“There is not a way of putting a value on 47 years of dedication to one agency” stated SENCA’s Executive Director, Vicky McNealy, in honoring Mary Jane Gist during the Head Start training event that was held in August.
Mary Jane retired from her full-time position as SENCA Head Start Family and Community Partnership Coordinator on August 14th.
In 1973 Mary Jane, a Falls City resident and recent college graduate, was looking for an opportunity to make a difference, and what better way than through improving the lives of low-income children and their families. “I saw the job for Head Start advertised in the paper” commented Mary Jane “so I applied, went for an interview and was hired. Sometime later I remember my supervisor telling me that she had looked at me in that interview and thought ‘how is that blonde headed little girl ever going to relate to families’, and I think I was a big surprise.” Mary Jane didn’t have previous experience with home visits or working with families, but she had always loved people and children, and as 47 years of history proves itself, Mary Jane was definitely the right person for the job and a true living legacy!
Angie Antholz, SENCA’s Head Start/Deputy Director, shares “Mary Jane is one of the most compassionate, caring people I have ever met. Her love of children and families is at the center of her being and has provided her with much success over the years. The countless number of children and families Mary Jane has touched over the years have been blessed.”
So what will life after almost a half-a-century with Head Start be like for Mary Jane after she retires? Well, even though her full-time duties with Head Start will sadly come to an end, Mary Jane has been committed to staying involved with the program helping throughout the transition process of hiring and training her successor. In addition Mary Jane is looking forward to spending more time with husband, Dick as well as helping son Thomas, his wife, Emily, and their two little boys by taking on more “Grandma” duties.
On behalf of Head Start, and all SENCA programs and services, we wish Mary Jane many years of happiness as she enjoys this new chapter of her life.
The 2020 Head Start Leadership Team - Deb Hammon, Anita Kimpston, Mary Jane Gist, Angela Antholz, Erin Schwartz
Mary Jane and husband Dick and son Thomas
Mary Jane Celebrating 35 years with Head Start - Max Winslow, Diana Bantz, Susan Johnson, Mary Jane Gist, Anita Kimpston, Amy Wynn
Mary Jane Celebrating 45 Years with Vicky McNealy, SENCA Executive Director
Mary Jane Gist, it was 1970 something!