheting baby blankets while she was still working as a nurse in 1976. When she retired from full-time work in 1996 and was teaching part-time in a nursing program, she realized she needed more to occupy her time, so she became a volunteer receptionist at NMCRS Camp Lejeune. “The senior caseworker there kept bugging me to become a caseworker,” she recalled, “So, in 1999, I finally became a volunteer caseworker.”
In 2002, Mary was recruited to serve as a relief services assistant at NMCRS New River and she’s been on staff ever since. Mary still does casework and enjoys working with Marines and Sailors. “As a nurse, you’re a helping-type of person, and here I still get to help people who come in the office. I’ve gotten a lot of ‘thank you’ and ‘oh you’ve helped me so much,’ and that gives me a sense of satisfaction.”
Mary’s husband passed away in 2009, so her volunteer service—both at NMCRS and in her church and the community—give her a feeling of purpose and something valuable to do each day. She is careful not to work too much however and maintains her tradition of an annual trip abroad. “This summer I’m going to Panama. I’ve gone to India, Peru, France, and other countries. My husband and I did a lot of traveling and I wanted to continue that.”
Congratulations, Mary, and thank you for your commitment!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso