We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, how do you think about risk?
I am a first born. Rule follower. See things black or white, rarely gray. Risk has never been in my vocabulary until 3 years ago. I took a risk, and it changed my life. I ended my 20-year teaching career, trusting blind faith, that there was something bigger. Fast forward to May 2020 and what did I do? Start a nonprofit in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Helping women see they were much bigger than the titles they carried. Bigger than the abuse they thought was okay. I founded Hagar’s Heart, a nonprofit that strives to help domestic violence victims recognize they are seen, valued, and loved more than they ever could have imagined. Planting the seed of hope, one I See You Box at a time. Every month, we deliver I See You boxes, filled with more than just the basics-items of ways to begin taking care of self. We fill the boxes with affirming and encouraging notes, to let the women know, they are not alone and we support them. Taking a risk changed my life. It put me where I am today: helping those who need it most.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I remember a college professor saying, “You will change your career 7 times in your lifetime. Not positions, careers.” That always blew me away. I was going to be an educator forever. Teacher to coordinator. Coordinator to administrator. Administrator to teacher again. Teacher to curriculum coordinator. Curriculum Coordinator to Student Dean. I never expected to be where I am today: Nonprofit Founder. When I began my teaching career in 1998, I told myself: “When I stop learning, it’s time for me to leave.” In 2018, I felt a desire for something more. Education had become “just a ‘job.'” I began to re-evaluate what I was doing and if, after 20 years, there was something more for me. I now look back on my educational career, my committee positions, volunteer work, and see how EVERY EXPERIENCE was bringing me here: Founder of Hagar’s Heart. Becoming the founder of a nonprofit takes courage, trust, and faith. I had no idea what I was doing and sometimes still don’t! I jumped out of my comfort zone for a greater calling; one that I will never regret. I know every hardship, training, and career move prepared me for this.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A patio. Any patio in the DFW Metroplex that is opened! There’s something about the outside that just fuels my heart with gratitude. I have to say that Cane Rosso Arlington has a great patio and I can’t wait to use it more! Tipsy Oak and El Gabacho are great Arlington favorites too! We’d also definitely hit a Texas Rangers baseball game! Fort Worth’s Sundance Square is always a great place to visit, with Reata for dinner. We’d probably pop in to Jake’s Hamburgers too. I really like to support locals…reminds me of our family’s favorite place, 30A! If Bass Hall or Casa Manana had something playing, we’d be there! Heading over to Dallas, I’d head to the Perot, El Fenix, and Klyde Warren Park. The Rustic is a must do! Brunch is a must there!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To my Mom, Autumn, and Jill: My tribe who never gave up on me. To my second chance: Chadwick, thank you for teaching me how to love again and supporting me through it all.