Reader of the Month: Jess Stoltz

Hey guys! I hope you have all been enjoying the “Reader of the Month” series thus far. Including Jess, there will be one final reader of the month presenting their article, and that seventh person will end September’s series of incredibly inspiring people. To stay updated on past readers of the month, check them all out here!

Our next reader of the month is a very inspiring young woman, who found out how rewarding it is to volunteer after helping her grandfather volunteer in Haiti. She makes some really good points about leaving one’s comfort zone, so check out her article below:

Reader of the Month #6: Jess Stoltz


Hi friends!

My name is Jess Stoltz and I’m 23 living in Salisbury, MD. I’m a big believer in our STORY: we’ve all got one and we’re all in the midst of writing it. I hope my story shapes out to be one worth reading:

I was raised a Midwestern athlete with a big heart and a small perspective before I left for college. There, I was a part of the softball program, felt what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus, and learned quickly to meet as many people as possible. I run a blog, Daily Illuminations, and this month we are challenging readers to a September Slow-Down Challenge to make room for the important aspects of life!

My grandfather had been going to Haiti for eight-ish years. He is the closest individual I have as an example of Jesus on Earth; he is 70+ years old and still traveling to spread love! In 2011, I asked if I could go with him. I really didn’t anticipate actually being able to go. He said I could, and every January since, I’ve been going to Haiti to spread love to people who, before I went, I thought were less fortunate than I am. How wrong I was.


My grandfather and his church sponsor the small village of Balan where they (we) are in the midst of building a medium-sized medical clinic and implementing a farmer’s education through some students at a Haitian University. He and his crew have also installed a swing set and basketball hoop on the school’s playground, installed a well for clean water, and have gotten to team up with Tufts University students to set up solar panels for a nearby school- all things I’ve been so blessed to be involved with.

I can’t tell you how much it changes my attitude and outlook being in Haiti each year. I truly believed we were better off than them until I spent time understanding their lives. Β It turns out that they live a beautifully simple life of reliance on God and a love of Jesus at their very core- not clothes, not entertainment, just simple, wonderful love. I say this all while they are fighting for food and shelter daily, have a few articles of clothing, and by no means are protected from diseases, let alone, they cannot afford to see a doctor. But they LOVE. The men hold other men’s hands. The people don’t have “comfort zones” where someone is in their space. They just love.


It’s something we can’t get a grasp of until we go. It might be scary, and new, and out of the “comfort zone,” But what better way to learn about loving people. Go if you ever have the chance.

I had to get over the obstacle of being scared, not knowing what to do or how to act, how I’d eat and sleep and react. I tell you, it doesn’t matter once you’re there with them. Because I’ve overcome that fear, I can say I’ve been to Haiti with my best friend and my grandfather!


Currently, I am an assistant softball coach as Salisbury University earning my Masters degree. I moved out here the summer after I graduated college. It was a move that I knew I had to do but, again, that fear was present! I learned by moving that taking the jump brings you more confidence the next time you have to. I am blessed to be 25 minutes from the shore and I’ve found a fabulous spot where I love to do my reading on the bay; I call it my “God on the Dock.” Β I love my little local coffee shop, Viva Espresso. If I could do all of my work from there, I’d be set for life!

I encourage everyone to share their story- whatever way suits you. For me, it’s writing, encouraging people through my blog and on the field, passing love on and getting to know people who are different than I am. The last of which may be the hardest and is a constant jump. But jumping for others is the best jump of all. πŸ™‚


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25 Responses to Reader of the Month: Jess Stoltz

  1. You are a beautiful soul Jess….what an incredible realization. I have made similar trips to Nicaragua and Africa. We simply have no idea how out of whack our world is until we experience it for ourselves. And as you say, richness is measured by love, not money.

  2. What an inspirational story! Celeste πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for sharing my story, Christine! Thank you to all who took the time to read it. Now go share your own! -Jess

  4. That was glorious! I am so glad you made the jump. It is often necessary to get another perspective of a place that seems so down in the dumps if you were watching the media. Thank you for telling us the truth about it.

  5. Sounds like wonderful work and learning. Keep the Love going–I am sure you will find many opportunities to share Jesus’ Way.

  6. πŸ™‚

  7. Keith Maginn says:

    Great story, Jess. Thank you sharing your story and for making a difference!!

  8. fitlikepri says:

    Hey this is Pri from fitlikepri, I have nominated you for a Liebster award!
    For more info:
    Hope you decide to join in πŸ™‚

  9. jess'smama says:

    Very proud of my daughter Jess. She does have a gift for the written word, and she is an inspiration to many. She has an amazing outlook on life and continues to “dream big.” She is always striving for goodness and loves working with and meeting new people. Love you Jess!

  10. jess'smama says:

    I think it is important to note that in Jess’s travels to Haiti, she learned to communicate with the people via an alternative means. They are use a French-based dialect and Jess does not speak French. They have had a translator available on their trips, but for the most part, in working with the children of the village, she has implemented her own communication methods and had to really move out of her comfort zone to overcome the language barrier.

    Aside from the trips to Haiti, Jess again ventured outside her comfort zone by moving over 10 driving hours away from her family and friends, not knowing anyone there. She continues to experience new challenges and rewards, and grow with God. Very proud of this young woman who is determined to make a difference in our world.

    • I agree that Jess is certainly inspirational! And overcoming the language barrier is also an awesome accomplishment πŸ™‚ I would imagine that living ten hours away from family and friends would also be very scary, but it seems like she’s a very strong person!

  11. Barbara Leis says:

    Jess you are a real inspiration to young people. Keep up the good work and kept your heart on God. Good luck in your school work this year

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