In 2017 we received a very generous donation from Steve Bornemann which honoured his late wife, Jess, who remains one of our most outstanding SPEC volunteers. Jess worked in the office keeping records and generally supporting wherever and however she was needed for several years. We value all of our volunteers but there are some who become beloved and remembered with great affection. That is Jess, who in her own mature and steadfast way encouraged and inspired us in our work. We have designated a fund in Jess’s name, “The Jess Metter Memorial Fund”, to support core operations, and Steve’s gift is the start to that legacy.
Jess Metter holding Betsy Fox
"She was the most dedicated admin volunteer I have ever encountered."
Former SPEC Director Dan Rogers
All volunteers are precious to community groups because they come with the gift of their person, their skills and dedication. Jess stood out for several reasons. First, she came in every week to provide administrative support and she was willing to do what, when and where things were needed. Things like patiently recording membership data and sending out personalized thank you notes. One SPEC board member, moved by this kindness, still has a handwritten note. How great is that? Being a volunteer who is a regular, who learns the ropes, who is flexible, who accumulates institutional history, is an immense asset to any organization, in part because they require very little staff time to train them as tasks emerge. It’s multi-level work that in any business would be well paid. For NGO’s they are the life-blood of the volunteer network that allows the organization to function. SPEC, like most NGO’s is fortunate to attract highly talented staff who take on an immense task for not enough money because they’re committed. But they’re the first to tell you how much they rely on equally talented and wildly generous support of volunteers. Jessie was one of those. She sensed the need and pitched in. And she loved SPEC and the work or the organization. She was an environmentalist through and through in the way she lived her life. They don’t get any better And yet, there’s more.
She was also a wise elder. Between 2008-2010 (before she and Steve moved closer to family in Halifax) she agreed to come onto the board where she always asked challenging questions, championed the most virtuous process of doing our work, was impeccable in her own ethics, and provided thoughtful advice when we met the stumbling blocks. We recognized that under her self-effacing and quiet exterior was a true elder with highly developed psychology and a profoundly simple spirituality of extending loving kindness to every being. She was fully committed to being engaged with the world in a way that didn’t leave scars and wounds. That made her an immensely safe and non-harming person. These attributes don’t just happen in people but are the flowering of a deep spirituality of justice, diversity, and non-harming. Jessie was utterly without ambition to supersede anyone else and so she stood out among the best and most beloved of the SPEC community.
With permission of her family, we are planning a memorial fund in her name to benefit administrative support. We hope you’ve appreciated getting to know her just a little better through this article. If you’re inspired by her story, consider being a donor to the Jessie Metter Memorial. Or become an administrative volunteer. We’d love to have you join the SPEC team but, in the spirit of Jess Metter, “go and do good wherever your heart leads you.”
Former SPEC Director Dan Rogers