Our final team members’ profile! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed getting to know each member of our pilot team heading over to Zimbabwe for EF’s first Service & Leadership trip. We leave in just under two weeks, and in case you missed it, we’ve had a quick change of plans after an amazing opportunity popped up for us! Anyhow, thanks for taking a quick moment to meet Jenna:
Jenna was born in upstate NY and is currently living in Boston. She grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she found her second home as a member of the Youth Group at the Presbyterian New England Congregation Church, a youth group that has a remarkable appreciation for the importance of travel and volunteerism. As a result of being in a group led by such incredible people, combining travel and service quickly became her passion. After graduating HS in 2005, Jenna moved to Boston, with the support of her YG leaders, to continue her volunteerism as an AmeriCorps member at City Year Boston, an education-focused nonprofit that unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service. After serving two years with CYB and another year spent teaching gymnastics, Jenna moved from Boston to San Francisco where she continued teaching. While there, she began volunteering at The Center for Music National Service (MNS), a nonprofit organization that supports music as a strategy for public good. A year later, she returned to Boston and began teaching in the Brookline Public Schools Extended Day program, where she has spent the past three years teaching and playing with her favorite kiddos. Jenna most recently continued her nonprofit work as the Boston Community Organizer for Calling All Crows and Amplifying Education.
She has a love for travel, volunteering, meeting new people, pretending to be a photographer and eating. Jenna is a former vegetarian who was reunited with her love for hot dogs while living in Greece last summer. Yummm! She thinks with her heart, (maybe to a fault), and is rather spontaneous with her “next steps”. She credits her mother for her love of living simply and enjoying the little things, and, like her mother, Jenna is a firm believer that “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
What does this trip to Zimbabwe mean to you?
This trip to ZImbabwe means having the chance to experience a culture outside of my norm and to form life-long relationships with those whom I’d otherwise never meet. I have never been to Africa and can only imagine how powerful the service, the people, the stories and the memories will be in impacting my leadership development and my dream to pay it forward while seeing the world.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Moved across the country with a packed suitcase and a $20 bill. For whatever reason, my dream as a kid was always to live in California. So, after a few years living in Boston I hopped on Craigslist and found an apartment in San Francisco. I packed a suitcase full of clothes, gave away the rest of my things, and emptied my bank account on a one-way ticket. I remember getting off the BART in SF for the first time and having to call my friend Niq in NYC to ask if she’d google map directions from the train to my new apartment for me. Looking back, I’m not sure how I pulled it off. It was a poorly planned move that turned out to be nothing short of life changing. I moved back to Boston after a year of exploring and meeting new people. I’ve been back for almost three years and will be moving back out to SF this September. This time, with a bit more planning.
Quote from your favorite book?
“It’s the possibility of having your dreams come true that makes life interesting.” – The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.
Who/What do you think about when you hear the phrase, “I am strong if You are strong”?
I think of my twin, Josh. I was introduced to the Elias Fund in 2010 and immediately bought a set of “I am strong if You are strong” bracelets. I wore one and sent the other off to Josh. He’s always been a Dispatch fan and told me later that he had just been listening to the song ‘Elias’ the day he got my package. Of course he was. Whether he knows it or not, I wouldn’t change being his sister for the world. I’ve been lucky enough to know he is a part of me every day, and even LUCKIER to know that he is a fellow team member and we’ll be sharing this incredible trip together!!! I really AM strong if he is strong. Maybe it’s a twin thing.
If you’d like to specifically support Jenna’s trip, checkout her StayClassy fundraising page. Or feel free to shop for her at ELIAS. Thanks!