Quiet Giants : Jennifer Tate
Giving Back ... With a Smile
By Jordan Rosenfeld Photos by Will Sundquist
If Jennifer Tate makes a person smile , or brightens their day , she feels she is fulfilling her purpose . “ I ’ ve been put on the planet to bring joy to people . That ’ s what my contribution is ,” Tate said , adding with a chuckle . “ Because I ’ m not a doctor and I ’ m not one of these people they write about in Fortune Magazine .”
Tate , a Morgan Hill resident for 44 years , does not need to be anything but her own generous self , yet she gives of her time and energy to so many causes ; it should be impossible for one woman to do .
Her volunteer spirit is grounded in her family of origin , with two giving parents , and it kicked into gear for Tate herself when she was in high school . She simply never quit ; even after having her own children , Stacey and Gregory , Tate looked toward her community and how she could help those in the greatest need . “[ My work has ] always been about children or people in underserved communities ,” she said .
In the 1980s , she volunteered to teach sex education to middle and high school students , not always the easiest task ; some parents were unsure whether they wanted their children to receive the information . But she had a way of winning even the most skeptical parents over , she said . To her , educating young people was worth the few moments of tension .
Tate approaches things with an eye toward understanding and connection . “ My biggest thing has always been not to change your mind [ but ] help me understand what you feel . I ’ d like for you to understand how I feel .” Everyone looks at life through different lenses , she added , “ and none of them are rose colored . So how I see the world is not necessarily how you see the world .”
This attitude has helped her in all her volunteer roles , which are numerous . She has given her time to such organizations as the Children ’ s Home Society , the San Jose Junior League , and she even served on the Morgan Hill Unified School Board . Eventually , all of this led her into political advocacy . “ I went to Washington D . C . to advocate for children in general , underserved of course , because they always percolate to the top when you ’ re in an advocacy position .”
Currently , she volunteers with Community Solutions , for whom she is a passionate advocate , as the fund development chairman , and secretary of the board . “ It ’ s very rewarding to be working with an agency that you can see has so much success . Their behavioral health and mental health side is amazing . And even though , like everyone else , they ’ re understaffed , they ’ re highly committed .”
If people don ’ t know even half of the things Tate has done , she says it ’ s because , “ I guess I run silent , run deep . I tend to get in there and work behind the scenes .”
Another passion of hers is the Sue ’ s Story Project , a non-profit research fellowship for Lewy Body Dementia , founded by Morgan Hill residents Sue and Chuck Berghoff and local writer Robin Shepherd . Sue is living with Lewy Body Dementia ( LBD ), most famously known as the illness actor Robin Williams struggled with . LBD is the second most common form of progressive dementia after Alzheimer ’ s ,
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