Monday, November 18, 2013

Volunteer and Advocacy

The past few months have been kind of hard with figuring out how I want to spend my time.  I graduated high school spring of 2005.  After that, every semester from fall of 2006 to spring of 2013 I attended college (including some summers).  However, this fall semester I chose not to go back and to take a break.  I have my associates in communications from Normandale Community College and attended one semester at St. Thomas University to get my bachelors in communications.

Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2011

Over the past couple years I’ve had the privilege of being an active part of my community.  I won Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2011 in which gave me an opportunity to attend events and advocate for people with disabilities.  I did speaking engagements and went to various events promoting my platform, making multiple connections and inspiring others.  I also flew on an airplane for the first time since my accident to attend the Ms. Wheelchair America competition in Michigan, where I won 4th runner-up.

Since 2006, I’ve done motivational/public speaking to over 25 different schools, organizations and events.  My goal has always been to share my life story, educate others, and to show the abilities of people with disabilities.  By speaking, I teach others not to take things for granted, never give up and to live life to its fullest.  I’ve spoken to physical therapists, nurses, engineers, others with disabilities, the public, schools etc. (anywhere from 1st to 12th grade).

Aside from motivational speaking, I’m on a couple of Board of Directors.  Currently I’m on the BOD for Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota and Midwest Special Services.  I attend meetings and state my opinions along with making decisions about the different nonprofit organizations.  I’m also on committees within the Boards.  It feels great to be able to have a voice in such great organizations helping others.

I was a volunteer at Gillette Children’s Hospital.  In 2006, I worked with kids in outpatient doing crafts and watching them colored.  It was cool because I had my own table set up.  They could come over and spend their wait time keeping busy.  I love to see what creative talent came out of every piece of artwork.  As of now, I am a volunteer at Gillette’s Lifetime Clinic.  My job description is to work with people using speech recognition software.  The clinic hasn’t needed me for a while on that specific of a topic.

Eric LeGrand telling his story and answering questions.

Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of doing a lot of volunteering, advocating and attending events.  Last month on October 5, I attended a kickoff event for new members put on by the Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury Association (MNSCIA).  As stated on their Facebook page, “The Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury Association (MN Chapter of NSCIA) is an advocate for people affected by spinal cord injury/paralysis in Minnesota by being the central point of access to resources.”  On November 15, they co-hosted an event I attended that featured Eric Legrand.  He is a former Vikings player who sustained a spinal fracture during a football game.

Speaking at Ridgefield Middle School-November 15, 2013

Also over the past couple months I did motivational speaking to a middle school and high school.  I love being able to talk to the kids and tell them that anything is possible and not take things for granted because you never know what’s going to happen.  After I speak, I always have a question and answer session in which they really respond to.  It also helps me for speaking in the future to know what’s important and what kind of things they want to know.  I’m hoping to do more speaking soon.

I’m very proud of all the things I’ve been able to do to help out others in my current situation.  And although I’m not going to school as of now, I know my accomplishments and achievements have not gone unnoticed.  I’m going to continue expanding my knowledge and helping people in need.


Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.


vasiliki said...

The fact that you have a beautiful soul,filled with love and grace is
undeniableNevertheless,please allow me for a moment to express a sponaneous thought:your pic is absolutely amazing.You like like a princess from a fairy tale:)
Thank you for sharing your personal story.The mere thought of you gives me the courage to face my own serious health challenge.
lots of love from Greece,

Lisa Jamieson said...

What beautiful heart and vision are reflected in the grace-filled ways you are using your time, talents and circumstances, Jenny! I hope you are encouraged. I know I sure am inspired to see what love and energy God has planted in you.

riotwalter said...

nnprofVery cool, my friend. Your friendship has been and continues to be my best gift of 2013.