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Jenessa Fillipi

February 12, 2024
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Jenessa Fillipi, 2024 Minnesota Mother of the Year.

About

Bio

Jenessa grew up in northwestern Minnesota, raised knowing the importance of faith, family, and community. She graduated from MSU-Moorhead with a degree in secondary education and a masters in school counseling. Jenessa was an elementary counselor in Fargo for 15 years. Married to her husband Jake since 2002, the couple has been working and raising their 4 children in the Moorhead community. They stay active with church, sports, school, and service. In 2017, Jenessa and Jake founded Down Home (DH) nonprofit in an effort to bridge a gap for families emerging from homelessness. On December 23, 2017, their family transformed their first DH client’s empty space into a fully -furnished home. This sparked the passion to engage the greater community to become a powerful force in the battle against homelessness. Jenessa transitioned full-time as executive director of DH in the summer of 2021. She prides herself in empowering all she encounters.

Parenting Philosophy

Parenting is a deeply personal, dynamic, and evolving journey. Having been a mother for 19 years, here are my top three aspects that describe my parenting philosophy.

  1. Unconditional Love: Parenting is hard. It stretches my patience, my preconceived beliefs, and my will. Accepting the gift of each of my children where they are, striving to support them, letting them fail, and praying them into where God needs them to be, are all crucial elements for their development.
  2. Teaching Values: Instilling values such as kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, and responsibility in my children is paramount. These values guide their behavior, decision-making, and futures. Along with this, I believe it’s important to create an environment at home that is conducive to their spiritual growth. This includes inspirational quotes, displaying religious symbols, setting aside a quiet space for prayer, and incorporating traditions into our family life.
  3. Quality Time: Spending quality time with my children is essential for building strong bonds. At the close of each day, we spend intentional 1-on-1 time together. From scratching their backs, praying together, watching silly videos, and sharing more intimately, this time fosters connection and trust. During this time, I work hard at letting my children lead the conversations and allow time for being “still” together. In summary, my parenting philosophy is grounded in faith, perseverance, and structured flexibility as I strive to support each of my children into who the Lord needs them to be.

Motherhood and Community

The current intersection of being a wife, mother of four, and director of a nonprofit have expanded my scope of influence and community impact. The nonprofit world found me as I was certainly not seeking it. While I am flawed and ill-equipped in many ways, I have experienced the Lord’s grace and faithfulness beyond measure. Through failures, hiccups, do-overs, human error as well as grit, compassion, integrity, and vision, there is sustained strength to continue to say “yes” to even more that the Lord has in store. Perseverance and perspective keep me focused as our dynamic, growing team continues to break down barriers for families and individuals emerging from homelessness. I am privileged to work at a place that turns moving in into moving home. Our team of staff and volunteers are Boots on the Ground. Our hearts help us do the heavy lifting by offering hope with our hands and feet, providing a transformative fresh start and designing a life changing space that fosters dignity. A place to invite family and friends. A home to feel inspired, comforted, and nurtured. A community of belonging and new beginnings. Down Home’s process is extensive, intentional, and effective. Less than 5% of families we serve return to homelessness, compared to the national average of 50% and local average of 27%. This has had a significant impact in helping families stabilize in our community – providing hope, dignity, and a future beyond four walls. Touching testimonials from those we are privileged to serve indicates the positive impact in the lives of all who are part of the Down Home story. It is humbling to hear children whisper to their moms during the reveal of their new space, “We finally have beds to sleep on.” “Now I can invite my friends over to play.” These reminders of our many blessings and the power to transform homes and change the trajectory of other’s lives, keeps moving the needle forward in the Down Home mission of empowering lives one home at a time.

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