Well, if leading a positive life and dedicating your time to worthwhile causes keeps you young, Mary Jane is the perfect poster girl for this lifestyle. When I first met Mary Jane during the Canada-US Servas Conference, I thought she might be in her late 40s, early 50s. Once I got to know her on a more personal level I found out that she is 70! She didn't mind sharing her age, and her youthful energy and positive spirit captured me.
Mary Jane is a trained administrator and throughout her distinguished working career she has managed projects worth up to $16 million. She also has substantial experience as a grant writer which she has put to good use for various non-profit endeavours over the years. Her most important causes include peace and social justice which she supports in various ways.
"Faithful Fools" is a San Francisco street ministry for the homeless, and it is coordinated by members of the Unitarian and Catholic churches. The organization holds fundraisers and provides training to candidates for community ministry in how to work with local homeless individuals. It also offers a program called “witnessing", a concept used by the Quaker religion to acknowledge conscious concern. Individuals get to pratice being present with homeless people for either 2 days or a whole week to walk in their shoes to truly understand what it is like to not have a home. It is a purposeful empathy program, designed to make people understand what this group of people are going through on a daily basis. Her group also participates in memorial services that acknowledge the names of people who died in the street, who would otherwise have left this planet barely leaving a trace.
Throughout the years, Mary Jane has had a chance to dedicate herself to various causes. She has also been part of the Iraq War Awareness Initiative that allowed people to meditate and reflect on the Iraq War. Mary Jane has participated in a Quaker-organized event that shed light on the cost of the war in Iraq. This event featured a pair of army boots for each American soldier who has died in Iraq. In addition it showcased hundreds of women's and children's shoes that make the civilian loss of life in Iraq tangible.
In addition, Mary Jane has hosted hundreds of people as a Servas member and she will be sharing some of her interesting travel and hosting stories in the near future. One of the most significant initiatives she has been involved with included Holocaust victims that were staying with German families in order to make peace with history.
Mary Jane is a bridge builder and dedicates a great amount of her time volunteering to a variety of causes that are dear to her heart. In the near future she will be shedding more light on all her volunteer endeavours and hopefully divulge the secrets of her youthfulness.
Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions(http://www.travelandtransitions.com ). Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features. You will also find stories about life and the transitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.
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The article with photos is published at Travel and Transitions - Interviews