Community

Redmond girl starts up nonprofit organization as a way to help others

From left, Alex Kessler, Kaila Johnson, Marisa Knaus, Jillian Roels and Hannah Dunlap collected hats for Hats Off for Cancer, an organization that supplies hats for children with cancer. - Courtesy photo
From left, Alex Kessler, Kaila Johnson, Marisa Knaus, Jillian Roels and Hannah Dunlap collected hats for Hats Off for Cancer, an organization that supplies hats for children with cancer.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Jillian Roels, Miss Redmond Teen USA 2011, has founded a nonprofit organization called Spark Your Heart as way to a lend a helping hand to others.

The idea for Spark Your Heart came more than a year ago, when Roels, a junior at Redmond High School, encountered a homeless man off a freeway exit and decided to make a difference in his life. She brought him lunches, snacks, sometimes her money and eventually got out of the car and asked him about his story and for him to provide a list of needs.

From helping this man, Roels felt a spark of inspiration to continue doing small favors for others. She has volunteered for many organizations including Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure, babysitting for special needs students at the Lake Washington School District Resource Center, mentoring children and young adults, cheering on the participants of the Special Olympics and writing letters to service men and women stationed overseas.

Financial donations are used for stationary and postage for letters to service men and women, flowers to retirement homes, clothing, blankets, hats and necessities for the homeless — just to name a few things. Roels' most recent project was collecting hats for Hats Off for Cancer, an organization that supplies hats for children with cancer. Roels collected the hats through the Redmond chapter of Girl Talk a nonprofit organization she owns that provides mentorship for girls ages 10-15. They received 36 hats.

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