My role model: Jenna Aidikoff
By Nadia on November 28th, 2012
It’s National Role Models Month! We’re celebrating the people in our lives who make us want to be better people with a series dedicated to them, their positive attitudes, and their work.
Last week, I wrote about my literary role model, Elizabeth Bennett. There are so many (real) people I look up to in my life: friends, family, coworkers, authors…the list goes on. But one person stands out – my friend Jenna.
Jenna and I have been friends since we were two years old. Besides her loyalty, eternal optimism, and friendly demeanor, Jenna is one of the most giving people I know. Always wanting to give back to the community, she volunteered at Camp PALS, a week long sleep away camp for young adults with Down Syndrome, every summer during college. I had the opportunity to volunteer one summer as camp photographer – it was amazing! For each camper, there was one counselor and I’ve never seen a group of more dedicated individuals.
Jenna realized how emotional campers felt when they were too old to participate, so she decided to start a new nonprofit – Live Up Programs, a long weekend program for adults with Down Syndrome to build life skills. How many people can say they started a nonprofit?
Once again, I had the opportunity to join the fun as a photographer, and Jenna’s direction and leadership never ceased to amaze me. Managing 20 adults with special needs is no easy task, but whenever there was a problem, Jenna handled it with such grace and calm, ensuring that the program ran smoothly and all the participants had a fun and safe time.
Jenna started a nonprofit, which is a huge commitment. She wakes up ridiculously early to make calls from California to the east coast to plan and coordinate the program and manage all the logistics of starting and running a nonprofit. She gets more done before 10am than most people do all day! On top of this, she has a full time job! Her devotion and compassion make the program so successful by helping these adults learn life skills (like cooking and nutrition) while having fun. It’s really an amazing program and I’m so glad I got to be involved. I am proud to call her one of my closest friends and inspired by all she does to help others through Live Up.
Do you have friends who are role models?
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