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Travis Wiersma, My First Hero

It was 2008 when I created Jenny’s Heroes, offering everyday people up to $25,000 to spend to benefit their communities.

My first hero was Travis Wiersma.

Travis WiersmaTravis was a night janitor at Madison Area Technical College (MATC) in Wisconsin and he requested $25,000 to provide new training equipment for the nursing program. Today, Travis is battling cancer and I just want to share his story so the world can see what a special person this is and what a difference he made with his gift.

I chose Travis from over 2,000 applicants. In his application he wrote: “i clean at night and thier is one program at the school that could use some help with upgrads the nures program..all the stuff they use looks like from the 60&70.it would be a dream too see the staff teach the stundents with state of art stuff,this would help the stundents,by the time they pass the corse,they would be able to use state of art stuff.when the get into the real world..then next year there would be new stundents ready to learn..this would go on for ever”Β  His grammar wasn’t perfect but his idea was.

Travis bought the school $25,000 worth of new equipment!

  • ~ He was on the news and featured in the local paper.
  • ~ He was the guest of honor at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand re-opening.
  • ~ He got a standing ovation from over 150 faculty and staff at the school.
  • ~ He got a plaque installed in his honor.
  • ~ He was congratulated by the MATC’s Dean of Health, Dr. Sido.

Travis WiersmaOver 250 registered nurses and over 1,000 nursing assistants graduate every year from MATC and his gift will be in use for years to come, ultimately helping many thousands of healthcare workers as they head into the workforce. Travis’s proud mom, Sandy, who also worked at MATC, was there for the grand re-opening, taking this photo with her son.

Travis Wiersma

Travis said, “I was just shocked to be selected. I never thought I would be one of Jenny’s Heroes. It’s an awesome feeling. I know my dream will be helping many nursing students coming in and it will just keep revolving. It will be a gift that keeps on giving. As for me, this experience has changed my life.”

Travis’s grandmother was a nurse, his mother worked at MATC for 17 years, and his grandfather worked at the school for 35 years until his retirement, which makes his donation even more personal.

Bea SpyrosTravis’s grandmother, Bea Spyros.

~ TRAVIS PASSED AWAY ON MAY 26, 2020.Β  ~

To see more of Travis’s story, click here.

$50,000 in Grants

Congratulations to the volunteer firefighters at the Suisun Fire Protection District in Fairfield, California, one of five California Fire Departments to receive Jenny’s Heroes California grants today. The 40 volunteers at Suisun are receiving $25,000 to purchase new turnout gear. The other four departments will be getting new radios, self-contained breathing apparatuses, a portable water tank, and a radio repeater system with solar panels. It’s all about keeping them safe.

This is the first of my grants for the heroes who volunteer to serve their communities in my home state of California. To see more on these grants or to send them your love, click here.

Jenny’s Heroes California is Here

Jenny's Heroes CaliforniaI’m excited to share my second grant program for volunteer fire departments, this time in my home state of California. I’m offering $50,000 in grants to provide safety equipment for the small volunteer departments throughout the state.

Having seen my share of fires in California, some of them visible from my house, I’m always in awe of the bravery and commitment our firefighters make to save lives and property. This is my way to say thank you. For more on Jenny’s Heroes California, click here.

Geranium at Dusk

Jenny Jones BlogWhat happens at dusk that makes colors so vibrant? This is an un-retouched photo I took yesterday in the backyard right around 7:00 pm. I went out to check on the apple tree and make sure there would be enough apples for ALL the squirrels! 🐿

I saw the flower and ran back in to get my camera. It’s just a geranium in a hanging blue pot but in the magic lighting that happens at dusk, it looked pretty exotic toΒ me.

More Love for Volunteer Firefighters

Hey, who wants to put on 75 pounds of equipment and go into a house on fire? No? Well these people, and many others, actually volunteer to do it for the good of their community. That’s why I am driven to help.

I just revealed the six winners of my second series of grants to Ontario’s volunteer firefighters. Pictured above is the team from the Township of East Zorra-Tavistock who will receive a fire suppression kit. Five other departments will be receiving a radio repeater, vehicle stabilization kit, thermal imaging cameras, and AED, gas detectors, and tablets for fire trucks. It’s my first of three grant opportunities this year.

It’s a privilege to do my part to help keep these volunteers safe and to help them provide the best service to their communities. To see all the winners or to send them a message, just go to JennysHeroesCanada.com.

I Hate Squirrels

I know they have to eat but why my tangerines?!? And my apples? It’s not fair! I scared this little rodent and he dropped the tangerine but didn’t run. He stood over it, staring at me, daring me to take it away. “Go ahead,” he’s thinking. “Take it. There’s more where that came from. And oh… thanks for planting those easy-peel ones!”

So far the squirrels have devastated my apple, pomegranate, and peach trees, and the tangerines are next. Why can’t they develop a taste for weeds? Why can’t I learn to use a sling shot? Where are the coyotes when you need them? Oh, wait…Β  one showed up about 20 minutes later – in our backyard!!! Missed a nice lunch by 20 minutes.

$50,000 to Ontario Volunteer Firefighters

I am very excited to finally reveal the winners of my first Jenny’s Heroes πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ CANADA grants. It was supposed to be one grant of $25,000 but we got so many more applications than expected, that I doubled the amount to $50,000 this time. The extra $25,000 allowed us to spread the aid to several smaller fire departments as well. The applications were carefully reviewed by a qualified panel in Canada and by me as well, and each winner is listed below when you scroll down. Feel free to send them your congratulations and messages of support through the Comments link. Here we go!

Firefighter Winning Grant TBA Tuesday

The winner of the first Jenny’s Heroes πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Canada grant will be announced on Tuesday, October 9th. It’s taking a little longer due to the overwhelming response – over 100 applications! Each application has been reviewed by a qualified panel of 4 people in Canada and I also reviewed every single one. Between all of us, we have finally agreed on where the first grant should go. I can hardly wait to share the news! πŸ‘¨β€πŸš’ πŸš’

The Praying Mantis Incident

Praying MantisI found a praying mantis in my backyard last week and took some pictures, fascinated by its size and a head that turns 180 degrees, but it was still kind of pretty except for all those tiny razor blades on its front legs. But as big as it was, it moved slowly so I had no fear… not until the “incident.” After I took my pictures, I stayed in the backyard for an hour or so, then went inside and cooked dinner.

After dinner my husband went out with some friends and I drove to the mall. It was dark. As I was pulling in to a parking spot, I felt something on my left hand, grabbing my finger and biting or sticking me with something. I panicked because it was dark and I couldn’t see what it was. I shook my left hand but I still couldn’t see what it was. A spider? A scorpion? I jumped out of the car while it was still running and the interior light came on and I saw it… a praying mantis on my steering wheel. And it was huge! I didn’t know what to do.

I grabbed a kleenex from my purse but he looked bigger than the kleenex. I knew I had to act. I was trying to work up my nerve to grab him with the tissue when he suddenly dropped to the floor where there was no light. I ran around to get a flashlight out of my glove box, came back and shone the light but he was gone. But where?Β  Somewhere in my car. Even if I found him I wouldn’t know what to do. Maybe it was time to sell the car.

I called my husband and said I will not get back in the car so he came and let me drive his car home and he drove mine (my hero ❀️). Once in our garage with lots of light, he was unable to find the intruder. I cut some leaves off a shrub and placed them inside my car overnight hoping it would coax him out but the next morning he was still missing. Maybe he got out? Maybe he’s waiting for me to drive again so he can crawl on the back of my neck while I’m on the freeway. Click these pictures I found online to get a good look!

For the next couple of days we kept checking with flashlights and we never saw him. I was too scared to drive anywhere. By the third day we still didn’t see him but we did hear something… a scratching noise coming from inside the air conditioning vent right by the steering wheel. (It’s coming from inside the car!) The good news: We found him. The bad news: He can’t get out. He’s been there for days. Or maybe he CAN get out and is just resting. What if he crawls out while I’m driving? We took the car to three mechanics who said there’s nothing they can do without taking the whole dashboard apart so I should just let him die in there. I looked up how long a praying mantis can live without food – TWO WEEKS!

He must have hitched a ride on me when I was outside. But why didn’t he go after my salad? I spent ten minutes making a salad, and then ten minutes eating it. Where was he then? On my back? He must have been on me for two hours while I cooked and ate dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, and drove to the mall. I would like to go out today but it’s hot and I would need to run the air conditioning. What if he tries to get out while I’m driving and see I those bulging zombie eyes looking at me through the vent? I’d like to sell the car, with a praying mantis discount of course. Otherwise, to drive I need to arm myself… maybe drive with a fly swatter or an oven glove or a box of cats???