[image source=”https://blufftonselfhelp.org/media/uploads/bobjan-250×200.jpg” alt=”” width=”250″ height=”200″ align=”right”]They met in Arizona in early 1964. She was an 18-year-old high school dropout; he was a 22-year old Air Force enlistee. She was looking for a way out of her dysfunctional alcoholic family. He was searching for stability. They married early in 1965, had their first son and moved from Arizona to his home state of New Jersey in 1967. She had no friends in New Jersey, no support system and from the very beginning, his family approached her with trepidation.
Five years later, after many relationship and parental trials, the marriage fell apart. She found herself a divorced, unemployed, uneducated single mother of two; abandoned, alone and on her own. She had no choice but to begin anew.
She stood in the lines for welfare assistance, food stamps and Medicare; all necessary to shelter and care for her children. They were what mattered most.
[pullquote_left]Thanks to a grant from the Hilton Head Island Endowment Fund, the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, Bluffton Self Help offers a scholarship program for persons like Jan, up to $1,000 per semester to qualified applicants. You must be a resident of Bluffton, officially admitted to a program and willing to report grades and be mentored. For more information contact BSH. [/pullquote_left]
Many nights, with the help of a neighbor, she attended evening classes, studied for and eventually earned her GED. Because of a few dedicated, caring and encouraging county and state workers, she applied for state and federal educational grants and was able to attend junior college. She achieved dean’s list recognition. But more importantly, for the very first time, she understood that contrary to what her family had led her to believe, she did in fact have the ability to change her life and the life of her children. This was an astonishing revelation!
Near the end of her second year of junior college she experienced overwhelming guilt. She was saddened at the realization that she had, for so long now, placed her own desires above the best interests of her children. She committed to leave college and seek a full time job. Her children had sacrificed long enough. She reasoned she would be able to return to college at any time; her children, on the other hand, would be children only once.
Her caseworkers, who encouraged and believed in her ability, tried endlessly to convince her to “hang in there” and complete her college degree. They were adamant. One welfare worker advised her that a part time position “working with children” had become available at a local state agency.
She went to the interview, was hired, and began work as a social service aide, in child protective service. She was soon moved into a full time position complete with health coverage, sick days, vacation pay and pension benefits. It was here she met her future husband, a case manager for the same agency. During her 25-year-tenure she completed her college degree in social work, bought her first car, her first home, met and married the wonderful man she is married to today.
This volunteer works every Wednesday at Bluffton Self Help along with her husband, Bob. They are two of our most valued volunteers and donors.
It’s Jan Fierick, our “Lili Tomlin” volunteer video star! The YouTube video is on our website at blufftonselfhelp.org. Bob is always available, with his truck, for food pickup. When Jan is not volunteering she expresses her amazingly, talented creative side by performing in plays and musicals in Sun City, where they live.
“Bob is a dependable shift leader on Wednesdays. He often recommends ways to assist the clients by offering nutritional alternatives, said Julie Del Guercio, assistant director at BSH. “Jan assists with financial assistance interviews and is a certified Benefit Bank counselor. Del Guercio went on to say, “They both treat our clients with sincere compassion and affectionate respect. Every Wednesday the staff looks forward to their wit and energy. We are so lucky to have them as part of our family.”
The Fiericks are also volunteers for the Child Evangelism Foundation. Child Evangelism Fellowship® is the world’s largest evangelistic outreach to children. Last year, CEF® reached over 10 million children in over 175 countries. Locally this group focuses on raising the self esteem and self worth of children at Pritchardville Elementary through an after school program.
[Thanks to a grant from the Hilton Head Island Endowment Fund, the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, Bluffton Self Help offers a scholarship program for persons like Jan, up to $1,000 per semester to qualified applicants. You must be a resident of Bluffton, officially admitted to a program and willing to report grades and be mentored. For more information contact BSH.]