For most people, a bed is a place where they sleep every night. For Jessica Stanfield, a bed is a symbol for why she actually gets out of bed every morning to tackle her job: overseeing the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of the 20th Judicial Circuit in Southwest Florida.
One of the programs at the foundation, a nonprofit that supports and advocates for abused, neglected, or abandoned youth in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties, is Beds for Kids. It does what its name says: provides a bed for a family that takes in a vulnerable child but lacks resources. Stanfield, named executive director of the foundation in late 2019, has been at many bed-drops, when a child sees he or she will have a bed, in some cases for the first time. The heart-tugging, tear-jerking moments inspire Stanfield to keep going.
While working from home, Jessica Stanfield has a colleague close by.
“The motivation is to help one more kid get one more bed,” Stanfield says. “I’m humbled by the fact that I can help children every day.”
A native of the central New York state region, Stanfield has been in nonprofits for about a decade. She worked for the National Museum of Dance in New York for a few years before being named development director for the Southwest Florida Symphony in 2018. At that job and in her current role, Stanfield has become involved in the Southwest Florida nonprofit scene. That includes a seat on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Collier-Lee chapter and working with the COVID-19 task force set up by Community Organizations Active in a Disaster.
Stanfield traces her career path back to growing up, where she was interested in social work and related fields. “I’ve always had this tug to help people,” she says, “especially kids.”
The pandemic, of course, has made the work more challenging, with needs going up and the ability to hold events to raise money to meet those needs being curtailed. “Fundraising has been tough,” she says. “I’ve lost a little sleep at night figuring out how we will do this, how we will do that.”
On the flip side, Stanfield stayed up late one recent night writing thank-you notes to each supporter, both new and returning, who donated to a recent campaign. Thanking those people, like the beds for kids, inspires Stanfield. “I’ve learned how to see the beauty in any situation,” she says, “even ones that don’t seem so beautiful.”
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