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Jessi W.

The give and the take.

When Jessi W. first heard of the CHIVE, she was surrounded by military guys who kept talking about all the good-looking women they were seeing on the site.

(They didn’t say “good-looking women” verbatim, but you get the idea—and so did Jessi.)

“At first, I thought it was a website for pictures and fun articles, but not long after I joined, you all launched Chive Charities, and I was like, ‘This is something I can get behind,’” said Jessi.

She had joined the Air Force for the promise of free college. Jessi’s dad passed away when she was 13, and her schoolwork took a big hit. She wasn’t as focused, didn’t put in her best effort, and was (understandably) distracted. 

“My grandpa was in the Marines during Vietnam, and he said the only way he would support me is if I joined the Air Force because he wanted the best for me,” she joked.

She was first stationed in Monterey in 2012, when she began to notice some physical challenges. Since they were doing a lot of beach runs, she assumed her ankle issues were tied to that and tried to let it go. The medical team kept labeling it “Achilles tendinitis,” so she took them at their word and kept pushing forward.

Because of all the physical therapy and appointments, she rolled back 20 weeks, didn’t get to graduate with her friends, and was placed in a whole new class – which she ended up graduating at the top of.

After that stint, she was sent to Goodfellow, Texas, and her ankles didn’t get better; they got worse. 

Eventually, in 2016, she had surgery on both ankles, and doctors discovered that her tendons were too short. First was her left ankle and left Achilles tendon in February 2016, then that same surgery in December on her right leg. While Jessi was under anesthesia, something happened that’s tough to understand to this day. When she woke up, she was told they had to tourniquet her leg during the procedure. She’s been in pain every day since.

Worst of all, beyond the ankle injuries, her time in the service was marred by more traumatic experiences. 

“I don’t have a lot of happy memories from my time in,” Jessi said. “I was abused and assaulted, and yeah…it just wasn’t great.”

After six years of service, she was done. The silver lining is that she met her partner, Calvin, around that time, and they’ve been together for 9 years now.

Calvin has been by her side since the beginning, when the ankle pain became a constant companion in their lives, when she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), when she first learned that she had chronic fatigue syndrome, when she stopped being able to shower or bathe herself, and when she required the use of a walker and a wheelchair for mobility.

“I’m 32 years old, and my partner has to help me get dressed daily,” she told us. “There are days I have to ration my pain meds. I understand there’s an opioid crisis, but it’s really hard for those of us with chronic pain. I’ve had to learn over the last six or seven years that I’m not the only one being treated this way, and it’s not okay. I have to be my own advocate.”

A lot of her life has changed, but there’s been a lot that’s stayed the same, too – like the sense of belonging she feels within theCHIVE community.

It has helped her fit in and to find a place where she’s accepted and appreciated. 

“When I first moved to Colorado, everyone I met was part of Colorado Chive,” said Jessi. “I've been friends with them ever since and trying to do the best I can with everything I have. The Veteran and military community brought me in, but I stuck around for other stuff.”

That same community recommended that she apply for help from Chive Charities, the nonprofit Jessi has donated to since 2012. Specifically, her good friend Yvonne Harrity, suggested she reach out. 

“I never thought I’d have to be in a position to ask you guys for help,” she admitted. “When I first started donating to Chive Charities, I was a Green Member. But last year, I had to drop down, and the extra $10 I get a month, you guys get it. I never thought I’d need it, but I’m so thankful you guys are there for me.”

Jessi lives in a layout where the bedroom and living area are below the main floor kitchen and bath. Because of her increasing pain and mobility challenges, getting upstairs has become burdensome and time-consuming. 

With the support of this community, the one Jessi has been an active member of since 2012, Chive Charities was able to fully fund the cost of an in-home stairlift for a total of $3,800. 

Aly and Bethany from the Chive Charities team surprised her with that news a few weeks ago:

This is really what this whole community is about – being there for others when they need it most. For the last 12 years, Jessi has given. She’s given her time, friendship, and money to support others.

So when she faced the unthinkable and needed some help of her own, she knew exactly where to turn. (Special shoutout to Yvonne and the Colorado chapter for nudging her our way!) It was Jessi’s turn to take – to get back some of what she’s given over the years. And it was our privilege to be there for her and support another deserving Veteran.  

On our Zoom call, you could almost feel Jessi’s gratefulness through the screen. “You guys have no idea how big this is,” she beamed. “I no longer have to worry about ‘Can I get up and down the stairs?’ or ‘Can I leave my house?’ I’m not going to be bed-bound anymore. This is why I’ve been a Chive Charities member every month. This is what it’s all about.”

If you’re not part of this incredible community already, this is a great time to join us. Whether you’re donating to help a rare medical or military family, first responder, or Veteran like Jessi, or attending events, meeting up with other community members, or simply spreading the word about Chive Charities, you’re having real impact on real lives. We’d love to have you as part of our mission to make the world 10% happier. DONATE HERE.

Jessi W.'s Updates

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