It’s safe to say: Beverly Jansma is mission-oriented. Over the past 32 years, she has put together quite the résumé, including participation in mission work in 7 countries and sitting on the board of 4 international nonprofit organizations. For one organization alone, she has traveled to Haiti over 70 times. So it’s no surprise that when she learned about SowHope over 10 years ago at a SowHope fundraiser, she wanted to be involved. The following year, she volunteered at the event and didn’t know anyone. When SowHope President Mary Dailey Brown walked up to her and said, “Hi, I’m Mary Brown, and I don’t know you”, a conversation was struck up and the volunteering and support of SowHope began.
Beverly Jansma worked as a nurse for 25 years, including almost 20 years at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Now retired, she concludes that she is a “Care giver and fixer at heart”, staying active in serving others as she did in her profession. It was SowHope’s strategy and belief in locally-led projects that aligned with Bev’s personal beliefs. She states, “Early on in mission work, I felt that going in and doing
things for people was the right way. After a while, it became evident that imparting ‘our’ Western ideals, cultures, and medicine was not working… SowHope doesn’t go in and try to fix things or tell people how to do things for their people. They provide resources and create opportunities to become sustainable and profitable to help people lift themselves out of poverty and benefit the whole community.”
Volunteering is a way of life for Beverly. When asked what inspires her to keep volunteering, she responded, “Why not? There is no greater joy than knowing that a person has been lifted out of poverty through education that empowers, provides dignity, and moves a life forward.”
With SowHope, she regularly assists with mailings, helps out at events, and has even traveled with Mary abroad to South Sudan. “I enjoy volunteering at SowHope because of the camaraderie working with the staff and other volunteers, knowing that it works for the greater good and provides women with self-worth. Oh, and I enjoy talking with and traveling with Mary!”
Of SowHope’s three program areas, Beverly believes that education is the most crucial, but all 3 are intertwined. “One cannot survive with just education… education is needed to understand how to have wellness and care for oneself and community. Wellness is needed to have the energy to educate oneself and to maintain economic opportunities. Economic opportunities cannot survive if one does not have the education or maintain a life of wellness.” From her own knowledge and experience, seeing real world problems be solved, she has advice for the next generation of women: “Educate yourselves while keeping in mind your background and culture. Going into a culture and understanding customs and beliefs lead to a new way of educating people… education needed to start with and incorporate their own customs and resources available.”
Thank you for your wisdom, Beverly, and for your committed volunteer work for SowHope!