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  • Sonya Sharififard

Volunteer Spotlight: Jennifer E

Jennifer England is currently working as a Human Resources Consultant for Vonazon, Inc, a digital marketing and media agency located in downtown Ventura. Jennifer is currently completing a graduate degree in social work to become a school social worker or counselor.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer helped raise money to buy supplies for families impacted by school closures. We spoke with Jennifer about how she first became involved with Step Up Ventura and her experience. Please tell us how you first got involved with Step Up Ventura.

I first learned of Step Up Ventura when I received an email with information about a Dessert Fundraiser. At that time, I was the H.R. Manager for a local marketing agency, and we participated in quarterly volunteer/charity causes as one of our employee engagement programs. I was always on the lookout for local organizations that we could support within our community, and Step Up was a great fit for us. It just so happened that I had just gone back to school for my MSW, so I began looking at Step Up as a potential field practicum site as well.

I am currently a second-year MSW Student and found StepUp Ventura to be an excellent field practicum site for my graduate program. I wanted to work in an organization that was local to my community and directly impacted the population it served. I am also very passionate about helping children and wanted to work with kids before deciding on a social work specialization. The more I engage with the organization, the more enthusiastic I feel about the important work that Step Up does for vulnerable children and their families. What do you wish others knew about Step Up Ventura and their work? I wish that more people knew of Step Up Ventura in general! I believe that if we could get the word out about the organization and the good work it does for children in our community, people would be more inclined to support the program. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting several communities and populations, what do you think will change most significantly concerning supporting organizations, volunteer work, and the motivations to serve or give to a cause? I think that as many people have been impacted in so many different ways, fundraising efforts are going to be challenging for all organizations for the foreseeable future. Many people have lost their jobs and are struggling right now, so financial donations will probably be impossible for many people. Unfortunately, until we are through the worst of the pandemic, I think volunteer organizations are going to have a difficult time generating support for their cause. This is where creative marketing and virtual events will be very important; and targeting the right audience. What is your philosophy on giving to a cause?

When I look at various causes to give my time and money, I focus on organizations that meet the needs of populations meaningful to me and contribute in ways that I believe are directly impactful. I believe strongly in supporting children and love that Step Up Ventura offers supportive services for children that might otherwise be overlooked. I also want to ensure that an organization is truly committed to its mission statement and is ethical in its practices. Step Up fits this requirement. How did it make you feel to donate to Step Up Ventura?

To be perfectly honest, I felt like I wish I could have done more. It’s heartbreaking to know there are families that are unable to afford basic necessities and are suffering in a community where there is so much affluence. I want every child to have the best possible future and wish more people would open up their hearts and pocketbooks. With that being said, I felt that Step Up was very grateful for my donation and that the items were going to be immediately disbursed to the families, and that was a really good feeling. What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating or getting involved with the organization?

Do it. Don’t wait. These kids need us now. There are many ways that you can help, and your contribution will directly impact the lives of children that need all the support they can get. Everyone involved in Step Up is here for the right reasons, and there is no better place to volunteer your time or donate financially. Is there anything else you would like to share? I am so happy to be here and feel very welcomed by everyone in the organization.

Thank you, Jennifer!

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