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Imagine a room filled with the energy of 100 women and teens, the rhythmic pulse of the best dance party music ever and the powerful connection that happens when people come together to support an important cause. This happened at the Zumba Fundraising Jam Sunday February 26th at the Pacific Athletic Club, it was a party that rocked the house! Continue reading below…
“Dozens and dozens of people showed up, attendees were excited and generous, everyone’s spirits really made the event a success”, according to Jaclyn Calkins a junior at High Tech High School. The event beneficiary, the Spirit of Leadership program provides year-round events for middle and high school girls. Teens come together from all corners of San Diego for training and development as they become strong leaders in their own lives and communities. A first time event for the organization it was a great success, “I have never done Zumba with so many people, let alone so many women! There was this sense of power, motivation and excitement that I felt being part of the 100+ women that were doing Zumba to support the Spirit of Leadership program” reports program alumni and event volunteer Tali Rappaport
“The ninety-minute session supported the Jenna Druck Center, a charity that serves both grieving families and young women. The Center started after Ken Druck’s daughter was killed in a fatal bus accident in India. While grieving Ken created two programs in honor of his daughter” says 8th grade San Diego Cooperative Charter school student Kiley Nash. “Much like the programs at the Jenna Druck Center, the Zumba class taught us not to judge ourselves, and to have a fun healthy life. Overall it was a great experience, one of my favorites! I think we all have to give a big thank you to the Pacific Athletic Club”, Kiley reported. “It was certainly the most exciting 3 hours of any Sunday ever! The gym was magnificent. Although it was far from home, it was exciting seeing new places and meeting new people. The faces were friendly and the dancing was so much fun. I’ve never sweated so much and had fun doing it. I liked how the ages varied. I can’t tell you exactly how old the oldest was or how young the youngest, this was not a problem, we all enjoyed the experience and we all tried our very best while performing in the Zumba dances. I had so much fun!” according to Sophomore Yaritza Villa who attends Mira Mesa High School.
Event Coordinator Shirl Jones teaches Zumba at the Pacific Athletic Club and has volunteered many times as an instructor and mentor at the young women’s Spirit of Leadership events. Her energy, flare and positive outlook makes her a favorite among the teen girl participants. Shirl was the catalyst for this successful event, she pulled together an incredible team: she engaged the Zumba PAC team who donated their talents, recruited an amazing group of volunteers, secured fun opportunity drawing gift donations and danced full-out throughout the event. “As I began to organize the Zumba Jam at the Pacific Sports Resort, I thought about all of those girls that I have taught Zumba dances to in the workshops and camps, all of the volunteers mentors and facilitators who come together and, the legacy of Jenna that continue on in our community. I work for a wonderful company, The Pacific Sports Resort and an amazing Director, Phil Sanchez. In the spirit of PAC, they were both very open to helping the community as well, I was grateful and inspired by their willingness to donate the space and staff for this event. I am reminded how blessed, honored, humbled and grateful I am to be part of a group who helps to change and better people’s lives”. At JDC we model to our youth that it takes many people coming together to make great things happen – and that is exactly what happened at the event.
Asked about why she volunteers and supports JDC Shirl shares, “When I first thought about volunteering I mostly focused on the girls and how I could help to support them. After my initial session, I discovered that working with and being a part of a team of women who share the same goal of changing these girls lives made me look introspectively. Helping them made ME want to be more, to strive for more, to feel more, love myself, forgive myself and appreciate myself more. To just be okay with myself in this fast paced results driven world. The energy of the Spirit of Leadership community is contagious! The work we do with these girls is fulfilling and soulful. Because of this, I want to do whatever I can to make this program successful.” Shirl’s experience reflects the program’s goal of providing an empowering space for women and teen girls to learn from and with each other. Spirit of Leadership consistently brings together incredible teams amazing women and community members who model to our youth collaboration and mutual support.
Volunteerism, collaboration and the spirit of paying it forward are all woven into the work of the Jenna Druck Center. Having a community partner like the Pacific Athletic Club whose core values align with ours is instrumental in creating community events that bring to life these intentions and opens the space for the Spirit of Leadership teens and community to see first hand what happens when we come together in celebration of the good that can happen in this lifetime. In the words of our teen event team, “I am an alumni of the Spirit of Leadership program, after participating in their annual conferences and workshops for three years of my high school career. I now feel like I have come full circle, as I have been able to give back to the organization by volunteering at their events and even performing at one of the middle school conference” shares Tali Rappaport now a college Sophomore. Jaclyn Calkins continues, “I contacted Program Director Leanne Tibiatowski to volunteer at this event because after attending a Spirit of Leadership camp this past summer, I knew that the Jenna Druck Center was a place worth supporting. At the camp I went to, I was able to open up about my personal problems and feelings in a safe environment. I saw the other girls who attended transform during their time there. We learned our strengths through group exercises and life-changing conversations. Several girls had never opened up about their true fears before, and cried when they finally admitted their problems to themselves and others. In the end, I knew that every girl was fighting their own personal battles, and realized that once women learn their strengths and support each other, they can accomplish anything they want to. This camp gave me a lot more confidence, and an ability to truly empathize with others. I know what I learned in just that week at the Jenna Druck Center will stay with me for life, and that’s why supporting this organization and all that they do is important to me.”
The Jenna Druck Center’s programs come to life only with the support of the community. To learn more and to get involved with the Jenna Druck Center visit jennadruckcenter.org or call Program Director Leanne Tibiatowski at 619.294.8000.
Leanne Tibiatowski is a community leader and activist who strives to help the world become a better place. She is a passionate youth advocate dedicated to supporting and empowering young women to step into leadership in their own lives and communities. She is also committed to providing safe spaces for people to come together for healing and transformation particularly for those in the community who have lost a loved one to a death who are seeking support on their journey through grief. She serves as Program Director for the Jenna Druck Center overseeing their Families Helping Families and Spirit of Leadership programs. Leanne can be contacted through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Jenna Druck Center 619.294.8000.