Being in the limelight isn’t a comfortable place for Jennifer Darnall. When the Glen Ellyn resident and community volunteer was nominated as the Glen Ellyn Patch 2012 Person of the Year, she was more than surprised.
Darnall was chosen as the Glen Ellyn Patch 2012 Person of the Year based on the number of votes and comments in support of her nomination. She was one of four people nominated in late December.
A resident of Glen Ellyn for 21 years, Darnall began volunteering with the Glen Ellyn Infant Welfare Society about 12 years ago. She expanded her community service to helping at her church, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, and is also on the boards of the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry (representing her church) and Bridge Communities. She also helps with the Glenbard West Boosters.
“I’ve been very blessed and you look at these people who have not, I’m not going to sit on my laurels,” Darnall said.
Her volunteering dates back to the days when she was in school and was a candy striper delivering flowers and mail to patients in the hospital, she said.
She said she had a good role model in her mother, who also volunteered her time.
Darnall worked in the financial planning industry and decided to retire when she became pregnant with her daughter Nicole. She wanted something to keep her busy because she doesn’t like being bored. She began volunteering and it has become a way of life. Each week, she attends meetings and spends hours helping out.
At one point, Darnall was on two boards based in Chicago, but the boards didn’t really do much, leaving the heavy lifting to employees. That wasn’t what she was looking for, she said.
“I’m not on a board to get my name on stationary,” she said.
She enjoys giving back her time and talents to benefit local groups that are doing good things, she said. And, she does it without expecting anything in return.
Being nominated and named person of the year was very surprising and humbling, she said.
“I just feel there are so many more people who do more things,” Darnall said. “I don’t do it [volunteer] to be recognized.”
Through her work with the Infant Welfare Society, she said she has met a lot of people and gained friends.
Her involvement with Bridge Communities began after she was approached by one of the organization’s founders who attends her church. The people who volunteer for Bridge Communities and work for the nonprofit have made giving back a great experience, she said.
When she first began volunteering at the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry and met with clients, she said it was very rewarding to see how she could help others, though she always wished she could do more. Over time, her role changed and now she helps shop for items the pantry needs.
She doesn’t mind being in the background, whether shopping for the food pantry or ordering flowers for her church. She is happy to just be able to give back.
She said the people she knows in Glen Ellyn are very generous and most of her friends give back in some way.
Right now, Darnall is working with another volunteer, Stephanie Pierce, to help plan Bridge Communities' jubilee celebration, which will be held later this year. She also expects to be busy helping plan the Glen Ellyn Infant Welfare Society’s Housewalk, which is held in May.
“I don’t take praise very well,” Darnall said. “I don’t need to get praise, but it was very flattering.”
Do you enjoy reading stories like this? Know people in Glen Ellyn who do good things? Let us know. Contact Local Editor Mary Ann Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org