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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jen helped Perspectives and her self by telling her story


Jennifer, a past resident of Perspectives Inc Housing Program
One of the great blessings I have as Director of Volunteers at Perspectives Inc is keeping it real.  This holiday season I was honored for the second year in a row to coordinate and execute an adopt a family program at the human service agency I work for. All 52 of the homeless families this year, were adopted by Cargill employees. I led this holiday program not knowing how it would all work out.  One great result is that all of our families recieved gifts this year by amazing human beings at Cargill. Val from Cargill and I match donors to our families and cross our fingers that every mom and child in our housing program will get adopted. We have 150 children as well as the 52 moms. This is what the season is all about and I love being at the helm on this labour of love.

As I stepped  into the Cargill  lobby to pick up my last load of gifts by all the generous givers at Cargill  in Hopkins, MN, I  noticed many of the donors standing  in front of me with their bags of wrapped gifts.   Usually, Val Carver the lead coordinator for the adopt a family program interfaces with me, as we both load up the Perspectives Inc bus.

I had undertaken an extra job this season,  to get a  story that the Star Tribune wanted to run on our Adopt a Family Program.  They had asked me to find a Cargill family that donated to our Program.  I thanked the employees for making such an impact on our families and let them know how very much we appreciated their giving hearts.  I also knew that this was my moment to find a Cargill family for the Star Tribune story that Kristen Tillotson of the paper wanted to do on Christmas day.   Our deadline was long over due and I knew that all the leads I had looked at previously, were not going to surface.  I felt good about asking one of the Cargill employees to be photographed and a story written of them in their role as donor.  The star tribune wanted to do a photo shoot that very night and I was wary as to I if this would happen or not. I saw the value in this endeavor, yet found it harder to find the cargill person to do it.

As I took gifts out to our Perspectives bus and loaded in the toys with Cargill, I wondered if I could produce this story with the star.  It had been a very busy and exciting week with all my paper work I had to finish before going on vacation, and all the donors I greeted every day.  My hours were long but quite worth it, as I knew all our families would have a fabulous Christmas holiday.  I felt proud of the work I had done since my goal was to give each child a gift, and I knew we had done it. I shouted out to all the Cargill folks, " I wanted you all to know that the Star and Tribune would like to do a story on one of you for donating to Perspectives Inc Adopt a Family".  I heard a small voice say quite softly, " I will do it".  I said well, there are other details I would like to share with you before you make your decision.

This lovely person was Jennifer.  She and I met at my office as she helped bring some of the gifts over to our agency. She had volunteered to bring some loads over so we could organize them.   We talked about the segment and what it would entail.  Yes, she said, I would really like to give back and do this story since Perspectives helped me five years ago. 

One of the many gifts of the season was happening right here in this moment.  Jennifer explained to me that she not only was a donor from Cargill, and her family helped her gift giving,  but she also was  a past resident of Perspectives housing program.  Wow, pinch me now, because this is amazing.  Sometimes things are just meant to be said Jennifer Montillino.  When she heard me ask, she did not hesitate for a moment to answer. Things do happen for a reason, and I am a big believer in what you give out comes back. 

As I walked into my busy office with one more bag of gifts, the phone was ringing off the hook.  I looked at the receptionist and said " if that is Kristin from the Star and Tribune, please hand me the phone. The receptionist had been commenting on the volume of calls I had that week because of the gift giving programs I was heading up.  The next moment had me a phone in hand.  I said, " This is Laura, Hi Laura, this is Kristin.  I asked her if she could hold on one moment as the woman from Cargill the story was about, was right here with me.  This is no fish tale, perhaps a Christmas tale, a pretty darn good one at that I must admit.  And so the story goes.... Jen and her family were photographed that very night and she was interviewed right there on the phone in my office.

Jen wanted to openly talk of the hard times she had and how Perspectives Inc helped her find her way.  Perspectives gave her the tools but it was Jennifer that did the hard work.   She even told the reporter that she had been the recipient of this good will when she was staying at perspectives getting her life back together after her battle with addiction.  Jen said " I want to return the favor to Perspectives for helping me, so go ahead, ask your next question. 

I hope you will read the story of Jennifer that the paper did on Christmas day. I will have the link here for your enjoyment.

3 comments:

  1. Laura, that is such a neat story.... imagine the likelihood that when you asked, someone who had actually been part of the Perspectives program was RIGHT THERE - and responded. What an inspiration! Happy New Year to you, your family and the entire Perspectives group!

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  2. What a beautiful post. I know what you did brought joy this Christmas season! happy New Year! Sigh....holidays over. I guess I'll get back to hubpages next week!

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  3. Jackie,
    Thanks for the lovely comment. I know, I have not been on hub pages much at all this holiday season. Happy new year and blessings to you and your family

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