As a mother of three children, Jennifer Marzocca knows the importance of a strong community, and the positive impact it can have on teenagers. The retired Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy is volunteering at the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club to help expand the programs it offers teenagers.
A Lifelong Learner
Marzocca’s efforts are part of her Brandman University coursework as she pursues a doctorate degree, and her dream of helping children through the often turbulent teenage years. “I chose the Boys and Girls Club because I believe in the community, and I like how the community helps each other,” said Marzocca. “The programs for elementary-aged children are already in place, so I’m concentrating on programs for teens.”
She is using her education to help improve conditions for Coupeville adolescents. After graduating from Brandman with a bachelor’s degree in social science, she earned her master’s degree in organizational leadership in 2013. And now she’s pursuing her doctorate. The work she’s doing at the Boys and Girls Club is part of the required transformational change project. “We’re offering activities for teens and getting them involved in the community,” said Marzocca. “Whether we can develop mentorship opportunities at local businesses, or job skills training, it will make a difference for these kids.”
Marzocca grew up in Southern California and moved to Whidbey Island in Washington after high school. She looks at her own teenage years for inspiration. “I was a horrible student and didn’t have a great attitude,” said Marzocca. “But I knew I had more in me, and was destined to do something with my life.”
Military and Personal Inspiration
Marzocca served in the Navy for 20 years as an intelligence specialist, working with Navy SEAL teams, and serving as an instructor for SEAL support personnel. Most of the work she did is classified, but Marzocca describes it as an “intense and dynamic environment, with interesting, rewarding and challenging” assignments.
That same description fits with her current work, as both a student and volunteer. She sees the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club as an opportunity to engage kids at a time when it’s easy to go down the wrong road. Creating “cool” things for teens to do, from sailing lessons to summer camp, could help them make better choices as they grow into adulthood.
Shaping The Future
Already, the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club is seeing a jump in attendance for its teen events, going from a handful of kids to as many as 25. “Jennifer has really been a great resource for us,” said Robin Wilson, teen program coordinator. “With her work in juvenile services, she sees a whole different perspective of teens that we don’t see. And she’s able to gather statistics that we can then use in presentations to businesses for community support of our efforts.”In fact, the program will continue into the upcoming school year and move from the current club to the Coupeville middle school, in hopes of getting more teenagers involved. “I’m looking to the future for when my daughter becomes a teenager, and how I can help her and her friends,” said Marzocca. “I asked myself how I can create transformational change to improve the community, since I plan to be a part of this community for a long time.”