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Spotlight on Community Partnership: Janet Iraola

Janet Iraola is, in the best sense of the words, a passionate people-connector. At her terrific school, the James W. Hennigan K-8 School located in the heart of Jamaica Plain, Janet is a natural for her job as Community Field Coordinator and a key person connecting with staff, students and families. A warm, caring and engaging person, she is at her best when connecting people to each other and to community resources. Janet is the person who others turn to for so much, she gets things done, and her impact on the community is deeply felt.

So when Janet heard of the Desk Mates project – and knowing that many of her students did not have desks at home to study at – she went to work. She contacted Volunteer Ventures to find out how the program worked and how she could get desks to her students. She surveyed her school families to let them know of the Desk Mates opportunity, and created a list of those who wanted desks at home. Even during this past years’ most difficult times of remote learning due to COVID, Janet remained in contact with her students and families and was looking out for their needs. All in all, Janet was able to get 17 desks for her families – and even took on the building of two additional ones with her own children!

It was no surprise to learn that at other organizations, Janet held similar positions that put her right in the middle of creating personal connections, building networks, and gathering resources for people and families in need. Given her strong desire for being engaged and creating stronger communities, she has also served on school parent councils where her children attended school.

Janet didn’t stop with making a connection between the Hennigan school families and Desk Mates. With her many community connections and a passion for getting resources to people who need them, she reached out to her network of family shelters, family child care providers and residential homes to let them know about Desk Mates. As a result of her outreach and connections, Desk Mates was also able to provide 37 additional desks to community nonprofits including Project Hope’s Shelter and Family Child Care Programs, and The Home for Little Wanderers. When the numbers are all tallied, Janet was responsible for getting 54 desks to students and community partners to support learning and education! That’s an amazing impact on young people’s lives and an immeasurable investment in the future! Thank you Janet! You make a HUGE difference in people’s lives!

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