Framing the Future:
Growing up, Junette’s biggest influence was always her mother, Paulette. She watched how hard her mom worked for everything they had: first as a fieldworker in Immokalee, then waking up at four in the morning to take the long walk to the bus stop, riding over an hour to work in Naples every day, and even building their Habitat home.
“I can honestly say that, after God, my mom’s main focus is her kids,” Junette says, “That’s one of the main factors of why we are where we are now. Her drive led to me seeing that work ethic and got me to where I am today.”
Where Junette is today is quite impressive. She has her associate’s degree and EMT license, and she’s currently working on a bachelor’s degree in social work—all while enlisted in the Army National Guard. She also makes service to others a priority, through her involvement at church and particularly with kids and teens—both at church and as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club. It’s clear that her faith has inspired her to serve others.
“My big dream for the future is to leave footprints. To leave a service legacy. Everything that I’m doing is for the greater purpose of allowing God’s love to flow through me so that God can use me as a vessel to touch his people.
In fact, it’s that service spirit that brought her to the Army National Guard. As she watched the earthquake and its aftermath unfold in Haiti, she saw all of the people and organizations coming together to offer relief and decided that was what she wanted to do.“I’ve always wanted to do something heroic. I want to bring hope, health, and healing to people in natural disasters. I want to be the person that someone can lean on.” Junette says she’s the first in her family to join the military, but she can’t imagine herself not doing it. The camaraderie and service-oriented nature of the National Guard really appealed to her, and she’s happy to be serving alongside people that share her mindset.
Her time in the National Guard has also given her a path to the future. She was inspired by her chaplain’s work with all levels of servicemembers to provide support and a faith base and realized that she wants to be that person for others. When she completes her bachelor’s degree, she plans to get a master’s degree in social work and divinity so she can combine her two passions. She says she wants to get the best of both worlds by becoming both a chaplain in the military and a child-life specialist as a civilian.
At the end of the day, Junette says her family’s partnership with Habitat has taught them lessons that they still remember today.
“I strongly believe that in order to have a good outcome, you have to have a strong foundation. Habitat didn’t just give my mom a house, they let her work for it so she knows the bigger value. That’s what Habitat taught all of us: how badly you want something will determine how much effort you put into it. I think that’s my main thing when working with kids—I’m going to be there to answer your questions and help you along the way. I’m not going to give you a fish, but I’m going to teach you how to fish, and that’s what Habitat does, they teach you to fish.”
The hand-up her family received through their partnership with Habitat Collier gave Junette the tools she needed to thrive. She’s proof that the stability of home can unlock so much hope for children and families in need in our community.