Volunteer Spotlight: "A Girl After My Own Heart": Jackie Nix and Her Little PAL

April 11, 2022

Volunteer Spotlight: "A Girl After My Own Heart": Jackie Nix and Her Little PAL

In honor of National Volunteer Month, we are highlighting some of our Big PALs of the PAL Program and the impact they have made in the lives of their Little PALs. The Big PALs provide guidance, support, and friendship, spending time with their Little PAL at least twice a month and developing a meaningful connection. Many Little PALs come from differing life circumstances and backgrounds, and benefit from an extra adult role model and friend in their lives. Today’s volunteer is Jackie Nix.

Jackie and Noa’s Story

Jackie and her Little PAL, six-year-old Noa (now seven), matched in January of 2021. For the first six months of their budding friendship, before they were able to meet in person during the summer, Jackie found ways to spend meaningful time with Noa over Zoom. Noa is a fan of STEM and is also “very artistic and creative” according to Jackie, so they spent their time playing virtual Pictionary, doing art lessons together, chatting, and finding other virtual ways to connect.

By the time they began to see each other in person around summertime of 2021, Jackie said she could already see a difference in how Noa acted around her.

"Noa’s mom reached out to the PAL Program because her other daughter, Noa’s sister Ellie, has Down’s Syndrome,” Jackie said. “Because her mom needs to spend a lot of time with Ellie, they wanted to make sure that Noa had somebody who was ‘hers,’ so to speak. Compared to when we first started talking, Noa is a lot more open and talkative, and more excited to tell me about her day and what’s going on in her life and in school. I think it’s helpful for her to have me as a special person for her.”

Jackie said that, recently, Noa invited her to come to her outdoor chorus concert. She said she thought this was special because “Noa herself actually invited me. I didn’t hear about it from her mom.” Over the last year, their friendship has gotten closer, and Noa has come to see Jackie as an important figure in her life.

Noa is a fan of both sushi and Boba tea, and sushi aficionado Jackie fondly calls Noa “a girl after my own heart.” Jackie takes the time to do things with Noa that she knows Noa enjoys, usually science or art related. They enjoy doing fun, kid-friendly science experiments together, making handmade decorations for Sukkot, and other activities.

Jackie’s Journey with JF&CS and PAL

Jackie has a connection with JF&CS that spans back to 2014, where she was the Young Adult Program Coordinator. As part of her job responsibilities, Jackie worked with the development team on events like Mitzvah Day, and even helped start the Tritt Leadership Program. She also helped the Former PAL Program leader at the time, Carly Sonenshine, with Havinagala planning. Jackie left JF&CS at the end of 2017 to pursue another career opportunity, but found herself missing JF&CS in recent years.

“I realized that I missed JF&CS and had some extra time on my hands,” Jackie explained. “I wanted to be involved in our community and always had a soft spot for PAL from my time at JF&CS. When I worked at JF&CS with the PAL Program, I was able to see the impact and hear the stories firsthand.”

“I grew up with a single mom,” Jackie continued. “I know that having PAL would have made a difference in my life, so I wanted to be the one to make a difference where I could.”

Interested in being a Big PAL, or know somebody who could benefit from having a Big PAL? Learn more about our PAL Program by clicking the button below.