In move to trailer park, family leading by example

Decisions of the heart often don’t make a lot of sense on paper.

In Corcoran, Minn., Jill and Brian Dejewski have given up life in a two-story home and moved to a trailer park because more than half the people who live there fall below the poverty line.

Jill, at the time a seminary student at Bethel, started volunteering in the community 18 years ago and over time the couple helped set up and recruit volunteers for school homework help, English classes, food distribution, and legal help.

KARE 11’s Boyd Huppert reports that the couple decided it best if they, too, lived in the community, even while acknowledging there’s higher drug use, more poverty, and more domestic violence.

“There’s a lot more opportunities to experience purpose in your life,” Brian concluded.

“They really believe in what they’re doing here,” the mayor says. “They understand the significance of leading by example, of committing yourself to a cause, and they’re doing it. Frankly I wish that more of us were capable of doing that.”

Amy Denneson, the principal at Rockford Middle School, has also gained an appreciation for the Dejewskis’ ability to get things done. During her first year as principal she received a call from Jill. “She said, ‘Hey, I am working out at Maple Hill and do you want to get together for coffee and talk.'”

The conversation started a partnership that now sees Rockford Middle School teachers traveling to the park two days a week to offer additional after-school instruction.

Denneson says she likes to think she would have discovered the needs at Maple Hill on her own, “but it took that, ‘Hey, come take a look and let’s see what we can do, because I think together we can make a difference.'”