JWRP Sister Spotlight: Jenny Stevan
Jenny Stevan is a wife, mother, JWRP sister, and the Mexican president of Shalva, a center that provides services for hundreds of individuals in Israel with disabilities from infancy to adulthood. Having studied business, and worked as a teacher and a PR professional, Jenny is first and foremost a doer and a leader. Just four months after first visiting Shalva with the JWRP, Jenny planned a fundraising event for Shalva that attracted 600 attendees. We spoke to Jenny about leadership and giving back.
Why did you decide to travel to Israel with the JWRP?
Every single woman I met who had participated in a MOMentum Trip told me that it was the best trip she’d ever experienced. After returning from their trips, women glowed, and I saw them become more active in the community and make changes in their lives. I knew that the trip would add so much more to my life, too.
Tell us about your first visit to the Shalva Children’s Center.
Before visiting Shalva, I had never had much interaction with children or adults with disabilities. It’s hard to describe what I felt when I first visited Shalva. Most of all, I knew that I was someplace really unique. Instead of sitting down to listen to a Shalva staff member tell us about the center, I just started exploring the center — walking in and out of rooms and playing with the children. On the bus ride back, I began Googling Shalva, and read everything I could about it. It was then that I truly understood what I had been feeling. Shalva is like no other place in the world because of the professional and loving way it serves so many children and their families — providing after-school, weekend, and therapy programs at no cost to their families, while giving their family members the peace and support that they need.
How did you launch Shalva Mexico?
After I returned from my MOMentum Trip, I planned our first annual fundraising event in Mexico City, which featured Gilad Shalit and the Israeli singer, David Broza. Six hundred people attended, and it was there that we presented Shalva to the Jewish community. Since then, I have continued to support Shalva, encouraging community members to visit Shalva during their trips to Israel and developing a database of local supporters who I reach out to frequently. We are also launching a program, which enables young people to celebrate their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs at the Shalva Center in Israel. This was all made possible with tons of support from all of Shalva’s friends in Mexico, and the JWRP.
What advice would you give to other JWRP sisters who want to take on meaningful leadership roles in their communities?
It’s a mitzvah to help others, so find your talents and your passions, and use them to do good in the world. As Jewish women, it’s our responsibility to open our eyes and make a difference for others. Don’t think twice. Just do it.