Whether its in her home town or thousands of miles away, Jen Blevins' desire to help others continues to grow strong.
The 1990 Wayzata High School graduate and East Middle School seventh-grade life science teacher is on leave from her teaching job to spend a couple of years in Haiti on a mission trip through ReachGlobal.
"I have been going on short-term mission trips with my church for many years. But 2007, on a mission trip to New Orleans to do crisis response work post Hurricane Katrina, was the first time I thought to myself, 'I could do this longer term. Is this what God is calling me to do?' So, when I got back home, I got more involved in serving at my church and in the community ... and I kept going on mission trips ... and that desire inside me kept growing," she said via e-mail from Haiti.
Blevins' local community has offered to help support her work through this year's Trojan Pride 5K Fun Run/Walk.
More than 150 people participated in Wayzata's annual Trojan Pride 5K at East Middle School on May 17.
The fifth-annual fundraiser raised money and accepted school supplies for students in both EMS and in Haiti.
Blevins, who has been teaching at EMS since 1997, said she hoped the 5K would help local students understand how their world is different from students in Haiti. Blevins said Haiti was recently determined to be the poorest country in the world.
"The average income in Haiti is less than $2 a day, and most students have to pay for school fees and uniforms, as well as supplies. Many students don't finish school until they are in their 20s because they have to take a break to earn more money to continue ... IF they finish at all," she said. "I hope that having students in Haiti as this year's Trojan Pride 5K 'charity' will help make the students at East a little more aware of what life is like for so many kids in the world ... and how blessed they truly are! I hope it will cause them to develop some empathy, to think outside of themselves, and to do more for others ... especially those who are less fortunate than they are."
Blevins said the goal in her work in Haiti is to help the community with what they need in a collaborative way.
"My primary job is to facilitate short-term teams that come down to serve for a week, 'pairing them up with' the needs of our Haitian partners. I also am striving to do some longer-term ministry with our partners, and I am interested in possibly starting up some Community Health Evangelism in the future," she said.
Blevins said the 5K is not only an opportunity for EMS students to feel a connection to students in a different part of the world, but also a way for them to get active and build relationships among students, staff, parents and the community.
Half the proceeds will go to EMS students and the other half will go toward Haiti students, according to Debbie Kimlinger, Wayzata East Middle school counselor. For EMS students, the money raised is allocated to meet basic needs such as winter coats, boots and emergencies.
In the past, the 5K has donated some of its proceeds to the following charities - Soles for Souls, ANSWER (an Autism group), the American Cancer Society and Partnership Resources, Inc.