Community Helper continues by recognizing the work of Jen Bisterfeldt and her passion for working to help others.
Jen is the Director of SAM25, helping with operations while advocating for the youth and adult homeless. She’s also is the Program Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shawano, along with serving on the Friends of the Library Board.
Working in nonprofits has always been a passion of Bisterfeldt’s, who decided to make the transition after previously working in law.
“I actually started with Big Brothers Big Sisters first,” she said of working with nonprofits. “I was super excited to be able to help, just get involved in work that was for a good cause, help other people and help those in need.”
Bisterfeldt adds part of the reason she has such a passion for helping those in needs comes from her own experiences growing up.
“I enjoy working with youth. I was an at-risk youth myself, so I had a passion for that from the start,” she explained. “Then I had the opportunity to get involved with SAM25 as well. Again, just being in situations in my own life where situations weren’t always easy I had a chance to help other people there as well, so I was happy to do that too.”
For Big Brothers Big Sisters, part of Jen’s job is to match youth with mentors, which she says is one of the most enjoyable parts of her role.
“Providing a child with a positive influence and more positive activities in their life is really important for their overall growth. It means a lot because every child is worth it and also just providing an opportunity for a child to learn more about what it means to give back and set that example at an early age, it’s great. It’s really enjoyable, it’s fun, the kids are great, the mentors are great, we have a lot of fun.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters is always looking for new mentors, as Bisterfeldt believes mentoring can be as rewarding for them as much as the child.
“We have mentors of all different ages,” Bisterfeldt said. “We have some that are young before they start their own families and then we have some who are in their 60’s and 70’s who have already raised their families, so they get to kind of relive that experience again.”
In her time at SAM25-the emergency seasonal homeless shelter in Shawano-Bisterfeldt has helped oversee its growth and what the home has been able to offer for those in need.
“We served 75 people this last season,” she said of SAM25. “The season before it was 58, people so we served quite a few more people, that included 17 children. Then we are also growing in the fact that we started offering resource days in the off-season. Whatever it is that they need, we try to help them as much as we can.”
She also has additional goals for the shelter like opening a community clinic and having a resource center.
For the past year, Bisterfeldt has also donated her time serving for the Friends of the Library, saying books and learning are crucial for anyone to experience success in their life.
“We help to raise funds for the library primarily. Just reminding people that the library is something that’s really important to support. As with all the programs and nonprofits in the area, outreach is a really important part. We can’t do what we do without the support of the community.”
Ultimately, Jen has found that helping others is her passion and she strives to serve in any capacity that she can to help make Shawano a better community.
“I just really like to help people,” she stated. “I like to help people that need help. I like to advocate for people when others won’t, especially the homeless and youth. I think that’s why my passion lies with those two categories because it’s really important to help people where they’re at in a non-judgmental fashion and provide that support.”
Community Helper is presented by Pella Mutual Insurance.