As Jennifer Lazo, Education and Volunteer Coordinator, moves on to new adventures, Adam and Beth (former Volunteer/Media and Communications Assistant and Academic Assistant respectively) tell you all about Jenn and the work she has done over the past two years.
Upon hearing Jennifer had decided it was time for her to leave HOOP, it felt for Adam like a massive moment as their individual HOOP journeys started about a week apart from each other. Who knew at that stage what the experience at HOOP would bring both of them. The well used phrase ‘end of an era’ springs to mind.
Adam remembers meeting Jenn properly for the first time when she was reviewing his second class for HOOP’s cheeky Monkeys. It was a nervous day for both and as naturally quiet, introverted people, conversation was probably few and far between. Luckily, things changed and it wasn’t long before Jenn’s cheekiness, positive spirit and dedication to the HOOP cause came to the fore and a long-lasting friendship ensued.
So, for those that haven’t volunteered with HOOP over the past two years, what can be said about Jennifer? As the Education and Volunteer Coordinator, it was Jenn’s job to look after everything school related. Jenn and her team were key in streamlining the curriculum within our school. There was also the introduction of a number of new classes including our first ever nursery: Caterpillar. Not only does this provide a safe space for the children, too young for Butterfly, to play but also allows those moms the opportunity to partake in their own workshops without the additional worry of looking after their toddlers for an hour.
But it was Jenn’s role as Volunteer Coordinator that she really came into her own. However, even then she was never just a Volunteer Coordinator. More like: carer, tour guide, teacher trainer, substitute teacher, behaviour enforcer (for children and volunteers…), headmistress, nurse, translator, mediator, estate agent, entertainer, 24-hour helpline and – always – a friend. Anyone who has met Jenn knows just how generous she is with her time, her support and her affection (and sometimes food, depending on how hungry she is). Her big welcoming smile and warm hug was there on offer every day for anyone who walked through the door of the HOOP office.
However, Jenn’s weakness was that she was never just a Volunteer Coordinator! During her time at HOOP, Jenn never stopped: she was a 24-hour carer, tour guide, translator, friend and fruit-eating machine. She has dedicated two years to going above and beyond for every volunteer who has taught at HOOP’s school and caring for the children who fill its classrooms. Everyone who has asked Jenn a question about cancha and had a reply about the lunch menu – or been chatting merrily to her as you walk to the combi stop only to turn and find she’s disappeared into a shop and you’ve been talking to yourself for 5 minutes – knows that being ‘Volunteer Coordinator Jenn’ is one heck of a juggling act.
For that reason it is fantastic to know that Jenn will now take time to focus that energy on herself, on her own journey. We have been lucky enough to travel with Jenn, laugh with her, cry with her and (not always by choice) share food with her. She is a dear friend; all of us who have come through HOOP’s doors agree she is a very special person. Knowing Jenn, she doesn’t realize the impact she has had with her kindness, her patience and her dedication; even with her terrible jokes. Let’s send her all the good vibes that she’s given us HOOPsters over the last couple of years and raise a glass to Jenn for being an awesome Volunteer Coordinator and more importantly, a friend to us all. We wish our beloved Jennita all the best as she sets off in search of new adventures and to spread more of that unique, joyful “Jenn-ness” around!
All words written by Beth Thomas and Adam Weston.