“Sure!” That is the answer one can most likely expect when asking Jean Prinz for assistance with a reasonable and do-able task. I have heard it so often that I equate the word “Sure” with her.
By Dee Falasco
Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” If you were to observe Jean, you couldn’t help but agree. She seems to be the personification of both statements.
Jean thrives on working and has an almost perpetually cheerful disposition. In the many years I have known her, I am not sure I have ever seen her idle for any length of time, and someone is certain to benefit from all her constant activity.
Even when she is sitting–at meetings or at home–she is crocheting scarves for homeless services and the armed forces.
During the years I knew her at her church, she was a constant flurry of activity: helping in the garden (even during the pandemic), preparing the sanctuary for services, preparing the coffee service and snacks before services and serving on committees such as campus care, pastoral care, and the board of trustees.
The pandemic deprived her of her regular Sunday morning activity, but it opened new opportunities for Jean to help others. She helped Pasadena Unified make food deliveries to children at the beginning of the pandemic. She now shows up three times a week at one food bank or another to package food for distribution to needy families. She makes these trips in an ancient Acura which is held together, I believe, with rubber bands and the very purpose behind her making those trips.
She is a regular blood platelet donor at the Red Cross. At a time when there is such a desperate need for blood, it is hard to get enough whole blood donors. Since platelet donation is so much more a difficult process for donors themselves, it is even harder to get them. And yet, there is Jean, a regular at the donor centers, letting them poke needles into her arms, and sitting a very long time for the apheresis machine to remove platelets from her blood and return it, slightly colder than before, into her body. As an enthusiastic regular five minute whole blood donor, I consider what Jean does for 90 minutes each time to be nothing less than heroic.
People who seem as happy as Jean often make others suspicious. The feeling is that they are clueless about the troubles of the world. Such is not the case with Jean. I have seen her angry and take action against racism, xenophobia, homophobia, poverty and the travesty of climate change. She does not keep her head buried in the sand to keep the smile on her face.
Neither is it always a lark for her to be bending over large boxes and filtering good fruit from the rotten; or finding just the right two cabbages to fit into a 5-pound bag. I have seen her limp out of the hot warehouse often enough to know that it isn’t all roses and perfectly ripe fruit for her.
So, why her general cheerful nature? My guess is that she is getting happiness from helping others, and she is finding herself by losing herself in the service of others.
> Here are just a few of many organizations that can help you get started and find the right path to your own happiness:
- Union Station Pasadena
- Pasadena Humane Society
- Volunteer Match – Pasadena Volunteer Opportunities
- LA Regional Food Bank
- Shepherd’s Pantry (Glendora, Irwindale, Baldwin Park)
- The American Red Cross
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