We are excited to introduce you an interview with the chair of our annual auction committee and a Dominican Volunteer alumni Jessica John. Jessica served as a volunteer at St Pius V school in Pilsen as a Physical education teacher and reading specialist. Currently, she works at the University of Chicago Medicine as a Benefits and Wellness Specialist.
What were some of the unexpected hurdles and benefits of your volunteer experience with DV USA?
Becoming a Dominican volunteer was an experience that helped to shape the last 12 years of my life. I really thought I was coming to Chicago for a year and then I would go back to Las Vegas (where I grew up) and figure out what to do with the rest of my life. But that year changed all that! During my DV year I learned more about my Catholic faith than I had learned during all of my years of attending CCD classes. I learned how to be a housemate, a neighbor, and a fellow human on this journey to understand our place in the world. I was taught about the Catholic social teaching, because the sisters I lived with were living them day in a day out (without trying!). I made friends who I consider my soul companions, helping me to find God and understand God more and more each day. I learned about heartache, about love, about compassion and about really hard truths. I learned that life is not fair, but it is still worth living, and that when we pay attention...God works...sometimes in really weird ways, but God is there.
What motivates you to be the chairman of the fundraising committee of DV USA?
Because I had such an important experience with DVUSA, I wanted to make sure my kids were going to have the same opportunities to volunteer (someday). Becoming a co-chair in 2010 was fun. Brenda Butler and I were excited to show off our party planning skills. We had a great celebration (and earned a little money too!) The next year was Mike Chapuron's first year as the ED and he was an amazing leader and persuasive! Year after year, I just kept doing it and became better and better at it. Don't think for one minute that I did it alone, though. I had amazing, dedicated committee members who worked their butts off to make these auctions successful.
Since you are a wellness specialist, what’s in your playlist during workouts?
This is a great question! I only listen to music when I'm on the treadmill or elliptical - so I usually need a lot of motivation to keep going. My playlist has songs from Beastie Boys, Eminem, LMFO, Mumford and Sons, Shakira, and I usually finish up with Stevie Nicks.
What makes you really happy?
Well, here is a short list of the things that make me really happy:
Making the first footprints in the snow after a heavy snow fall, summertime baseball games, long bike rides to new coffee shops, deep conversations about God and God at work in our lives. Seeing people do something they didn't think they could do, and seeing how proud they feel, and flirting with bartenders. These are just a few of my favorite things.