Labor Endorsed Union Member
On the left: In July 2012, the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee sponsored a presentation to help people understand more about what our returning combat Veterans might be dealing with. My friend, Christie, with the dark hair standing next to me, was really the driving force behind this. On the right: I am with an amazing group of local volunteers who help with the monthly "Fare For All" at All Saints Lutheran Church. I enjoy helping my neighbors stretch their grocery dollars.
"Being engaged in my community is very important. Volunteering is just one of the ways that I give back to a community that gave me so much. I believe in paying it forward!"
Community Volunteer since the late 1990's:
As a mother of three son's, scouting was part of our family. Over the years that my boys were in scouts, I helped in many ways, cub scout den leader, assistant den leader, camp coordinator, camp "nurse" in the late 90’s and early 2000's. I remember pinewood derby's fondly and I survived a week at Tomahawk camp! Very fun!
I played soccer as a kid from early elementary age through high school. I love soccer and often coached, assistant coached or volunteered for three of my five children with CGAA/CGU during some of my children’s soccer playing years, in 1999, 2000, 2005, and most recently in 2015.
In early 2000's I started and lead a local Twin Cities chapter of a Nationwide non-profit group called ACES (Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, Inc.) to assist other custodial parents dealing with challenging child support cases. Through that volunteer work I was connected with the Minnesota Women's Consortium (MWC). I served on the MWC board of directors, as vice chair then chair, between 2005-2010. I worked hard as a volunteer family advocate at the Capitol on the issues of child protection, domestic violence, child support & child custody and more. Having dealt with some of these issues in my life, I felt it was important for me to be involved in improving these things for other women and children. I enjoyed meeting with Legislators to share my story and to work on issues related to women and children in poverty. MWC focused on equality and justice for women and girls.
In 2006, I was appointed to Cottage Grove's human services and human rights commission and served there until sworn in on the Council in 2009. I served as the chair during my term on this commission. As a member of this commission in 2007-08, I was appointed to serve on the City's 2020 comprehensive planning committee.
In Washington County, I served on two citizens advisory committees (CAC) as the district 4 appointed representative between 2009-2015. These two Committees are related to poverty, homelessness and community development. I reflect upon some of my own challenging life experiences to be a better advocate for others. The committees are called: The Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program CAC, and, the Community Development Block Grant CAC. I was the chair of the CDBG until my term expired at the end of 2015. Additionally, I worked with a very large community group that helped create the Washington County Heading Home Plan, which is the plan to end homelessness in Washington County. I also served for a few years on the boards of both Simpson Housing Services and the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. These groups all make life better for people dealing with housing insecurity.
I am a founding member of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) Network of Cottage Grove, which supports our local military families and service members and veterans. Being that both my parents were Marines when they met and married, my first husband was active duty Army for most of our marriage and now I have a son serving in the Army, supporting military families is important to me. I also had the vision to start having cottage Grove hold an annual Memorial Day Ceremony to gather together as a community to remember and pay our respects to our fallen armed forces service members. In 2016 we held our 3rd annual event and it gets better every year. I'm honored to be involved in making this event happen every year along with other members of the BTYR group, some City staff, Park High School AFJROTC, Park High School band and choir members and the local VFW/American Legion group.
Since 2011, I have served on the Stone Soup Thrift Shop Board of Directors. Stone Soup Thrift Shop is a non-profit in St. Paul Park that assists people with meeting some of their basic needs, by being able to purchase items they need at a very low cost or by receiving the items they need for free through our voucher program. I also am the coordinator for the Panera Bakery donation program with Stone Soup. At least once a week, my husband and daughter and I show up at Panera in Woodbury at the end of the day to transport the left over bakery items to Stone Soup. The items are given away the next day to people who come to Stone Soup. I also coordinate the volunteers on the other two days each week that Stone Soup is the recipient of the donations. It's rewarding to help hungry neighbors get these delicious bread items for free.
In 2011, I began to work with "Fare For All" (FFA) on the bringing a local site to the South Washington County area. FFA is a low cost grocery buying opportunity that is an outreach of the Food Group (formerly called the Emergency Foodshelf Network) a non-profit. I saw that many families, like mine, were having a hard time stretching their grocery buying dollars during this tough economic time. I pulled together some other community partners and teamed up with All Saints Lutheran Church to make this happen. Now, once a month, people can come buy their frozen meat and fresh produce at the service hosted at All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove.
If you want info on any of these non-profits or services, please contact me.
651-271-2287 call or text.
Paid for and prepared by Jen Peterson House Committee, Cottage Grove MN 55016