Foley, AL,
09
September
2016
|
03:00 PM
America/Chicago

State Farm Agent’s Daughter Honored through Peer Helper Program

Be the good…Show the way…Lend a hand

“Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. It can change everything.” says Matthew Stinson, Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation Peer Helper Alumni.

While vacationing with her husband in the fall of 1997, fourth-generation State Farm Agent Frances Holk-Jones experienced a parent’s worst nightmare. She received the call that her 16 year old, Jennifer, had committed suicide.

This left Frances and her husband, Neil, completely devastated and confused. Jennifer had recently started a new school and seemed to be happy and thriving.

Determined to turn their tragedy into something positive, they founded the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation (JCMF) in 1998.  The parents wanted to help other children in Jennifer’s honor.

They learned that often times when youth are experiencing issues in their lives, they are much more likely to talk to their peers rather than any adult. The Foundation started a program to equip local youth with the tools needed to handle these situations. This way, the peer helpers could help their friends through their times of need.

JCMF provides youth with the knowledge, resources and confidence needed to successfully navigate the pressures of day-to-day life. Through the implementation of the “Peer Helper Program,” they help youth on their journey from childhood to adulthood.

“Being a Peer Helper teaches you to deal with your own baggage and then to help others with grief counseling and listening” shared Matthew. “There are lots of reasons to become a peer helper. Everyone starts somewhere different, and everyone has a part where it changes them. It helps a person respect themselves and others.”

“It is very important to our family that Jennifer’s legacy be a positive one. We wanted to prevent others from having to go through such a tragedy.” Frances shared.

Peer Helpers are mentors, tutors, and advocates for their peers. They are trained to recognize when a fellow student has a problem – whether it be emotional, academic, or societal – and to listen and assist accordingly.

Sometimes, what an adult might consider a small struggle, can seem devastating to the adolescent, like moving to a new school or a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend. This is where the Peer Helper program is successful in making a tremendous difference. Peer Helpers attend extensive trainings led by certified Peer Program Coordinators.

“Our youth experience stressful issues just as adults do. The difference is, they tend to share their troubles with their peers rather than their parents,” Frances explained. “We wanted to help equip them with the life skills necessary to be able to handle them in a healthy manner and to lend a hand to others in need.”

“I am proud to say that since its’ inception, we now have this life-impacting program in every public elementary, middle, intermediate, and high school in Baldwin County – 47 total - as well as many of our private schools,” Frances continued.

Matthew says the program helped him because he was bullied when he changed elementary schools. He is so grateful for the program and Frances.

“Frances embodies the spirit of being a peer helper and what gave breath to JCMF. She believes in this more than anyone else. All the little things Frances makes happen is because she cares about the students,” Matthew shared.

The JCMF’s offices are in a renovated home where Frances’ dad grew up in Baldwin County. So the JCMF is truly a family affair. Each year JCMF hosts a conference for teachers from across the world, and they host a rodeo fundraiser.

The JCMF Motto is “Be the good…Show the way…Lend a Hand!” This is what all young people should strive to do and be. Could you be the next peer?

“Jennifer would be proud. She had such a kind, beautiful soul,” shared Frances.