This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Jess DellaValla of Jackson. Jess is the Director of Project SUCCEED, a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Before and Afterschool Program in the Conway School District. She is a Consultant with DellaValla Group, which provides facilitation to groups, as well as guidance, goal-setting, and problem-solving strategies to clients on issues related to work, community, and education. She is also the Co-President of Starting Point Services for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. And for the past eight years, Jess and her children have volunteered at The Merriman House, a nursing home community.
Jess is originally from Stony Brook, New York. She and her husband moved here ten years ago and have never looked back! She loves the small community feeling and the relationships that you can build in New Hampshire. Jess said, “The Mount Washington Valley is a place where you ski with your selectmen, shop with your school board members, and hike at the same place as your state representative.”
When Jess isn’t working or volunteering you can find her visiting the Pumpkin People in the Fall, Nordic skiing at Jackson XC or Alpine Skiing at Black Mountain or Bretton Woods in the winter, hitting Jackson Falls for a walk, or to splash about in the summer – and just walking the Jackson loop any time of year. Jess said she enjoys bringing friends from out of town up Mount Washington!
Jess is very passionate about her work with Starting Point: Services for Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence. She has been volunteering on their board for the past four years. The mission of Starting Point is to ensure quality services are provided to victims of relationship violence and sexual abuse, preventing future relationship violence, promoting social change, and encouraging accountability and education for perpetrators and stalkers.
Starting Point needs volunteers! Their volunteer program offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities in child, court, hospital, and personal advocacy and crisis-line work as well as outreach and development work. If you’re interested in volunteering, call Executive Director, Deb Weinstein, at 603-447-2494.
Another group that Jess is passionate about is Project SUCCEED. The mission of Project SUCCEED is to help give youth the skills and opportunities they need to be successful academically, socially, and emotionally in a safe and supervised environment.
Five facts about Project SUCCEED:
- The Nellie Mae Education Foundation and The Governor’s Council of New Hampshire recognize Project SUCCEED as a Stand-out Model Program.
- They are the oldest 21st CCLC program in the state of NH.
- They never turn away a student for the inability to pay.
- In an average year, they serve over three hundred students and employ over sixty-five part-time staff.
- They offer enrichment on everything – from skateboarding to mousetrap car building to crockpot cooking.
They are currently looking for volunteers and new staff to work in-person with students. If you would like more information, to donate, or to apply you can reach Jess at 603-901-2029.
Jess’s advice for young professionals:
Know Yourself. Which organizations you would like to work with, why are you volunteering, and, what are you willing to give? Pick up the phone! Call people who are serving a cause that interests you. People are busy, yes, but we all volunteer because we want to connect with others. Set expectations early. Once you know what you’d like to do and with whom, make sure you and the volunteer coordinator (whether it is just another volunteer or the Executive Director) both are clear on what it is that you are committing to for them. Feel free to start small so you can get to know the organization and team better. You can always add responsibility but it will likely feel bad if you promise more than you can handle and then feel you disappointed folks that are relying on you.”
“Education is the one thing that no one can take from you.”- B.B. King
There are so many wonderful people and agencies making a difference in our own backyards! We all can make a positive change in our communities – it starts with us! Until next time…