Staff Spotlight: Jessica Ahlering

Hope Solutions’ staff spotlight features our team members and the amazing work they do to contribute toward and fulfill our mission to heal the effects of poverty and homelessness by providing permanent housing solutions and vital support services.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What drew you to Hope Solutions?

JESSICA: As a former bilingual teacher, I have always liked working with children of all ages.  I firmly believe that I can learn every day from children and how they see the world. For me it was the mission of Hope Solutions that piqued my interest. And to be part of an organization that cares so much is very rewarding. No one who accomplished something significant did it alone, all successful people have others helping them and I want to do my part to make an impact in the families we serve.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What is your role and what do you like most about your position(s)?

JESSICA: As the Youth Enrichment Coordinator (YEC) at Lakeside Apartments, I love to see the progress in the kids from the beginning of the school year to the end. I like how they change their behaviors, how they learn from each of other, how they grow confident in their academics and how they start to dream about college and what they are going to be when they grow up.  I like the community that we create between the families, the kids, the volunteers, donors, case managers and our YEC team. This is a wonderful program! I feel inspired by the volunteers who are a vital part of it. Their commitment and love and support for the kids and their passion is paramount to their success.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: How has your role adapted to COVID-19 pandemic? 

JESSICA: When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we thought it would be just two more weeks of spring break. We then discovered that we are not going back to in-person activities until further notice.  It was a whole new experience for me to connect with the families and kids. I created a YouTube channel to keep in touch with them. I utilized this channel to create handmade face masks and we read books online. We talked with the volunteers all of whom were excited to provide their guidance online. It was new territory for all of us. We conducted a zoom training and started our virtual Homework Club to finish the school year. Inclusive of all sites for the first time, we developed programming for 4 weeks of online summer camps, and it was a total success! In August 2020, we learned that the school district would be 100% virtual for the school year. Once again, we came together to create an online Homework Club that included help with homework, social activities, online games and movie nights. Additionally, we supported 1st grade students 1-on-1 to improve their reading skills.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What do you do for self-care?

JESSICA: At the beginning of the pandemic, our home was blessed with a beautiful mini dachshund puppy. We take walks outside and watch Netflix shows together with my husband. I joined an online book club and most recently I have been experimenting with the color of my hair.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What brings you hope about your work and the mission of Hope Solutions?

JESSICA: One of the most beautiful things I can do in my work is to help others.  It gives me great joy and makes me hopeful to be a part of these families’ lives and to help them break the cycle of poverty by expanding their education. I give them the necessary tools to believe in themselves and help them understand that they can achieve everything they desire in their hearts. One day, they may create their own community where they help someone else just as they themselves were helped.