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Volunteering Makes Life Happy

“I don’t do anything I don’t want to do,” said Jimna Knapp, Rainbows volunteer. “Doing what I enjoy is important. It’s my fulfillment, my happiness and it’s what makes life happy. One of the things I love most to do is volunteer.”

Volunteering and caring for others have always been a part of Jimna’s life. An educator and school counselor for 23 years, she was very involved in school activities and has long been a volunteer with her church. After her retirement, Jimna became a volunteer with Butler County’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). She sews quilts for Children’s Mercy Hospital and lap pads with creative, pretty patterns for nursing homes.

Jimna has sewn sensory, sequined pillows, cot sheets, bibs, seasonal tablecloths, wraparound covers for a craft unit and a classroom aquarium, and large floor pillows for Rainbows’ Early Care and Education classrooms. Her favorite project so far has been repairing the highchair covers for the Infant Room. “Rainbows is so fiscally responsible, and I was happy to be able to contribute,” said Jimna. “Replacing the covers would have been an expense that they don’t need to worry about now.”

Jimna began volunteering with Rainbows in 2020, however her relationship with Rainbows goes back more than two decades. Two of Jimna’s grandsons received Rainbows’ services more than 20 years ago. Trent, now 25, is non-verbal and a gifted artist. He is the illustrator in his family business, Drawingsbytrent. His younger brother, twenty-three-year-old TJ was developmentally delayed but has overcome many challenges and has a full productive life as an adult.

When her granddaughter, Janessa was born at 29 weeks, the NICU nurse recommended the family contact Rainbows. “She informed us that Rainbows would be a huge help in tackling the issues most preemies face and she was correct,” said Kristi, Janessa’s mother. “We had a monthly visit with Rainbows to make sure Janessa was hitting milestones and help her with her sensory issues. She didn’t like many of the food and clothing textures. She found success against every obstacle that she was facing. Whether it was eating a mushy strawberry or wearing a tutu, with the steps, tips, and tricks that our therapist shared, she accomplished these goals!”

“Rainbows brought us comfort and ways to achieve what our daughter needed in some of the most difficult and stressing times of her early life,” said Kristi. “She was put on a track for setting goals and outcomes and then finding ways to meet those.”

Today Janessa is a happy and active 10-year-old. She’s a competitive baton twirler, plays volleyball and soccer, and is on the youth praise team at church. She’s an all-A student and a student leadership ambassador for her school. She loves sewing with her grandma and giving back to Rainbows!

Jimna and her husband, Duane have a big group of friends that get together all the time. They also belong to the Y and can be found there Tuesday and Thursday mornings. “You’ve gotta get out there if you are physically able,” said Jimna. “I feel fortunate to be able to get out.”

Jimna enjoys vegetable and flower gardening and mowing their 5 acres of land. “I love to mow,” she said. “It’s meditative.”

“Family is very important to me,” said Jimna. “We have 2 sons and a daughter, all married, and 8 grandchildren, 3 of whom are 11 grandchildren…that I try to have individual alone time with at lunch, visiting, or even sewing for Rainbows.”  Jimna and Duane will celebrate 61 years of marriage in June 2023 with a family vacation to Galveston. The entire family is going!

Jimna’s sewing expertise is amazing, but it’s her spirit that truly makes her a special volunteer. She brings care and love with her whenever she’s delivering her gifts. We look forward to seeing what she’s brought and simply having her in the building.

Jimna was recently honored as a Pay It Forward volunteer by DeVaugh James Injury Lawyers.