My Middle Name Is “Underdog”

JenGrowing up as an only child, I was thrown into the social light at a very early age…so being an introvert was NOT an option.  In Kindergarten, I knew every neighbor in our large subdivision, their name, their pet’s name and any other pertinent information (like when they baked chocolate chip cookies).  When new kids moved in, I was first to ring their doorbell and ask them to play.  While I battled my own insecurities and internal demons, all everyone saw was a smiling little girl.  According to my mom, I had a really bad habit of being very generous with all of my things…from JFK half dollar coins to my brand new Weeble Wobble castle, if someone seemed to be more in need than I was, well then it was theirs. I was always rooting for the underdog, the have-nots and the loners.  It allowed me to feel like I was part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Now don’t get me wrong, my generosity left me wide open for attack from scammers and those with a serious deficit in the integrity department.  But, I always seemed to find those who were in need, and find out what I could do to make their life better.

As an adult I spent over two decades as a teaching professional with the LPGA; I was fulfilled by helping people improve their golf swings and enjoyment for the game that I so loved. I continued that passion into my next adventure for six years working with The First Tee to help kids prepare for the future using the life skills learned in the game of golf. This began my career in the non-profit sector advocating for causes that were near and dear to my heart; to stand up for the rights of those who had no voice, the underdogs.  So, last month when I had the opportunity become the Development Director for The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center, it was truly a match made in heaven.

You see, I myself was victim of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse; I was battered and bruised by people who pretended to care as they broke me while laughing. And sadly, I wasn’t able to heal the way I should have.  Consequently, I made bad decision after bad decision; the impacts of which left me in less than ideal situations.  But, thanks to amazing support and a second chance I have persevered through adversity and am able to stand stronger than ever before. Now, to be given the opportunity to stand with an organization who advocates for the rights of the youth is nothing short of a miracle. Growing the awareness of the plague of abuse and neglect of our innocent children is truly a cause that is not only therapeutic for my own life but a chance to show my abusers that I am stronger and bolder than I was as a victim. I have gone through my own metamorphosis over the years to become a survivor and look forward to being a small part of The Dragonfly House as we give children a chance to have hope for the future with a mission that is committed to healing and transformation.

My position within the agency is thankfully not in direct service (I don’t think my mental state could handle seeing the faces and souls of these broken children).  We have an amazing group of very well trained women who do that so well! My primary duties include marketing our mission and goals to the communities we serve, building relationships with individuals, small businesses and even large corporations and finally, securing funding for our programs and capital campaigns with individual donors, corporate sponsors, foundations, civic groups churches etc.  And yes, I get to put together the awesome event we host every year “Share the Love”!!  I think I am a closet event planner as I am having a blast ironing out all the details and can’t wait to blast it out to the community!

I also schedule speaking engagements to come out to your events to speak about The Dragonfly House and the impact we are making in the community; from Rotary clubs to Ruritans, lunch and learns and resource fairs, church sermons and Ladies’ Guilds, no event is too big or too small to come and share information about the impact we are having on this pandemic called child abuse and neglect. You see, without the incredible support of engaged citizens and companies in our community, well, we simply could not have the resources to do what we do—not on the scale we do!  This is a cause that EVERYONE should stand behind, with their time, talent or treasure…because our kids deserve it; they deserve the freedom to dream for the future, to sleep easily without fear, to genuinely smile and play and run and just be a kid without all of the junk that comes with abuse and neglect…and well, simply said, that’s what we do here at The Dragonfly House.

Without us, no one would be there to dry their tears, counsel them, help them heal and become whole again. So, I encourage you to reach out to me and we can do coffee, lunch or just sit and chat about how you can partner with us to help these kids learn to fly!

Jen Baldwin
Development Director

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