While former SamariTeen Jessica Minard started as a volunteer because her mom worked for Samaritan and it was required by her high school Life Center Academy, she quickly realized that she was getting more out of the experience than simply school credit.
For four years, she participated in all types of SamariTeen activities, but Giving Thanks, Preserving Memories bubbled to the top of all those she enjoyed.
As part of SamariTeen’s Scholarship Program, Jessica Minard was awarded a $500 scholarship to help her start her educational career at Rowan College of Burlington County where she attended before transferring to Stockton. (From L to R: Sharon Wenner, volunteer recruiter and youth coordinator; Jessica Minard, former SamariTeen; Mary Ann Boccolini, Samaritan president and CEO, and Sally Cezo, director of volunteer services)
The goal of Giving Thanks, Preserving Memories is to provide prepared meals to patients, their families, and caregivers so that they can spend as much quality time together as possible during the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Helping patients and their families during the holidays was a huge blessing,” recalls Jessica. “I really enjoyed preparing the baskets, prepping the food, and making deliveries.”
She recalls one specific delivery during which the wife of a patient began crying happy tears, hugging each of them, and profusely thanking them. “This kind gesture meant so much to her, and the gratitude she showered on us meant so much to us,” shares Jessica.
Now, a senior at Stockton where she is studying Hospitality and Tourism Management, Jessica returned to Giving Thanks, Preserving Memories with her mom Traci Minard, a nurse liaison for Samaritan, to deliver meals to patients.
As Jessica fondly recalled memories from her time with SamariTeens, she provides this advice: “I would recommend Samaritan to any teen looking to volunteer. The Volunteer Recruiter and Youth Coordinator Sharon Wenner’s energy is contagious. She makes volunteering fun! She’s the best.”