At the heart of Girls on the Run St. Louis are our volunteers who make the program possible for more than 6,000 girls each year!
Jenna is a doer. She is a lieutenant in the police department, wife, mother, runner, GOTR coach, and committed community member. Jenna is very passionate about the GOTR mission and ensuring that all girls in her community have access to the program. Jenna has coached at three different schools in the Granite City School District, she is re-starting the GOTR program at another school this fall, she recruits fellow community members to coach at the schools in the district, and she organizes the Granite City city-wide GOTR/H&S Practice 5k each season. This past spring season Claire was fortunate enough to attend the Practice 5k which included more than 90 girls from five schools in Granite City.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Lieutenant with the Granite City Police Department and I have been with the department for 26 years. I am married with two sons whom are both in college. I love to stay active by running and biking. I also spend a lot of my time volunteering in my community. My biggest fear is boredom! I come from a family of small business owners in the Granite City area since the early 1940’s so I feel it is my duty to give back to the community that has taken such great care of my family and me!
How did you get involved with Girls on the Run St. Louis?
Since I have two sons, I had no idea what Girls on the Run was. A Girls on the Run team volunteered to work a water stop at our Police Department’s local 5k, I then learned more about the program, and fell in love with everything GOTR stood for. I volunteered as a Practice Partner Coach at a school in the Granite City School District (Maryville Elementary). The next year, Maryville needed a head coach and I jumped at the opportunity!
What is the most rewarding thing about volunteering with GOTR-STL?
Helping to build strong women!! I truly believe that showing young girls that it is ok to have feelings and giving them the tools to deal with those feelings appropriately are a life-changing lesson. Watching them use conflict resolution to deal with everyday life issues is amazing. It is also very rewarding to see my sons come out to the practice 5k and help at the finish line or at the water stop. GOTR has given me an outlet to volunteer and for my children to see how one person can make a big difference…Life lessons!
How has GOTR impacted your life?
I’ve learned as much from GOTR as I’ve taught. I find myself using the “I feel, when you, because, I would like for you to” in different situations. Believe it or not, it’s a great way to deal with conflicts in my profession! It’s incredible to walk in a room twice a week and be greeted by a group of young girls who are excited to see you. GOTR has reminded me of the challenges young women face everyday and it’s humbling to know that parents trust me to help equip their girls to face these challenges.
What is our favorite memory from your volunteer experience?
I once had a mom tell me that her daughter was having a hard time at home. She asked her dad if they could talk alone so she could tell him how she felt because she didn’t want to be mad at him. She told her dad that Coach Jenna told her that she could tell people how she was feeling without the other person getting mad and she proceeded to use the “I feel, when you, because, and I would like for you to” strategy. This still gives me chills to know that the girls are listening and using the GOTR lessons in their lives!
Why would you recommend that others get involved with GOTR-STL?
Get involved with GOTR because every girl needs these life lessons. Everyone needs guidance and you might be the difference to make these girls successful adults. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, be a part of the solution! Get involved because Girls on the Run is SO MUCH FUN!!
What are your hopes for the future of GOTR-STL as an organization?
Growth and awareness. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all girls in St. Louis and surrounding communities had access to this program? Those without the program don’t know what the program is truly about. Getting the word out that the program is fun and so much more than running laps around a track!