Bill Jenkins, Sr. has Served the Rural Mission With great Dedication for 38 years!

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Rural Mission News | Comments Off on Bill Jenkins, Sr. has Served the Rural Mission With great Dedication for 38 years!

Rural Mission Reflections

Abraham ?Bill? Jenkins, Sr.

Abraham ?Bill? Jenkins, a Johns Island native and eldest son?of the Civil Rights icon, the legendary Esau Jenkins, served twenty years in?the United States Air Force retiring as a Major in 1971.? Immediately following his retirement, Bill?Jenkins was hired by Rural Mission as one of its first employees to be the Community Coordinator for Health Care?on the Sea Islands.? A year later in 1972,?the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corporation was formulated, from which?Mr. Jenkins retired in 1992 after twenty years of service as its Administrator.? Bill Jenkins became an official Board member?of Rural Mission in 1973; a year after the Sea Island Health Care Corporation?had become independent from the organization. ?Mr. Jenkins served on the Rural Mission Board of Director?s for?approximately 38 years [1973 ? 2011].? We?recently interviewed Mr. Jenkins to listen to his perspective on how the?organization has evolved over the years and what he sees in the future for?Rural Mission Inc.

Who were the?board members when you were hired by the organization?

My father, Esau Jenkins, resigned from the Board?so that I could be an employee of the organization. ?William ?Bill? Saunders, who was Chair of the?Personnel Committee at the time, hired me through a health grant from the Office?of Economic Opportunity. ?Rev. McKinley Washington, Jr.,?Rev. Willis T. Goodwin and?Ms. Gedney Howe were also board members. ?I really can?t?think of the others who were on the Board?s at that particular time.

What would you?consider to be the highlight of your Board experience at Rural Mission?

Sister Maureen, the community person for Migrant Health at?the time, asked me to be on the Migrant Health Board, which met regularly in?Orlando, Florida.? Out of that commitment?we were able to initiate a Migrant Head Start program on Johns Island. ?When the federal government planned to?separate Migrant Health & Migrant Head Start into two organizations, I?recommended that Rural Mission be used as a host site for both organizations on?Johns Island in SC.

Now, what?would you consider to be one of the low points of your Board experience at?Rural Mission?

As Rural?Mission started to expand regarding the number of programs and services it?provided to the community, at one point we simply tried to take on too much. In?addition to the Volunteer Work-Camp Project, Migrant, Health & Migrant Head?Start Programs, we had a Small Farmer?s Cooperation & Seafood Factory,?etc.? We couldn?t manage to get the?fisherman to work together for the Seafood Factory; it was simply too many?different programs for us to take on at that particular time.

What?challenges do you see that face Rural Mission and the Board today and in the?future?

With the East?Coast Migrant Head Start Project becoming independent from Rural Mission this?year, it is imperative for Rural Mission and its Board of Directors to insure?that the organization is more efficient and better organized.? Difficult decisions will have to be made?regarding the organizational structure and increased demands will be placed?upon its existing staff.? The Board of?Directors is much too involved in the day to day management of the?organization.? More responsibility has to?be placed on staff, with oversight and review provided by the Board.? In these economic times, fundraising and?grant writing is one of the highest priorities. Every decade brings about new?challenges, so the Board of Directors must continue to position Rural Mission?in its proper place, so that it can continue to be available to meet the?critical needs of the Sea Island residents.

I wish Rural Mission and its Board of Directors much success.? I leave you with two familiar quotations of?my father, ?If it is to be, it?s up to?me.? And ?If you like the way things?are, then make it better, but don?t be complacent. If you don?t like it, then?change it!?

This?article and interview was prepared and conducted by Abe Jenkins, Jr., eldest?son of Mr. Abraham ?Bill? Jenkins and newly elected Rural Mission Board of?Director?s member.