Margo was born and reared in Palm Beach County, Florida in a small farming community on the southern tip of Lake Okeechobee. She graduated from Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach and then Dunbarton College of Holy Cross in Washington D.C.
Margo and her husband, Roger, landed in Rockwall in August, 1985, when he was the Vice President of Loss Prevention of Joske’s of Texas.
Margo was selected to help guide the direction of the Helping Hands organization in August,1989 as it’s first Executive Director. With a background in social work and experience in managing an indigent guardianship program in San Antonio, Margo brought broad experience to Helping Hands. She has directed the agency’s development from a store front to a four building complex on more than ten acres with an annual budget of $2.7 million.
When she was hired, the agency was housed on Kenway in a 2,400 square foot store front. By 1992, the agency had built and moved into the Reeves Service Center on First Street. In addition to the Thrift Store and Emergency Assistance Program, the State Health Department and the Department of Health and Human Services relocated to the building. Nine other agencies like CASA and Habitat for Humanity established offices with Helping Hands, helping them become a true “one-stop” social service center for Rockwall County residents.
Today, Helping Hands touches more than 10,000 lives every year through the Assistance and Referral program, Food Pantry and Health Center. The agency occupies two campuses, the Reeves Center on First Street and a campus at 950 Williams Street. Helping Hands provides financial aid for shelter and utility bills, groceries from the Food Pantry and basic healthcare from the Health Center. The Centsible Thrift Store provides clothing and household goods at low prices or, for free to qualified clients. Forty employees and 150 regular volunteers work to provide services to customers, clients and patients.
Since moving to Rockwall over 29 years ago, Margo has served the community with the utmost devotion. She is an honorary member of the Rockwall Rotary Club and has received the Jean Harris Award and is a Paul Harris Fellow. She serves in advisory capacities to the Rockwall Agricultural Extension Service, Rockwall MusicFest and is a member of the Board of Directors for Rockwall PETS.
Margo received the Soroptimist Women of Distinction award and reigned as Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball for Hubbard Chamber Music Series. She was appointed by the Rockwall County Judge to the Dallas Extended Metropolitan Area Health Services Planning Council and the North Central Texas Workforce Development Board.
Margo Nielsen was appointed to the City Council in 2005 where she served for seven years. Nielsen has served on numerous non-profit Boards and Commissions including the Rockwall County Child Protective Services Board, the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of the City of Rockwall and Rockwall’s Building and Standards Commission. She was a charter member of Rockwall Area Habitat for Humanity and Lone Star CASA, was president of the Lone Star chapter of National Charity League, president of the Rockwall Housing Development Corporation, president of the Shores Ladies Golf Association, served nine years as a commissioner on the Rockwall Housing Authority and six years on the Rockwall Child Protective Services Board. Nielsen has also served on the Rockwall County Committee on Aging.
Throughout her career, Margo has been a tireless advocate for our Rockwall County residents experiencing a crisis situation. The positive impacts that have been made within Helping Hands agency and to the well-being of our entire community as a result of Margo’s incredible dedication and selfless service are difficult to quantify and truly ascertain!
It is Margo’s final year at the helm of the agency as she announces to retire on her 25th anniversary and her 70th birthday! She has been an uncommon leader, driven to ensure that essential health and emergency services are available to everyone in Rockwall County.
Submitted by Rockwall Helping Hands