Those of you who’ve been volunteering or visiting the farm have probably noticed a bright new addition to our family. Thanks to a generous $10K grant from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation's Community Health Care Endowment Fund, we welcomed Jenny Hernandez, an experienced inclusion specialist, to our team. Jenny will help us develop training tools and supports for farmers with developmental disabilities and create opportunities in an inclusive workspace. As an inclusion coach and experienced facilitator, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team.
How do we create a meaningful work environment and foster relationships among people of varying abilities? Jenny’s interests and experience lie in developing access to participation, leading to these important questions: How do you make things fun? Can you break up tasks? Can you break environmental and social barriers to participation? How do you build upon each individual’s strengths and interests?
You will find Jenny on the farm every week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. During our busy and fun workday last month, she was already out in the community greeting everyone, working alongside our volunteers, and getting to know all participants. Her inviting smile and can-do attitude were winning over even the shiest farmers.
Jenny believes that serendipity brought her to the Common Roots Farm. She loves the ocean and she has always dreamed of working and living in Santa Cruz. She’s worked as a teacher and farmer, building skills and gaining experience that are perfect for Common Roots Farm. She’s lived in a Buddhist monastery for three years, and her meditation practice remains central to her. Recently, her work as a camp counselor made her realize how much she missed working with special needs families and how crucial this work can be.
The challenge of fitting in is not new to Jenny. She grew up with a father who was a quadriplegic, but who never let his disability limit his participation in his family and professional life. His motto was to “improvise and overcome,” and he taught Jenny how everyone could stay involved. Things just needed to be done differently!
Please welcome Jenny Hernandez to the farm. Like Jenny, we believe that anything is possible, and we’ll be working together to make it all happen.