Jessica Yoder
Jessica Yoder

VAN WERT – For Jessica Yoder, the opportunity to serve as the program supervisor of the YWCA “after-school” program is the opportunity to live out a life-long dream.

Yoder, who graduated from Ball State University with an original goal of being a teacher, took one step further in her aspirations when she decided she wanted to work with children who are struggling with life’s circumstances in various ways.

“I decided that this was the way to give back to kids and get a little bit of fulfillment along the way,” said Yoder, a 1999 graduate of Parkway High School. “I wanted to work with kids who could be struggling. I wanted to give back and give them hope for tomorrow.

“My passion has always been kids,” continued Yoder. “I didn’t know that I was going to be so drawn to students with a rough background. I went to college initially to be a teacher. I started subbing in classrooms with students who were struggling.”

Yoder said that she is not as concerned about the way she feels in all of this as she is the student she is working with. She loves to ingrain in them how awesome and important they are.

“Kids can be so amazing when they catch on to something,” observed Yoder. “I love to see parents light up when they see their children making realizations. I don’t do what I do for myself.”

After Yoder graduated from Parkway, she obtained further education with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a Masters in Special Education.

“I like working with students with emotional disturbances, low socio-economic background and single parent backgrounds,” observed Yoder.

Yoder is also a single parent who is raising her 10-year-old son, Rowan.

“I am so drawn to children. I get a lot of hugs,” observed Yoder. “I love the challenge of the kids who don’t want to open up. Of course, it is my goal to get them to open up. It feels so good to make a day better for kids.”

At the YWCA, Yoder seeks to help the young people with nourishment for their body and mind. She notes that kids get a full meal as well as help with their homework.

“We want to help parents bring their children to becoming full functioning members of society,” said Yoder. “We like to help them develop their natural skills. There’s a lot that I try to incorporate in all of this.”

The after-school program is a school year continuation of the summer food program which offers free, nutritious meals and enrichment activities to local youth. The serving time is from 4 to 4:30 p.m.

Those with questions can call 419-238-6639 at the YWCA and ask for Yoder.