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#THCTestimony: Jennifer Schock

June 27, 2022

When Jennifer Schock moved back to her long-time home of Hartsville in 2021, she identified three categories of service that she intended to become involved in. One of them was community. “So, I talked to Scottie, and here I am!”

Here she is indeed. In a matter of two months, Jennifer has become one of THC’s most regular volunteers. Every Monday evening, she shows up to the Center to lead “The Group:” a moniker that THC’s group home residents decided upon for what originated as a spirituality group. However, topics of conversation during “The Group” vary extensively and are largely directed by questions, concerns, and areas of interest expressed by The Group’s participants. “You’ve got to meet the kids where they are,” Jennifer says, adding, “I’ve had some epic fails, but I still show up.”

Showing up, she explains, is the most basic, yet most important piece of volunteerism–closely followed by patience, caring, respect, and acceptance. “To be a volunteer, you just need to show up & be who you are. You truly can’t have expectations,” she says.

By sharing the gift of presence–and patience–she’s been able to curate an environment that encourages THC’s teens to be vulnerable, curious, and thoughtful. “Each week, a little bit more of who they are comes out, thus giving me the information in order to hopefully help them,” she notes.

While serving as The Group’s facilitator, Jennifer has also had the opportunity to get to know one resident in particular more personally through a mentor-mentee relationship. Her first mentor outing with Simon consisted of lunch at Lawton Park followed by a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts for a milkshake. They spent the rest of their time at Kalmia Gardens, where they walked and talked. There’s nothing formal or fancy to it, but already she knows “this was a pairing meant to be.”

Jennifer describes her goal of volunteering at THC: “Since I have been on board as The Group facilitator, my greatest hope is that I can plant at least one seed, hopefully more, that these children will carry through with and it’ll grow in some way. It doesn’t have to be the spiritual (aspect), it can be ‘there are people out there that I can learn to trust that will not hurt me’.”

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