Well, I feel like I am a little different that most of the members in Costumers with a Cause. Growing up I didn’t follow comic books or cartoons (other than Looney Tunes). My childhood was different than most. But, I always knew I enjoyed helping people and knew that was my life’s purpose. I was a volunteer firefighter, I volunteered to rock babies who were suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome, was a volunteer Mentor for Homeless Teen Girls, and I was a Girl Scout Troop leader with two of the biggest and Troops in the Fox Valley Girl Scout Council for 7 years with each of my troops having between 17-21 girls (We were also known for doing lots of community service work). Outside of volunteering I am a personal trainer, health, fitness and life Enthusiast. I enjoy the outdoors, reading, and spending time with my family.
Here are a few questions to help you get to know Jennifer a little better:
1. What was your favorite CwC Event and why?
I can’t really say I have a “Favorite CwC Event because they all have a special meaning or purpose. Each one benefits those in need and hopefully does some good. But, I have to say my most moving time was when we visited the kids’ ward at the Children’s Hospital in Chicago. There was a brother and his older sister both being treated for cancer, sharing the same room. The strength and courage these two showed was nothing short of amazing. As a parent, I couldn’t imagine having to go through something like what their parents were going through. But the love this family had for eachother was certainly apparent and very moving.
2. If you could have any Superhero powers, currently known or otherwise, what would they be?
Superhero powers…hmmm. I would like to have the Superpower to give each kid out there the self confidence they need to be the best person they can be, to give them the courage they need to go for their dreams, the understanding and acceptance they need to recognize that other kids are just like them in many ways and to be able to appreciate the differences we all have.
3. Some people think “kids have it easy today”, do you feel that way and if so, why? If not, why?
I think I saw this question as an essay topic once but, lol. No, I don’t think kids have it easy today. In several ways I think they have it harder. Sure, they have the internet, which can be used to obtain information and items they want easier, and easier access to various resources, but it also could be used for them to access to thing the may not be ready to have access too, or for others to cause harm to them easier. Some of the issues with kids that have been happening for generations are still happening today despite the advancement in technology, and still some additional issues are making a presence potentially because of the advancement in technology, social and environmental pressures.
Are there any causes that you hold near or dear to your heart?
Every cause that touches a child in a positive way is one that I hold very close to heart. But if we are going for specifics, I would have to say, causes that impact abuse/neglected kids, homeless kids and teens, and those battling Auto Immune diseases. That being said, we all know the struggles and challenges children with cancer go through too, so that also hits me hard.
Recognition is obviously a big part of what you do here with CwC, if you could do just ONE THING, without any limitations, that might show your appreciation and gratitude for all the members with CwC, what would it be?
Holy cow! This would be an AWESOME opportunity! Our members of CwC are very special people. The ones that their hearts are really involved never ask for any sort of recognition or reimbursement for their time, skills, efforts or anything..ever. They consider the feeling they get seeing the smiles on kids and parents faces being payment enough, and oh! What a feeling that is, but, if I could do just one thing, without any limitations..thinking about this a bit..A CwC Appreciation Vacation Event with all expenses paid to The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas! We could hold a recognition banquet, costume party…just an escape to get away and relax for a bit, have some fun! We have our VIP Member Spotlight Page here but, doing something like THIS??!! Would be the bomb!
You mentioned you lead TWO large Girl Scout troops, what were some of the challenges you had when them and how do those same challenges help in your role with CwC?
Similarities of having two Girl Scout Troops with each troop having 17-23 girls each? Well, one troop I started with them when Bree was a Daisy, those are the Kindergarten aged girls, and stayed with those girls as they grew till they were in 7th grade. The other troop I took on while still leading the first troop when Stephanie was a Daisy and stayed leader of that troop until those girls were done with 3rd grade. At that point, I couldn’t get parents to help like I needed to with chaperoning and transportation so the troop unfortunately dissolved. There aren’t a lot of similarities obviously, but I think being able to recognize different personality types, being able to communicate effectively and listen helps. Time management is always an issue when planning and scheduling things that need to be done, and being able to relax and breathe when you need to rely on others to do what they say they will do and then don’t. And of course, always being flexible because unexpected things DO happen. Most importantly, with any large groups, we need to be able to ask for help when we need it and to be specific about the expectations.
You’re stranded on an island but you have all the necessities you need to survive as far as clean water, shelter, clothes, food, etc. What superhero would you want on the island with you and why?
I’d have to hope my husband, Scott would be with me. He isn’t a comic book superhero or movie hero but his is my soulmate, the yin to my yang. He challenges me almost more than anyone I’ve ever known. He knows how to get me to do something I may have doubt I can do but need to do, he gets me to push myself harder than I want to sometimes in order to obtain the result I want to achieve. You know how they say “behind every successful man is a great woman”? I think that applies the other way around as well. I’d also like for my kids to be there too because they also have their own “superhero” qualities, but I don’t think they’d want to be stuck in a deserted island with me or eachother..at least not for a long period of time.
As a behind the scenes person with CwC, what do you feel your greatest challenges are?
I think my greatest challenges are that I am the person behind the computer or on the phone getting stuff done that needs to get done so others don’t know me as well as they do the members who are at most of the events. While I would like to attend all the events, I get to events when I can get to them. My job schedule right now has prevented that from happening much since most events happen during my work schedule.
CwC is expanding, which is a good thing, that being the case, are there any specific locations you would like to see a CwC branch to be organized?
CwC has expanded in the USA, which is nice, but we need to take it slow and allow roots to grow and give the organization time to gain and maintain strength. Try to think of a tree. We could have lots of branches but if the roots aren’t there, the tree will unstable and will fall over or die. So, while I am grateful we are growing, I’d like to focus on getting the branches we have now strong and thriving before adding more on. When that happens though, I think it’d be really nice if we could EVENTUALLY have branches in more states in the USA but also perhaps in other Countries. That is some BIG DREAMING there, lol!
Finally, while differences in people are a little more acceptable, or at least out in the open nowadays than they were just even 10 years ago, other things have also have more exposure such as bullying, self harm, eating disorders, etc. If you had a message to share with the kids of today, what is it you would say to them?
So many things I would like say I don’t even know where to begin. I would tell them it is okay to be themselves. That there aren’t broken, or damaged, and that they can do ANYTHING they set their heart out to do. Telling a kid that in time, the things, the pain they are enduring right now “won’t matter” is a lie. Pain from being bullied, verbal, emotional or physical abuse, if it is pain from a condition or disease they are fighting, it’s going to matter today, and it will matter in the future. HOW it matters is up to them. They can choose to use that pain to fall back on as an excuse as to why they aren’t being the person they were meant to be, or they can use that pain to propel themselves into a whole different direction. Pain, no matter where it comes from is tough on a kid or event an adult. I would encourage them to find others out there who are doing what they want to do with their lives, who have been through similar situations and circumstances they have , or to seek help with their problems if they need to. I would hug each and every one of them out there and tell them THEY MATTER more than the pain they are going through and that they aren’t alone, as much as they may feel like they are. I would tell them how precious each one of them is, and hopefully, they would somehow, someway, believe it.
Here are some pics of Jennifer, click HERE to go back to the Leadership Team Page: