story and photo
by Maren Schober
“When I was eight years old I began working with my mother at Bridebrook,” Jennifer reflects.
“During the summers and some week-ends during school I would volunteer in the daycare or Recreation Department in a variety of ways. I helped out the preschool teacher in their employee daycare center by playing with the children, setting up projects, setting up cots for naptime and reading to the kids. I absolutely loved being there and I was never bored. It was so much fun! In the Recreation Department I used to lead the morning exercise group, play cards with the residents and just talk with them most of the day. I loved doing this. That joy has stuck with me until this very day; the joy of doing things for others. “
Today Jennifer is very active in community service through her high school.
“I am the Skills USA President, which is a national organization focusing on leadership skills and community service. We host and prepare an annual thanksgiving dinner for Norwich seniors at our school, wrap gifts for needy families around the holidays, and we sponsor a toiletry drive in the spring for local shelters.”
“Another organization that I am a part of in my school is called Hogie’s Heroes. With my Civics teacher Mr. Edward Hogan we go to the Salvation Army in Norwich to sew sleeping bags for the homeless. We also help out with the after-school homework program sponsored by the Salvation Army.”
“In October, I get Norwich residents to register to vote. We stand outside of Wal-Mart reminding the customers when, how and where to vote. This work is through the “Get out the Vote, Youth and Democracy Challenge” kicked off by the Anti-Bullying Coalition. This is a Salvation Army project led by Debbie Keivitis.”
Jennifer is learning a lot from her volunteering service. “I am learning that one of the greatest joys in life is the joy you receive from helping others. You would be surprised how the smallest things like talking to someone or saying hello can brighten up a person’s day.”