I went to Honduras in September 2011 to return to the village that I lived in as a yearlong volunteer and check up (on) a few of our projects that we started. I spent most of my time at the Comedor Infantil Pasionista, which is the meal program we started for impoverished children and in Majada Verde, a small village in which we had a Women’s Health Promoter Project and recently finished a project that brought potable water to the community.
Jean Therese BaumgardnerAge: 24
Parish: St. Patrick Parish, Milwaukee
School and/or occupation: I went to Pius XI High School and Marquette University in Milwaukee. I graduated in 2009 with a degree in biomedical sciences and I just finished working at St. Vincent de Paul as the manager of their North and South Side Meal Programs.
What’s on your iPod? I like all kinds of music! If I had an iPod, I would have: U2, Ben Harper, Kanye West, The Civil Wars, Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Aventura, Prince Royce, Jack Johnson, Jeanna Salzar, Grace Weber, Blue Scholars, The Head and the Heart, and many more.
If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Initially, I would say Aaron Rodgers...but I probably would be too nervous to actually enjoy myself which leads me to think that it would be pretty awesome to dine with Mother Teresa because I admire not only the work that she did for the poor, but the impact her kindness and radical love had on the entire world.
Who has made the biggest impact upon you? My family, specifically my parents; and in a special way my youngest brother, Andy, who has a disability. My parents have taught me through words and example the importance of having a strong faith, believing in your dreams, and loving others despite their faults and failures. My brother Andy (has taught me) to see each person as a gift from God, to believe in miracles, to celebrate small beginnings and little accomplishments, to constantly laugh, to love freely, and to enjoy the simple things in life.
What does your normal weekend look like? Typically, I spend lots of time with family, my friends, and my fiancé, go for long runs, be outside. I love to dance. I like to try new recipes, and, on Sundays, I usually go to church in the morning and work in the afternoon.
Favorite Bible story/Scripture passage/ prayer: The Parable of the Loaves and Fishes and my favorite prayer is the Prayer of Oscar Romero (“It helps now and then to step back and take the long view...” one)
Favorite quote: I have two: “Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music,” George Carlin; and “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love,” Mother Teresa.
What was your confirmation name? Therese. I chose it after St. Therese the Little Flower because she did little acts of kindness with great love.
What do you enjoy most about going to Mass? I enjoy coming together with a community of people to strengthen our faith and receive God.
A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith: I was 7 years old when my youngest brother Andy was born. He spent the first two years of his life in the Intensive Care Unit and after that came home with a ventilator, feeding tube, a multitude of other medical needs, and 24-hour nursing care. The nurses would have him go off of his ventilator for a few seconds at a time and to distract him, I would make him laugh. The laughter not only distracted him from the effort of breathing on his own but strengthened his lungs. A few seconds soon turned into a minute, minutes turned into hours, and eventually he learned to breathe on his own. It took a lot of love, laughter and patience, but the challenge of helping my brother learn how to breathe taught me the power of faith and the importance of hope. This experience strengthened my faith and drew me closer to God.
Favorite pastime/hobby/activity: Triathlons, hiking, reading, biking, running, the Packers
Favorite meal; dessert: Coconut curry chicken; mint chocolate chip ice cream
What’s the most important thing you want to accomplish in life? Being the person that God envisioned me being, and living a life of love, service and happiness.
One thing that makes you unique: I am very easily amused and blush very easily. So, usually, I am either red with laughter or red with embarrassment.
How do you live your faith every day? I try to see the good in each day, each person and each situation. I think that goodness and love are contagious so I try to live a full, loving and fun life.
Any interesting plans for the future? I’m getting married June 2 and right away moving to Seattle, Wash., to go to the University of Seattle College of Nursing, for graduate school and become a nurse practitioner; classes start June 18. I have some friends there and I’m a little nervous but I’m also excited.
I want to be involved in international medicine and I want to go back to places like Honduras and work in undeserving areas. Basic health services are lacking in so many areas and if you’re not healthy that could be a problem, not just physically but financially also.