“Having a place to go, a place to give, and a place to make new friends improved my quality of life literally overnight.”– Jen.

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Volunteer Profiles - Meet Jen

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Jen credits her interest in volunteering and giving back to her parents who valued volunteerism, and who had their children participate in volunteer programs alongside them.

“Growing up in Santa Cruz, my family would benefit from programs that helped families going through a rough patch. When times were tough, my mother's response was oftentimes to give - even when it felt like we didn't have much to share. Some of my most vivid memories of volunteering as a kid are wrapping presents and organizing donations from a toy drive,” states Jen.

Jen moved away from Santa Cruz when she was in her early 20's for school and work. Then nearly a decade later, in 2017 she and her husband returned to Santa Cruz and settled into their first home together.

The move came at a time when she was transitioning from a fast-paced work environment, to fully embracing a work-from-home model while investing in her own company.

“Working from home proved to be more challenging than I expected, and I faced some really low days. I lacked motivation, I was inefficient, and felt the lack of structure was making me unhappy. I needed something external to get me up in the morning, dressed, out the door, and ready for the day. That's when I went online and searched 'volunteer in Santa Cruz' and found the Volunteer Center,” states Jen.

She signed up that day to begin bagging groceries with Grey Bears and help as a 'Lead Elf' at the Adopt-A-Family warehouse during the donation drop-off process.

“Having a place to go, a place to give, and a place to make new friends improved my quality of life literally overnight,” states Jen.

Jen has now been volunteering with the Adopt a Family Project for the past three years. This annual project provides families struggling to make ends meet, with basic necessities and holiday wishes. This year the project will support over 500 families in need.

Aside from working in the warehouse, Jen has helped answer calls on the hotline, and this year, is serving on the planning committee alongside an incredible team of fellow volunteers.

“Everyone has a gift to give and I love that the Adopt-A-Family program leaves space for everyone. Whether you have time, money, or resources to give, the Adopt-A-Family program needs you,” states Jen.

The Adopt-A-Family Project has become a part of her family holiday tradition and one she intends to continue as she raises her own kids in the tradition of giving.

“It is how we kick off the holiday season in our house. From taking the time to find the items on our adopted family's wish-list, to wrapping the presents in the prettiest paper we can find - it truly is a joyful process. It's true, you get more than you give,” states Jen.

“If you're down on your luck, or just in a funk, I encourage you to seek out ways you can volunteer in your community. I promise your spirits will be lifted and your heart will be impacted,” continues Jen.

GIVE YOUR TIME: Are you also looking for ways to find meaning this holiday season? Learn more about volunteering with the Adopt a Family Project.

FIND YOUR CAUSE: Still trying to discover your passion? The Volunteer Center can help. Connect with a Match-Maker

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