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CHAPTER TWO BY: AMY KUERSCHNER

 

​HELLO MY NAME IS AMY AND I JOINED THE HERD EARLY ON.  FOREST, THE LEADER OF THE HERD IS A GREAT FRIEND.  WE MET WHILE WORKING ON THE SAME TEAM AT A LARGE CPG COMPANY.  HER HONEST, HARDWORKING, FUN APPROACH TO LIFE AND WORK MADE US FAST FRIENDS.  SHE HAS BEEN INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE OF PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL EVENTS IN MY LIFE OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS.  
 
I WORKED AT THE AFOREMENTIONED COMPANY FOR 20+ YEARS.  TWO YEARS INTO THE JOB I FOUND MYSELF DIVORCED AND RAISING TWO YOUNG CHILDREN AS A SINGLE MOM.  I ALSO HAD TWO PARENTS THAT LIVED CLOSE BUT WERE GETTING OLDER AND NEEDING MORE HELP.  I MADE THE CHOICE TO FOCUS ON RAISING MY CHILDREN IN THE NEENAH SCHOOL DISTRICT WHERE THEY WERE THRIVING AND INEVITABLY PREPARING THEM FOR COLLEGE.  I ALSO NEEDED TO STAY CLOSE TO HELP MY PARENTS SINCE MY SIBLINGS LIVED OUT OF STATE.  THIS MEANT TURNING DOWN CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AND RAPID ADVANCEMENT.  IN OTHER WORDS, FAMILY FIRST AND ME A DISTANT SECOND BUT I HAD A PLAN.  WHEN MY KIDS WERE BOTH IN COLLEGE, IT WAS GOING TO BE ABOUT ME.
 
BY THE END OF 2017 BOTH OF MY PARENTS HAD PASSED (92 AND 91 YEARS OLD) AND BOTH OF MY KIDS WERE IN COLLEGE.  I WAS STARTING MY JOB SEARCH WHEN AN EVEN BETTER OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED ITSELF.  THE COMPANY WAS OFFERING A VOLUNTARY SEVERANCE PACKAGE IN EARLY 2018.   IT IS NOT OFTEN A COMPANY GIVES YOU A BAG OF MONEY WHEN YOU QUIT SO I JUMPED AT THE BLESSING (NOT JUST AN OPPORTUNITY). I SOLD MY HOUSE, MY SUV, AND DONATED NEARLY ALL OF MY FURNITURE/BELONGINGS TO FOSTER CARE FAMILIES AND GOODWILL.  I WAS MOVING TO WARM WEATHER (50 YEARS OF WISCONSIN WINTERS WAS ENOUGH) AND I WAS GOING TO LOOK FOR A NEW JOB.  BEFORE ALL OF THAT, I NEEDED A LONG BREAK TO GET MYSELF RIGHT MIND, BODY AND SOUL. 
 
I READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING IN PUERTO RICO AND I KNEW THAT IS WHAT I NEEDED TO DO FOR AT LEAST 3 MONTHS.  I FOUND ALL HANDS AND HEARTS, APPLIED TO WORK IN YABUCOA AND WAS ACCEPTED.  MANY OF MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY LOVED THE IDEA BUT DIDN’T THINK I WOULD LAST THE ENTIRE TIME.  I DID HAVE ONE FORMER BOSS SAY “YOU WILL MAKE IT THE ENTIRE TIME” WITHOUT HESITATION.  I DID MAKE IT THE ENTIRE TIME BUT I HAD NO IDEA HOW LIFE CHANGING THE EXPERIENCE WOULD ACTUALLY PROVE TO BE. 
 
I LED TEAMS WITH VOLUNTEERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD FINISHING NUMEROUS HOMES INCLUDING 2 HEAD START SCHOOLS THROUGH SEALING ROOFS AND MOLD REMEDIATION. EVERYONE I WORKED WITH IN PUERTO RICO WENT OUT EVERY DAY AND WORKED THEIR ASS OFF IN EXTREME HEAT, DIRECT SUN, AND POURING RAIN. THEY CAME FROM EVERY WALK OF LIFE, PROFESSION, SPAN ALL AGES AND ARE SOME OF THE SMARTEST, KINDEST, GENEROUS PEOPLE I NOW CALL MY FRIENDS. THE PEOPLE OF PUERTO RICO ARE SO WELCOMING, HELPFUL, AND APPRECIATIVE FOR ALL THAT WE DID. THEY KEPT US SAFE, WELL FED, AND SHARED THEIR LIVES BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE HURRICANES.  
 
WHEN I FIRST SAW HOFZ’S MISSION IT SPOKE TO ME BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE AND BUT ALSO ALL THOSE I WORKED WITH IN PUERTO RICO.  “HOFZ - WE SEE STRIPES IN PLACE OF SCARS, EACH BEARING A UNIQUE STORY OF TRUE GRIT, ENDURANCE, AND PERSEVERANCE.” THE CORPORATE WORLD HAD WORN ME DOWN BUT THREE MONTHS WORKING IN PUERTO RICO HEALED AND INSPIRED ME.  HOPEFULLY MY EXPERIENCE CAN INSPIRE SOMEONE ELSE TO SEEK OUT THEIR NEXT CHAPTER.