GO GIVERS: Jane Rogers
Jane Rogers, 50, retired from her militarycareer in human resources in 2007 and wasn’t at all sure about the next step inher life – until she went onto the internet to research volunteer opportunitiesin Jacksonville. HandsOn Jacksonville popped up and Rogers recalls her delightat the one-stop smorgasbord of volunteer positions that appeared alphabeticallyby agency.
“There were so many agencies in need ofvolunteers I couldn’t believe it. I made full use of that website, goingcarefully over all the entries whenever I had free time. You can find out whatthe nonprofit does, who they serve and what volunteer jobs are available. Italso explains what each job involves and any other requirements, so before youeven contact them you have a pretty good idea if you’d like to try thatvolunteer position. I learned a lot about what charities, service organizationsand nonprofits we have in Jacksonville,” she said.
Onlyknowing that she wanted to be productive and maintain a regular volunteerschedule, so Rogers explored the opportunities until she clicked on DLC(Developmental Learning Center) Nurse & Learn, Inc. DLC is a specialeducation school and daycare dedicated to caring for and teaching special needschildren, ages birth to 22, in a loving, Christian atmosphere. A ministry ofthe Northeast Florida district of The United Methodist Church, the center islocated inside of Murray Hill United Methodist Church.
“AllI remember of finding DLC was how I felt when I saw the beautiful photographsof the precious children they help. I just melted. I contacted DLC, set up aninterview and took the tour,” she said. “After I passed the required backgroundcheck, I began helping with the infants and toddlers, basically just holding,feeding and loving them. I always try to be there at the busiest times,especially meals. The children come in all shapes and sizes with variousneeds.”
Twodays each week, 40 hours a month, Rogers can be found with the kids at DLC. Shesaid that she loves each one and takes pride in helping them and cheering ontheir progress. As they grow, develop and are able to leave for school and thenext steps in their education, Rogers feels torn.
“Iknow I’m making a difference in their lives. After I care for them for a coupleof months, when I walk in they will call ‘Miss Jane’, ‘Miss Jane’ and dropwhatever they’re doing and run to me to see who gets picked up first. I getgoose bumps just thinking about how they recognize and reach for me. If I takea week or two off I can’t wait to get back to see them,” she said. “I’m soproud of their achievements from small to large. It’s impossible not to becomeattached. That bond is what keeps me going back. It is very hard to see themleave the center, so I just give them all the love and attention I can while Ihave them. It’s the most rewarding thing I do.”
Janeand her husband David, a retired military meteorologist now working ongovernment contracts for aviation clients, moved to Jacksonville for careerreasons. The couple has lived, worked and traveled extensively in the U.S. andoverseas and enjoys planning major trips every year. Besides long walks andgood books, they have found that volunteer work can be as rewarding as a paidposition and the combination has enriched their personal lives, travel andhobbies even more.
Davidis an avid motorcyclist who began riding when he was just 14-years-old —probablywhy Jane has a world of patience for his five motorcycles and 14 dirt bikes. Heis an active member of the BMW Motorcycle Club of Northeast Florida, repairshis own bikes and enjoys local and regional road trips, or cross-country tripsto destinations like Mexico.
“Ijust try not to think about how risky it actually is. He always is dressed inthe full safety gear and helmet and is such a careful and experiencedmotorcyclist. Of course traveling on a motorcycle makes the rider simply morevulnerable in any accident, but he absolutely loves it,” she said.
Janeplans to continue her volunteer work as long as she can and urges others totake the time to find the perfect agency to help.
“Idon’t think most nonprofits have enough help, and it adds so much to life. Ireally enjoy working with the children and believe I am contributing. Anyonecan make a difference to someone in need, no matter what your age, backgroundor skills may be,” she said. “I realize that not everyone can handle workingwith special needs children, but there are so many different ways to help inthe community.”