December 22 at 1:20am

Sharing Jared’s Legacy with Interfaith

Last Saturday, December 16, would have been Susan Baker’s son Jared’s 15th birthday. Unfortunately, his mother was not able to celebrate with him because Jared passed away last July. Jared was an extremely happy and generous teenager that connected strongly with his teachers and his peers. He was kind and always gravitated towards the underdog, wanting to spend time with them over others. This generosity of spirit extended to his birthday, when he preferred to volunteer instead of having a party. “For Jared’s birthday, he said that he didn’t want to have a party and that he wanted to go feed the homeless,” Susan said. “And even though he has passed, we still wanted to volunteer in celebration of his birthday.”

To honor her son, Susan and her two daughters, Shannon and Sharilyn, organized a special memorial event for Jared’s birthday this past Saturday at Interfaith. They, along with 10 of their family members, volunteered in Interfaith’s Nutrition Center from 5 a.m.–8 a.m. preparing and serving breakfast, as well as  putting together sack lunches. “When I looked around the kitchen at Interfaith, it was like having a Christmas event with my family,” Susan said. “I was so impressed with what we were serving –  pancakes, oatmeal, vegetables, and chicken!”

While volunteering, the group all wore matching shirts they had made for a fundraiser walk in San Diego with Jared’s photo on them. While they worked, several clients asked about their shirts, which sparked conversation and allowed the volunteers share Jared’s story. Of these interactions, there was one Interfaith client that Susan connected with in a very special way. “When he asked me who Jared was and I told him, it was as though all of sudden I was speaking with a close friend,” said Susan. “He was so sympathetic; it felt like he was reaching out to me in my time of need. No matter what he was going through at that time, we were connecting.”

This volunteer experience was both a memorial for Jared, as well as an opportunity for healing for his family. They were able to honor Jared, while also serving their community and connecting with people from very different backgrounds. “These people have real struggles,” said Shannon. “But they manage to navigate through their lives and are still able to find joy in the everyday. Volunteering was wonderful! It was a really positive way to start the day. I feel like even though we were just handing out milk, we made a difference.”

Thank you to Susan Baker and her two daughters, Shannon and Sharilyn for sharing their beautiful story with us.

If you are interested in volunteering with a group or as an either an individual with Interfaith, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Micki Hickox at (760) 490-6380 ext. 204 or mhickox@interfaithservices.org.