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Jenny Jones Ignites Chain Reaction of Love
By: Maryam Mimi Makabi
Former national talk show host Jenny Jones empowers individuals to make a lasting impact on their community. Her Jenny’s Heroes program awards grants of up to $25,000 to individuals who submit the best ideas for tangible, lasting community projects. To date, more than 45 grant recipients have been given $745,000 to purchase equipment, build playgrounds and computer labs, fund after-school programs, and provide security and lifesaving devices to communities across the country.
Jones takes a hands-on approach, reading each and every application the program receives, staying in touch with all her chosen Heroes and watching with tearful amazement as one simple act translates into a lasting and substantial contribution to society.
Look To The Stars writer, Delinda Lombardo, is honored to have spoken with Jenny about her inspiration and the unforeseen ripple effect caused by her love and generosity.
Q: Jenny, did you have any idea that the Jenny’s Heroes program was going to be so successful?
A: “I didn’t know what to expect! I know the Internet is so vast and there are so many people out there and I thought, ‘Is anybody even going to know this is here?’ and ‘What if I get no responses?’ But now I’m at the point where I can’t even keep count of how many applications I have, and I read them all. It’s really, really been great. At the beginning, I had back problems because I spent so many hours at the computer, and I still spend most of my life at the computer. It’s become my full time job and I couldn’t be happier.”
Q:Tell me about this incredible ripple effect you’ve created through your Heroes program.
A: “What’s happened, and I did not expect it although I’m thrilled it’s happened, is, because we get publicity for each of the Heroes - whether we get them in their local paper, or on their local news - is that a lot of people have been coming forward to volunteer. For example, we put in a security fence and camera at a domestic violence shelter not far from us in Riverside at the request of a female CHP Officer, who became a Hero. After her story ran in the paper, people began dropping off more clothes and someone even donated a truck. She also got the volunteers that she needed. This is part of a ripple effect. So it’s important to remember that even if you can’t give, you can certainly always, always donate your time because that’s always needed.”
Q: It must be incredibly rewarding.
A: “It is. And anybody that doesn’t have this in their nature, they really should try it because it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world to do something that makes such a difference. And it doesn’t have to be a lot. One of the most excited women I talked to won a grant for $3,000 to buy robes for the church choir. She was hysterical when I called her and laughing and crying, so it doesn’t take a lot.”
Q:You’ve described your involvement with your Foundation and Heroes as very hands-on.
A: “This is a case where I know where every single penny goes, not just every dollar, but every penny. I’m not giving anybody just a check. The Hero’s don’t get anything; they don’t get a check. The money goes to the store or to the supplier or if someone is installing stuff-we pay him or her directly. For instance, I have a great relationship with Best Buy and Home Depot among others. If a Hero is awarded a grant and they call me from Best Buy, I’ll give the store manager my credit card to pay for the items. I make the purchases to the point where I have to be by the phone almost all the time. I am 100% hands on - between reading the applications, personally updating the website and communicating with the Heroes.”
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