Jessica Richmeyer ’13
Jessica was nominated by Megan Anthony ’14, Kristen Phillips Murray ’04, Emily Richmeyer ’08.
The 2018 Young Alumna Serviam Award recipient, Jessica Richmeyer, UA Class of 2013, has always been driven by faith and service. Her Ursuline Academy education further cultivated that desire to serve, and she has continued to embody the Serviam spirit in her daily interactions since graduating from Ursuline.
Jess’ altruistic spirit led her to continue her education at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. She quickly added value to the Spring Hill Community through her involvement in campus ministry. In her sophomore year, Jess began fundraising for the International Service Immersion Program (ISIP) so that she and fellow students could dedicate their spring break to volunteering through international service trips. Jess first traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, to assist in building an additional room to a one-room home that housed a family of four and to also spend time with the children in the Pathways to Purpose program. During this trip, Jess fostered relationships with peers and faculty while also immersing herself in the learning of a new culture. It is safe to say that her first ISIP experience changed her life. Before embarking on this adventure, Jess, like many college students, struggled to determine what degree she wanted to pursue. The day she came back from spending time with those less fortunate in Nicaragua, her career path couldn’t have been more evident; Jess was made for a life of faith, community, justice, and service.
From that moment on, Jess knew she wanted to help others not only for her living, but also as a calling. She then declared her major in psychology with plans to earn a Masters in social work. She has since continued to serve daily in all of the communities that have touched her life. In fact, the following year, Jess volunteered on a second ISIP trip to the Dominican Republic where she engaged in deep conversations regarding social issues with the citizens of that country. Jess gleaned an understanding of the conditions of poverty in the Dominican Republic and returned to the United States equipped with knowledge to assist her college in planning future service trips to the Dominican Republic. Her senior year at Spring Hill, Jess was selected as a Senior Leader for her third and final ISIP trip to Belize City, Belize, where she and her group built a home for man named Wilton. With support from campus ministry, Jess and the students in her group took on the extra responsibility of fundraising money to add a bathroom to Wilton’s home.
In 2017, Jess supported the students in her ISIP group in preparing for the trip to Belize as well as participating in fundraising, handling paperwork, organizing activities, and creating a strong bond within the group before they left to serve. In addition to ISIP, Jess was a leader for multiple campus ministry retreats each year, spending time engaging with students within the Spring Hill community and growing deeper in faith.
Jess’ heart is pure gold. In addition to the aforementioned, the list of simple daily acts of service, kindness, and leadership that Jess carries out in her local community seems endless.
Jess delivers meals on Thanksgiving Day to people who are home-bound and helps with the “giving tree” at her parish each holiday season. She served as the Vice President of Chapter Development in her Phi Mu Sorority for one year, planning sisterhood activities at their weekly chapter meetings to strengthen the bond of her chapter, focusing on character, sisterhood, service and knowledge.
The highlight of Jess’ Serviam life post-Ursuline was volunteering as an intern with Hand in Hand Ministries in Auxier, Kentucky, during the summer of 2016. Jess spent the entire summer devoted to serving the Appalachian community. She organized volunteers for this ministry and aided in restoring homes and trailers for people in the area who simply needed a hand-up. Her daily activities included removing waste from homes and building handicap-accessible ramps for those who struggled getting into their homes safely.
When Jess graduated from Spring Hill College, she applied to serve as a Jesuit Volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. She was matched with the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane, Washington, where Jess spent one year serving. At the nursery, Jess took on the role of the Family Support Specialist where she helped to counsel and provide respite care for parents in crisis situations such as facing homelessness or domestic violence situations. Jess facilitated in-person appointments with parents who used the resources of the nursery. Jess also served as a House Parent at the nursery, caring for the children in the back playroom. As a house parent, Jess played with the kids, cooked nutritious meals for the them, and helped them deal with their feelings. But mainly, Jess gave the children her unconditional love. It is from her time with JVC Northwest that Jess realized the beauty and significance of community, living simply, and social justice, values that she carries with her every day.
Currently back in St. Louis, Jess is a live-in assistant at the Joyful House, a L’Arche home which is an interfaith community of people with and without developmental disabilities. Jess supports the core members (those members in the home with an intellectual disability) in daily living activities, supporting them in living as independent a life as possible. In this role, Jess is able to live out her values of community and faith. Through each core member’s individual gifts and personalities, Jess is learning the importance of living in the present, being true to one’s self, and enjoying the beauty of everydayness that life offers.
Jess whole-heartedly exemplifies Ursuline’s spirit of Serviam. She has dedicated her life to choices rooted in the selfless acts of service and is a role model to the communities that surround her. The qualities that Ursuline instilled in her have truly changed and shaped her life and her world. Those blessed to know her will agree she goes above and beyond to serve in every facet of her life. Jess radiates joy at all times but never so much as when she is helping a fellow human. Whether it’s traveling halfway around the world or helping a friend that lives down the hall, Jess has given so much of herself to both her local community and the broader world community.