East Aurora Advertiser

Spotlight on Jeannet de Jong

Jeannet de Jong of East Aurora is a hardworking and creative woman who loves art, educating young ones, and helping the environment. 

She has been participating in different environmental groups while teaching art in the Mandala School at 738 Main St. Jeannet teaches three different groups based on the student’s different learning abilities and how fast they understand the concepts. With having such a busy schedule, she still has time to attend the East Aurora Christan Church. 

Jeannet de Jong, second from left, has maintained a busy life of helping out around the community, especially in the arts and environmental sustainability.

Jeannet is originally from a small town in the Netherlands. She came to the United States because her spouse had a job opportunity with research in New York City early in 1982. But New York City was not the only place where the two had opportunities. Following the big city, the two moved to North Carolina, California and then back to the east coast where Jeannet found East Aurora. 

“It was a very long trip,” she said. “East Aurora felt a little bit  more like home than the other places I have lived, people walk and ride bikes to the places they need to go.” 

When coming to the U.S. many people face difficulties since they do not know their way of life. Jeannet explained how she would have different answers if someone asked her, “what was the most challenging thing for you coming to the U.S.?”

“People don’t have to worry about their survival in my country the way they have to here. They are guaranteed survival in my country,” she said. 

It is also difficult being away from her family, who are still overseas. 

With many challenges come accomplishments. “As I look back, the most passionate thing I did and do is inspire people. No matter what age they are, young or old.” Inspiring people and teaching young children about their health would be beneficial to them in the long term. Educating young children to keep the environment clean now will guarantee that the air they breathe will be much cleaner in the future.  

Participating in many local environmental groups such as ACES (Aurorans For Climate and Energy Sense) and CCL (Citizens Climate Lobby ) has opened Jeannet’s eyes to how we as individuals take care of our environment. ACES is a group of individuals who go out and promote environmentally safe habits and sustainability. “Time was ready for a change with the climate,” she said. 

This image was created out of bottle caps and was displayed at the Borderland Music+Arts Festival in September. Jeannet de Jong presented the idea to East Aurora middle school students to construct and find a new purpose for the plastic items.

In East Aurora, the CCL chapter is run by Paige Dedrick. The Citizens Climate Lobby is another organization that works on solutions for climate change. They are worried about the extinction rates skyrocketing and the rivers having so much plastic waste.

Working both independently and with a group is what Jeannet finds most enjoyable. She believes that every person has unique abilities in different fields. 

“I believe it is stronger to have groups work on something than one person because people have different ideas for everything,” she said. 

Throughout Jeannet’s time, she expressed how she does not live by any quotes but the last quote she used was by Alanis Obomsawin, “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” 

Jeannet and both of her teams are trying to make sure that nothing runs out, so the environment will be healthy enough for the following generations. She wanted to add in how the church she attends, East Aurora Christian Church, is also beginning to acquire an environmental group called the Green Chalice. 

“It is a great location. The church has been developing the Green Chalice for over two years, they are trying to reduce the carbon footprint, ” she said. “I wish all churches in the East Aurora village will combine effort to make a change for the environment.” 

With the coronavirus getting stronger throughout New York State, many of these organizations can not do anything to help the environment due to the social distancing method. But many medical operators are still doing their jobs and taking risks to save people. By which, they are inspiring people around the United States, she noted.

“The medical workers on the frontline are a huge and humbling inspiration to me and all of us. Serving others, while maybe losing their own lives in this battle against the pandemic,” she said.

Jeannet de Jong is hoping to see a change in the East Aurora community in years to come. Her goal has been to inspire people of any age to be more aware of the footprint they have been leaving on Earth’s surface. 

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