It's All Good. The series about Love-Mongers and Joy-Makers - a New Segment on this Exuberant Blog - A focus on those who make the world a happier and better place.
Sometimes it appears that those who do good works - who volunteer and help others - have special skills or more time than the rest of us. Ain’t so. Here I talk to definitely non-Bill Gatesy people who do good, help others and spread love.
If you think Valentine’s Day is a bummer for those who are alone, then you haven’t met Jen Kennedy. Her mission is to bring joy to those who don’t have a Valentine.
Jen Kennedy is the Chief Parental Badass at Chez Kennedy in Wilmington, MA. She married to a smarty pants fella named Wade and is the mom of the absolutely charming Maeve. She works full-time in healthcare and as an avid runner is the VP of her running club, Sole Sisters. Faster than Cupid, she spreads love at Valentine's by harnessing her network to bring cards to the lonely. The entire process brings joy to every participant.
Jen took time out of her love-spreading mission to tell us how she makes the world happier through her annual “Project Valentine”, now it its 4th year.
What was the inspiration for Project Valentine?
I wanted to do something simple and creative in my community for seniors, as they are often forgotten about.
How does it work?
I distribute blank cards to friends and family and in turn, they decorate, or get others to decorate the cards. Once completed the cards are bundled up and distributed to seniors in my community and surrounding towns. We have delivered to people in Wilmington, Tewksbury, Winchester, Woburn, Malden, Medford, Danvers, Lowell, Burlington, and several other towns.
What has been the reaction to the project from recipients and your helpers?
People love it! The energy around creating the cards is wild. The first year my goal was 350 cards and we doubled it. Heading into the 4th year, the projected number of valentines distributed to date is around 6,000.
A woman who received a card last year through Meals On Wheels called the senior center to say she hadn’t rec’d a valentine since her husband had passed away. It really is the little things sometimes!
How many people does it take to accomplish your Valentine’s goal?
Over 100 people volunteered to take and decorate cards. Often they enlisted the help of others (students, scouts, coworkers, etc) to help. The past couple of years I have had a stuffing party, where 10 or so friends come over and stuff the cards (each card has an insert explaining the project). Probably another 10 or so people to help deliver.
What is your favorite part of doing this?
The community spirit for sure. So many people involved.
Have you always been a big fan of Valentine’s Day?
Not especially. I guess it was a take it or leave it holiday for me … now it’s more special for sure
What is best Valentine you’ve ever received?
A bottle of rose oil from Wade! Loved that gift.
Is Valentines Day your favorite holiday now?
Sorry, but Halloween is still my favorite!
What is your favorite charity?
Girls On The Run – I ran as a charity runner for them in the 2014 Chicago marathon and recently signed on to run with them again this year at the NYC marathon in November.
How has the project grown and/or changed?
People remember it and ask me when we are stating back up. Also, the deliveries have spread to so many more communities.
What are you goals for it for next year?
Keep on spreading the love – more cards, more deliveries, more exposure!
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