From Drizzle to Delight – JEP Alumni Shower the JEP House with Love on a Rainy Day of SCervice

JEP House in the rain
Rain was pouring down the JEP House as the first Alumni Volunteers arrived

by Kathrin Rising

On a cloudy and rainy Saturday morning in March, the JEP House welcomed a remarkable turnout of over 50 alumni who were eager to contribute to the organization that had left an lasting mark on their lives. The event’s agenda focused on two crucial activities: inventory and organization of materials stored in the attic, particularly those used for JEP’s STEM Education Programs, and the creation of book and learning kits for children attending the LA Times Festival of Books, featuring JEP’s ReadersPlus program.

The event commenced with an uplifting speech by JEP Executive Director Susan Harris, expressing heartfelt gratitude for the alumni’s dedication to the cause. Over breakfast snacks, she emphasized the profound impact JEP has had on generations of students, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond their college years. The atmosphere buzzed with nostalgia and excitement as alumni reminisced about their time at JEP, sharing stories and forging new connections.

Greeting Card saying "no rain no flowers"
One of the cards that our volunteers turned into letters of encouragement for our young learners.

Once divided into two groups, the alumni embarked on their mission. One group delved into assembling the book and learning kits, ensuring that each child would receive a tote bag filled with books, useful tools, and encouragement. Notably, the alumni went the extra mile by including handwritten cards with empowering messages. One card featured the words, “No rain, no flowers,” perfectly capturing the spirit of the day—a testament to the unwavering dedication of the JEP community, even in challenging weather conditions.

Meanwhile, the second group enthusiastically tackled the attic’s inventory and organization. With sleeves rolled up and determination in their eyes, they sifted through a treasure trove of materials, including modified dolls designed to represent different disabilities, a skeletal model, stuffed animals used for educational surgery lessons, and a plethora of lesson plans from years past. The alumni showed a shared commitment to sustainability, evaluating which items could be reused, repurposed, or donated to continue benefiting future JEP programs.

Graduate Student Maya posing with Skeleton
Graduate STEM Fellow Maya Yanez posing with her newfound skeleton friend.

The event, which was sponsored by the USC Dornsife Alumni office, offered a unique opportunity for alumni and current student staff to collaborate, fostering a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Together, they optimized the assembly line of the book kits, ensuring efficiency without sacrificing the joy that radiated throughout the JEP House. Friendships were forged, and memories were made as the alumni exchanged tips and techniques, all while reminiscing about their own transformative experiences with JEP.

The day also saw the introduction of a new generation to the JEP legacy. Alumni like Megan Palisoc seized the opportunity to bring their young mentees, now attending USC, to experience the program that had played such a significant role in their own lives. Palisoc shared her hopes, stating, “I would love for him to volunteer or work with JEP. I know it did so many amazing things for me, so I thought I would bring him along.” Others, too, brought their children or friends, fostering a sense of intergenerational connection and passing down the JEP tradition.

Meg and her mentee posing for a photo
Meg Palisoc and her mentee volunteering together.

The outpouring of support and love from alumni, some of whom had not set foot in the JEP House for decades, spoke volumes about the lasting impact of the program. The rainy day served as a fitting backdrop for the event, symbolizing the resilience and determination of the JEP community. Despite the weather, the spirit of service and dedication prevailed, bringing joy and fulfillment to everyone involved. As alumni and current students worked side by side, the impact of JEP’s mission became evident—inspiring future leaders, fostering a passion for social justice, and cultivating a strong sense of community.

As the event drew to a close, smiles adorned the faces of the alumni, their hearts filled with pride and satisfaction. They departed, carrying with them the memories of a rainy day that brought sunshine to their souls. The JEP House stood as a symbol of the timeless connection forged between JEP and its alumni—an unbreakable bond that spans generations and embodies the spirit of social change.

To read more articles that were featured in the Spring 2023 Edition of “What’s new at the JEP House?” please click here: What’s new at the JEP House? – 2023 Spring Edition