In honor of her grandmother, the late Marlys Krein, Jenny Krein has set up a $500 scholarship for graduating seniors who exemplify Marlys’s well-known spirit of volunteerism.
Marlys was a super volunteer who contributed extensively to the community, in everything from youth sports to calling bingo for senior citizens. She also took on perhaps the most demanding volunteer task in town: staffing the homeless warming shelter on overnight shifts.
She may have been best known for her 62 years of volunteering for Red Cross blood drives, where she worked in the canteen serving donuts.
Jenny, the daughter of Bob and Joy Krein, herself benefitted from receiving scholarships when she graduated from high school in Heppner. So she saw a scholarship in her grandmother’s name as a way to give back, to honor her grandmother’s contribution and recognize the volunteer efforts of a graduating senior.
Jenny, who lives in Tigard with her husband and two children, has seeded the scholarship with $1,000 and will continue to fund it as long as she can. She said donations to the Marlys Krein Memorial Scholarship fund are welcome.
Tax deductible donations can be made out in Marlys’ memory to the North Wasco County School District 21 Scholarship Foundation and mailed or dropped off at The Dalles High School, 220 E. 10th St.
The local scholarship packet is due for seniors on March 2, and scholarship awards will be made on Senior Scholarship Awards Night, Tuesday, May 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
Jenny said in the social media era, people may post about their volunteer efforts and follow it with, “#volunteer and #giveback. My grandma didn’t have social media and it can seem like people just want everybody to know what they did. She just did it because it was the right thing to do, and she didn’t need that recognition.”
But she got it anyway, being named the outstanding volunteer of the year in 2011 by The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Marlys and her late husband Art, who died in 1995, moved to The Dalles in 1950. Marlys worked for 17 years at JC Penney in the shoe department and was known as the “shoe lady.”
She was a ticket taker at baseball games, becoming a familiar face to athletes who played Hustler, Babe Ruth and The Dalles High School baseball.
Marlys also delivered Meals on Wheels, volunteered at a local nursing home, was active in the American Legion Auxiliary, chaired the Girls State program for a time and was active with the Oregon State University Extension program.
Jenny said the scholarship doesn’t have a GPA requirement. “My grandma was definitely all for ‘anybody can do anything’ so she certainly wouldn’t want to have anybody excluded as far as grade requirements.”
And Jenny concurs. “In all fairness, you never know. I know a lot of successful people that had really bad GPAs.”
Her grandma was always one for urging her to soldier on. “She’s definitely a strong believer in hard work and if you get knocked down, get up and try a little harder next time.”
“She taught me a ton about work ethic and being tough. She didn’t cry and get overwhelmed with emotion.”
She learned that her grandma put on a strong face for people. Jenny recounted how Marlys once told her, “’I would just cry when I got home.’ I never knew that about her.”
“She was kind, giving and generous,” Jenny said.
So it was no surprise that after Marlys passed, local social media pages filled with tributes to her.
Some recounted receiving holiday cookies from her. Marlys loved to bake and she loved Christmas. Her home was always decorated seasonally, but especially for Christmas.
One social media poster recounted, “One year a long time ago, when she worked in the JC Penney’s shoe department, knowing I didn’t have much money, she bought my kids shoes. I never forgot and passed it on. Sweet lady.”
Jenny thought it was ironic that her grandma, who didn’t even own a cell phone and certainly wasn’t on social media, was celebrated on it upon her passing. “She would’ve gotten a kick out of it.” She recounted how Marlys got a star for her 2011 chamber award, “she had it on her door, it was a stick-on. She didn’t do it for the need of recognition, but you could tell later on she was really proud of that star.”
Marlys always volunteered at the blood drive held the day after Thanksgiving. This past year, in her honor, Jenny and her family also volunteered, and her husband donated blood. “It turns out he was a really, really unique blood type they really need. He’s A negative. So now they’re like stalking him,” she joked.