In her role as program coordinator for the Almost Home program in Appleton, Jessica Patenaude ’05 wears many hats: she helps families apply for the Habitat for Humanity program and assists existing Habitat families in retaining ownership of their homes. She’s passionate about creating happy endings for the people she works with.
Her quest to help families and the community also reaches into the halls of her alma mater, as she often calls upon Lawrence students to assist her in her mission by working as interns and volunteers.
“I believe that it is important for any student at Lawrence to get to know the community in which they live. Because the Almost Home program was formed by a partnership between the Greater Fox Cities Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, students are exposed to and engaged with individuals and families from many different walks of life. We work with human beings, and the nature of the work prepares students for being able to work with people who are very different from themselves.”
“Alumni are the windows to the
It’s a partnership that has blossomed over the years and recently resulted in the creation of the new Health and Home Safety Workshop. The workshop, a collaborative effort between the Lawrence Volunteer and Community Service Center, the Appleton YMCA, Appleton Fire Department and several other organizations, teaches families about disaster preparedness, provides healthful eating tips, coaches them on ways to save and invest money and promotes activities for healthful lifestyles.
“Josh Graber, the current Lawrence intern for Habitat, has been amazing,” said Patenaude. “Without his energy, organizational skills and willingness to try new things we would not have the Health and Home Safety Workshop. Volunteers from Lawrence help teach at the workshop and are crucial to the success of this event.”
Patenaude said she hopes the real-world experience gained by the Lawrence interns and volunteers will help open their minds and the doors to new opportunities.
“Alumni are the windows to the students’ futures,” Patenaude said. “It is a view of possibilities and unrealized paths. I chose to stay engaged because I had influences and mentors in the nonprofit world that inspired me to choose this career path. I find nonprofit work to be extremely rewarding, and hope my work inspires students to consider nonprofit work once they graduate.”