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Intentional Giving: The Conclusion of RJ Jenkins’ Story

Intentional Giving: The Conclusion of RJ Jenkins’ Story

Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson

RJ Jenkins

“When I came to Ocala, I had no friends, which was odd, because I’m the type of person to have friends,” R.J. Jenkins explains. “I’m a very social person.”

He teases his partner Todd that they had four months of “absolute bliss,” when R.J. first moved to Ocala. They had been keeping up a long-distance relationship, and their reunion felt like a honeymoon. As most couples do, they finally had a big disagreement. “I stormed out of the kitchen and got into my car. I realized I had nowhere to go. I had no friends.”

When R.J. started thinking of finding people with whom he’d get along, he felt volunteering his time was a great place to start. “I think we have an incredible non-profit community here. ‘I’d like to help,’ is a real door-opener—especially when people sense that you want to help with no real agenda, other than really trying to help.”

He kept offering his time for things that he had a genuine interest in. “I tried to be really intentional about my time and think seriously about where my values aligned with the values of the organization. Through that work, I have found my people. I went from not knowing anyone five years ago to being very evangelical about Ocala.”

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R.J.’s passion for language, reading, and the Ocala community are palpable, as he talks, and the community has embraced him in return. “I think one of the things that worked out well for me is that I really tried to be thoughtful about what I was doing in the beginning. Once the community starts to see you in these sorts of roles, they start to see you as that [type] of person.”

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