Jenna has shoulder-length blond hair, a pixie face, and always seems to be smiling. When we met for her interview, she was preparing to go with her mother to a Vikings game in Minneapolis. Jenna is very close with her family – though her mother lives in Rochester and her father lives in Minneiska, she is able to see them both often. She has two sisters, Evon and Gretchen. Evon is a dentist living in Montana, and when Jenna visited her recently, they went swimming, hiking, and had a picnic lunch. It was a long drive, but Jenna thought it was worth it because she got to see her sister and 5 year old her niece, Olivia Grace. Jenna’s other sister, Gretchen, lives in Wabasha and has a 1 year old son named Reed. Reed and Olivia have the same birthday, four years apart.
Jenna currently lives in a home with five other women, sharing cooking and housework chores with them. She works at ORC, where she helps do laundry for businesses like Winona Health and Sauer Health Care. In order to get to work, she catches the bus at 7:05 each morning and home again when work ends at 3:30 in the afternoon. Though she’s not much of a morning person, the rest of the day she is happy and full of laughs. Her favorite part of the job is operating the folding machine and asks to have a turn on the machine as often as she can.
Her favorite style of cooking is Mexican; she likes Bon Jovi, BBQ pork sandwiches, angel food cake with strawberries, and her favorite color is purple (for the Vikings!). She played adaptive floor hockey when she was attending Winona Senior High School, loved her teachers, and had many friends. Jenna loves to exercise and each day she faithfully puts in at least 30 minutes on the exercise bike. She enjoys swimming at the YMCA, and she has a treadmill. She likes to dance and goes to dances anytime she can. Jenna loves taking her family’s chocolate lab, Night, on walks when she visits.
Jenna doesn’t shy away from public speaking. One of her favorite memories is of her sister’s wedding, and she proudly recalls giving a moving speech that made everyone cry. Thinking back on it, the memory still makes her giggle – her bubbly personality is nothing short of infectious.
Jenna is also an active member of HCO’s Grassroots Advocacy Task Force.
This spring, she traveled to the Minnesota State Capitol with fellow self-advocates, staff, and family members for ARRM Day at the Capitol. While there, she introduced local Senator, Jeremy Miller, at a rally in front of over 1,000 people. She has spoken to legislators in the past about the importance of disability services and continues to advocate for those HCO serves.