Jessica Goras joined the Together We Rise team as an online intern in July 2016. Through her internship she raised over $500 for Sweet Cases, and another $500+ for our yearly Disneyland trip! Because of her amazing drive and hard work, she was able to join us in California!
During her internship Jessica completed assignments and held fundraising events which helped her to surpass her fundraising campaign goals. Once she passed the $500 mark, she was officially chosen to fly out to California and participate in our annual trip where we reunited over 300 foster children with their siblings at the Happiest Place on Earth.
On September 23rd, we notified her that she won the contest and would be flown out one week later! Jessica joined us from Grand Rapids, Michigan on September 30th. She came into our office to meet all the TWR staff and other participants who were volunteering their time. The TWR staff and interns worked hard all Friday afternoon to prepare for the event.
After 2 exhausting but fulfilling days at Disneyland, Jessica returned to Michigan. She is now working to complete her degree in Social Work at Grand Valley State University. After she made it back to Michigan, we checked in with her to ask her more about the trip. Here is a little more on how she came to be a TWR intern, along with how she won the Disney trip of a lifetime!
Why did you choose the TWR internship?
Jessica: I choose the TWR internship because I know how difficult the foster care system is through mentoring foster children throughout the years, as well as through the classes that I have taken in college. I have been following TWR for a few years now, and I knew that I wanted to get more involved with my passion this summer, so this was the best choice to not only help me gain more skills, but also help me inspire other people and encourage them to help as well.
What major points did you learn from the internship?
Jessica: It took me awhile to get the hang of getting people to pay attention to my social media posts. For the first few weeks it felt like no one was taking the time to hear about the foster care system and what TWR is doing to help, but I kept on keeping on and eventually my constant posts caught on and I was seeing more “likes”, comments, shares, and donations in no time!
I think the best thing that I learned was that it is difficult to get people interested in what you’re interested in, because not everyone shares the same interests. However, I learned that it is important not to get discouraged in these situations; the most important thing is keep trying to show people how important it is. I feel that a lot of people that I connected with learned a lot from me about the foster care system and TWR, and I am so happy about that!
How’d you feel when you found out you won?
Jessica: SO EXCITED. I opened the email while I was on break at work and I jumped around the break room like a child on Christmas and I could not believe it. I then proceeded to tell everyone at work about how excited I was, because they all already knew how much I wanted to go.
How did you prepare for the trip/what did you expect?
Jessica: I didn’t really know what to expect, I was just going all in! I was unsure of what to pack, however, I was excited that I mostly just had to pack warm weather clothes, because in Michigan it was pretty chilly at the time. I prepared by just letting everyone know, freaking out about navigating the airports and flying by myself, as well as by making sure I had everything I needed and then some.
How was California? The TWR office?
Jessica: California was amazing! Completely different from Michigan, and I loved it! I think the best part was seeing the mountains as we got onto the highway, because I rarely get to see mountains. The closest thing Michigan has to mountains are dunes. The TWR office was different than I expected, but it was totally awesome! I was able to see the bikes, the Sweet Cases, and tons and tons of STICKERS (my favorite). I definitely enjoyed all of the artwork on the walls as well. That definitely gave it some spunk.
What was/were your role(s) while at Disney?
Jessica: My roles while at Disney were to prepare the tables for each group, get volunteers their t-shirt, talk to adorable kiddos, hangout with the TWR team, as well as chaperone a children’s group.
What was the toughest part of the trip?
Jessica: The time difference and waking up early everyday was pretty tough. I don’t think I ever actually adjusted, but the coffee helped wake me up. The kids and rides also helped keep me on my toes.
The most rewarding?
Jessica: When the little girl that I bonded with most in my group hugged me at the end of the night and told me, “I’m gonna miss you so so much.” It made my heart so full yet broke it all at the same time. She got in line to leave, looked back a minute later, and got out of line to hug me again.
Any extra trivia or surprising things!?
Jessica: There was a budding relationship in my kids group! Long story short: boy pulls girl’s hair, girl gets annoyed, boy admits (to me) he doesn’t really want to pull her hair but instead wants to hold her hand because he likes her! With a cheesy grin on his face, he then asks me to tell her he likes her. He put me in the middle as a personal cupid. It was adorable how much he just wanted to tell her he liked her. At the end of the night he was getting anxious because he knew he had to say goodbye. He then proceeded to tell her she was beautiful, cute, and adorable (even bigger cheesy grin). SO CUTE.
Together We Rise wants to thank Jessica Goras for being such an outstanding and model intern. Because of interns like her, we are able to achieve our goal of improving the lives of foster children! For more information on our internships and how you can be part of our family, please apply at https://www.togetherwerise.org/become-an-intern