LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Jody Swenson knows a thing or two about hardship.
"When I got divorced in 2000, it was my daughter and I. Our first year was a little bit rocky. I was making $7.50 an hour at the job that I had at that point so paying rent and take care of life was a little bit rocky," said Jody.
Besides being given the basic necessities from a local organization, when she was in need...she was given something else.
"One of the things that really got me that year is that someone hand made Barbie clothes and gave them to us for Christmas that year for my daughter. It just touched me so much that someone would take the time to sew these for someone they didn't even know," said Jody.
When she was back on her feet, Jody started volunteering because that's what she did with her mother when she was growing up. When her father retired he drove a school bus and started volunteering in his own way.
"One of his absolute favorite things to do was if he saw someone get on the bus who didn't have a proper raincoat or didn't have a winter coat or mittens,
he would go into the Salvation Army to purchase items for that family and very casually just send the bag with them when they got off the bus that night to make sure those kids had what they needed. I grew up with two parents who very much set an example of making sure your neighbors are covered," said Jody.
Jody set the same example for her daughter, Alex.
"She didn't have a babysitter or whatever so 'Hey come to this event and help out' and I have learned to love what she does more, so now that I know a lot more I'm also a part of the Builders Association doing volunteering as well," said Alex.
The La Crosse Area Builders Association has 200 members and according to Jody, almost half are active volunteers. The group sponsors families for the holidays and helps the homeless but they also give away $1,000 to area high school teachers in need of supplies for their class.
Alex and Jolene Goodman nominated Jody for the Jefferson Award.
"When I think of a volunteer that's the first person I think of. She makes other people want to jump in and get involved because that's just the type of person she is. Any time we need a helping hand. It's always Jody. She's always there with a smile on her face," said Alex Goodman.
Alex is also known for going the extra mile and doing more for those in need.
"I do some needs. Here's some basic stuff like paper towels, toilet paper...the not so fun stuff that adds up so quickly but then do some fun stuff too. Make sure there is some wants in there too," said Jody.
Jody believes there is no one size fits all when it comes to volunteering but any bit helps.
"Honestly, it's amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it for just one hour," said Jody.
To learn more about membership to the La Crosse Area Builders Association or to learn more about some of their events go to www.labaonline.com