Jennifer is... a hater of third person biographies, so I'm going to write this one in first person
HELLO! I'm a 33 year old single mom of the beautiful little girl below. I am a writer at heart and I love to read. I travel often to see the world, and believe in constantly pushing myself outside of my comfort zones with personal development and growth. I love food and wine and music, and dancing for the sheer joy of it. I am self-employed and run my own company now, but my background is in teaching, mental health counseling and coaching. I have a Masters of Science degree in Counseling.
A couple of years ago, I was working as a social worker in Seattle, WA with homeless adults who suffered from severe medical and mental health issues. I absolutely LOVED my clients, and a lot of my job, but it was really stressful. I left my position, and ultimately social work, to start my own company and go in another direction career wise. But I never lost my love of social work, counseling, and working as an advocate for the homeless.
After years of volunteering in a limited basis and building a new life for myself and my daughter, I started to feel like I wanted to do something BIG, a project that would allow me to return to my advocacy roots and also teach my daughter that it's important to help people who are less fortunate, and to appreciate all that we have in life. I had this idea to do 7 major service projects around the world with her, and within that, started to think of things we could do that I felt like would really make a difference.
For years, I have been involved with an amazing nonprofit, Facing Homelessness, and their tagline is Just Say Hello. I have always felt like this is so powerful. So many people we meet who are homeless feel invisible: unseen, ignored, outcast. What if we all just said hello and started to see the beauty in each person, beyond their homelessness? What if I took this message on the road? The Just Say Hello Tour was born. I can't say exactly where it came from, because honestly in many ways it felt as if the idea visited me and would not let go. I simply said yes to it.
Rory is 8 years old, but she wishes I would put 9 years old, because it's "close enough." She would have described herself as shy before this trip, and sometimes still has her moments, but around stop 3 she decided we had broken her shyness: It was gone somewhere around the 100th bottle of water that she passed out to those who are homeless. When she was asked how she felt about doing this trip, she replied, "I'm grateful that we get to go help people, and sad that they are homeless."
She is heading into the 3rd grade this year. She loves to read, write, and do science. She is rather obsessed with YouTube DIY tutorials, The Ellen Show, Harry Potter, and One Direction. Her hair sometimes randomly changes colors to pink and purple. She is known to be the class clown, a fantastic artist, and a lover of cartwheels. When asked if I should add anything else, she said, "Tell them I love pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows."