We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Schnitzius and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what matters most to you?
This is a difficult question to answer as so many principles form our world views and shape our interactions with the world. However, upon further reflection, it seems clear that the principle that undergirds the others—and the one that led to my involvement with DASH Network—is love. When people use the word “love” in day-to-day conversation, they may mean one of many things: The definitions of love employed when I say that I love tacos versus when I say that I love my husband are two radically different meanings, and these are just two of many ways we use love in ordinary conversation. So, what do I mean when I say that love is the principle that matters most to me? The best explanation for the type of love I am referring to is found in the Gospel of John: Jesus explains, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This type of love is emblematic of self-sacrifice and humility; it is the type of love that Jesus exhibited in his life and death for us. This love is extremely difficult to manifest in daily life, as it requires you to put the good of another before yourself. It is a love that is unconditional, given to others without considering their ability to repay you or earn your service. However, this type of love is also extremely rewarding—it empowers you to take your eyes off yourself and your own situation and to focus instead on empowering and supporting those around you, enabling you to receive the same kind of love in return. When my husband and I were looking for a way to serve our community, it was the abundance of this type of love that led us to become involved with DASH Network. The DFW Asylum Seeker Housing (DASH) Network is an organization unlike any I have worked with in the past. DASH’s staff, volunteers, and residents form a family full of the type of love I am describing. When needs are shared in a group WhatsApp channel, they are quickly and abundantly met, regardless of who shares them. Since my time volunteering and, ultimately, working for DASH Network, I have never been so surrounded by love, prayer, and friendship. Working with DASH Network has taught me a lot about the kind of love Jesus describes. The asylum seekers DASH serves are from many different parts of the world, speak different languages, believe different things, and have no material resources to share with others. Loving and serving asylum seekers is an intentional choice to invest in a person totally different from yourself who is unable to repay you materially. However, in my experience serving in DASH Network, loving and serving asylum seekers is rich with rewards. It is full of opportunities to learn about other cultures, share about America, and be inspired by the perseverance and joy of people who have survived situations that are hard even to imagine. I would recommend serving with DASH to anyone, as it exposes you to a type of community that is hard to find these days—a community that truly acts as a family, bonded by the self-sacrificing love Jesus describes in John 15:13. It is not merely a chance to volunteer and support a vastly underserved community—it is an opportunity to join a group that is mutually beneficial to volunteers, residents, and staff alike. My experience with DASH Network has been rich in love—presenting me with opportunities both to give and to receive. If you would like any information about how to get involved with the work DASH is doing with asylum seekers in DFW, please reach out to me: email@example.com
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career journey has been far from orthodox—starting out as the kitchen manager at Steel City Pops while I finished graduate school, becoming involved in a nonprofit housing shelter for asylum seekers was far from on my radar! My long-term goal was and is to become a philosophy professor at a community college in North Texas (My master’s degree is in Philosophy rather than social work). I did receive my undergraduate degree from Southwestern Seminary—a B.A. in Humanities. My time at the seminary led to involvement in several ministries, whether as a participant or as a leader. Throughout my life, volunteering has been important to me, and these opportunities to serve with different ministries in college acted as stepping stones that led me straight to DASH Network. My journey with DASH started with volunteering; my husband and I became advocates for a family from Angola, becoming their friends and teaching them about American culture and life in Fort Worth. From there, we grew to become more involved with the ministry as our understanding of the need and our appreciation for the heart behind the organization grew. Eventually, we became a host home with DASH—housing a young woman from Zimbabwe. This experience has richly blessed our family and has been my favorite part of serving with DASH! When the opportunity came to get more involved with DASH as an employee, I could not help but say YES! The more I know about DASH and the more involved I get with the ministry, the more involved I want to become! I could not recommend involvement with DASH more strongly to anyone!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love spending time outside, and in the midst of a global pandemic, that is essentially the only option we have right now! So, I would hit up my favorite Trinity Park—Airfield Falls—to enjoy some waterfalls. Then, we could head over to Eagle Mountain Park for a scenic picnic and explore the trails! Finally, we could head to Magnolia Ave to walk around, enjoy a nice cup of coffee from Avoca and maybe even a cupcake from Stir Crazy! In non-pandemic times, I would be sure to wrap up our day with an evening of live jazz and drinks at Scat Jazz Lounge downtown.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a shoutout to Francis Chan’s book, Letters to the Church, for helping open my eyes to the type of love Jesus has for us and asks us to share with others. I’d also love to give a shoutout to DASH Network for connecting me with a community of people who live out this kind of love and helping me to see that it is more than a lofty ideal to strive toward–it is a lifestyle that real people have adopted that is extraordinarily rewarding and life-giving.
Headshot: Avery Earl Photography
Overhead shot of the asylum seeker sewing: Kim Leeson