A tribute to two longtime volunteers

Rod and Marge Jenkins, longtime Meals on Wheels volunteers

“Once we get started, we don’t back off.”

That about sums it up for Rod Jenkins when it comes to how he and his wife Marge operate.

When it comes to marriage, it’s been 68 years for them.

They enjoy camping – so much that they’ve laid their heads down in 47 different states, and all but one Canadian province. The missing one is the Northwest Territories if you’re asking.

Rod’s a Lions Club member…of 50 years.

Marge’s peanut brittle recipe that takes 1 hour per pan, just to make 4 modest bags? She’s not finished until there’s enough for all her friends and family, and plenty to sell at the church bake sale.

In that grand scheme of things for them, Rod and Marge haven’t been Meals on Wheels volunteers for that long. But for the rest of us, it’s been quite an impressive tenure.

Joanne Larsen said she’s not quite sure when Rod and Marge started delivering, but they were there when she started as the coordinator for the Southwest Minneapolis Meals on Wheels neighborhood program 20 years ago. Rod and Marge can’t quite recall when they started, but it was sometime shortly after they retired around 25 years ago.

Marge, 88, and Rod, 87, are still going strong, but they recently decided to hang up their keys, so to speak. They made their last Meals on Wheels delivery in March.

They don’t get around quite as easily as they used to, so they are pursuing other volunteer opportunities that don’t involve as much driving. To honor them for their many years of service, we sat down with the Jenkinses to learn a little bit more about them.

How they got started delivering meals: A friend at their church asked them to come along on a route – and then as they tell it, mysteriously disappeared that day. They describe it as a good-natured play and kept coming back.

Why they enjoy it: “It’s helping someone that needs help and we were able to do it,” Rod says. Marge says seeing the familiar faces on the delivery route was something she enjoyed. “They got used to seeing us every 6 weeks,” she says.

How they met: At youth group at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. They said there was a 2-month break at some point related to Marge’s father’s displeasure with Rod using his Harley as the primary method of carting his daughter around. He got rid of his Harley, and has no regrets.

How Rod met his first daughter: That didn’t come until she was 6 months old. Rod was deployed in the Korean War when she was born, and their meeting was captured on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune. Now, they have 3 daughters, 7 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.

The secret to 68 happy years of marriage: “We discuss everything thoroughly, and then we do it her way, but I get the last two words,” says Rod. “And those are, ‘Yes, dear.’” Jokes aside, Marge says that communication and compromise is what it’s all about.

Inspired by Rod and Marge? We’re always in need of more delivery volunteers. Learn more about volunteering for Meals on Wheels.

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