October 22, 2017

Teen Runs Rocking Chair-a-thon to Raise Money for Families of First Responders

Posted on November 4, 2013 by in Hometown, Missouri, Youth Advocacy Board Alumni

Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin, 17, of Chesterfield, seated right, along with her brother Brian Rubin, 10, left, ask people to donate money during Rockin’ 4 Relief outside the Dierbergs on Clarkson Rd. in Chesterfield on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Jennifer Rubin has run the event since she was 12 years old. The rocking chair-a-thon benefits The BackStoppers. Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle, [email protected] Click on the image to enlarge.

Jennifer is the current D.A.R.E. America Youth Advocacy Board Missouri Representative.

This article was written by Valerie Schremp Hahn and originally published at www.stltoday.com

CHESTERFIELD, MO – For Jennifer Rubin, 17, one of the best moments of the year happens just outside a Dierbergs store in Chesterfield, after she has rocked for 10 hours and finally stands up from her chair.

Friends, family and other supporters surround and cheer and hug her, and the fire engines and police cars parked nearby honk and sound their sirens.

“It’s incredible,” she says.

This is the fifth such year she will have stood up after rocking for 10 straight hours, and it’s for Rockin’ 4 Relief, the charity she started five years ago to benefit the BackStoppers, which aids families of fallen emergency responders.

Jennifer’s connection to the police started in grade school, when she became close to Chesterfield Police Officer Josh King, who was in charge of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program at her school. He asked her to volunteer for the department’s Safety Town program, and when she was 12, she got the idea for a fundraiser.

“She looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, ‘This is a really dangerous job. How can we give back to them?’” explained Jennifer’s mother, Sarah Rubin, of Chesterfield.

They tossed around ideas, and Jennifer decided to raise money for the BackStoppers. That first year, Jennifer rocked in a chair outside the Jewish Community Center in Chesterfield for 10 hours and raised $751.

The effort has grown. Last year, with more than 84 volunteers at 15 Dierbergs locations, she helped raise $17,887. Over the years, she’s raised a total of $45,718. This year, about 100 volunteers, most of them teenagers, rocked and collected donations at 21 Dierbergs locations on Saturday.

Jade Lubinski and Lillian Corzine, both 16, rocked outside Dierbergs in Shrewsbury. They had music playing and big smiles as they greeted shoppers coming and going.

“I really like talking to everybody,” said Jade, a junior at Notre Dame High School. “In the morning I was getting pretty dizzy, but now I’m used to it.”

Both Jade and Lillian, a sophomore at Notre Dame, planned to put the nine hours of rocking toward the community service required by their school.

A steady stream of donations filled their cardboard box, and a few police officers and firefighters stopped by to chat. Cindy Schroeder of Shrewsbury, a child safety expert, stopped on her way out of the store to make a donation.

“I care about kids doing things that are good, and I like to encourage it,” Schroeder said.

Ron Battelle, former St. Louis County police chief and now director of the BackStoppers, is obviously grateful. “Every summer we’ll get some kids who do a lemonade stand or things like that, smaller things, or kids will help their parents in fundraisers for us, but to the extent that Jennifer’s done is unheard of,” he says. “She’s mature beyond her age, you know. It’s pretty amazing.”

Jennifer is a senior at Parkway Central High School and spends half the day in the law enforcement and homeland security program at South Tech High School in Sunset Hills. Not surprisingly, she wants to become a police officer.

“It’s a job where you’re not behind a desk all day,” she says. “You’re out in the community, you’re talking to people, you’re saving people. I want to be like the guys who got me to where I am today.”

Jennifer is also a member of the Chesterfield Police Explorers, and she sits on the D.A.R.E. Youth Advocacy Board, which has given her the chance to travel around the country and even visit the Drug Enforcement Administration Academy in Quantico, Va. She’s spoken to large groups about her organization and hopes it can expand beyond the St. Louis area.

Al Spencer, a retired police officer in Cape Girardeau, Mo., who is now a D.A.R.E. liaison between the state and national programs, met Jennifer through DARE. “I wish I had half the energy she does,” Spencer said. “She’s just awesome. … She’ll go far in life.”

Jennifer doesn’t come from a police family. A distant cousin, Daniel Hendin, is a Clayton police officer. Her mom works for the department of motor vehicles. Her father, Phillip, is a chief financial officer for a property management company.

She has three younger siblings, twins Brian and Paige, 10, and Andrew, 6. Her siblings also help collect money, and their “cuteness factor” helps, Jennifer says, laughing.

She recalled one year when she and her brother, Andrew, asked a woman outside a store to donate. She said, “I’m so sorry, I don’t have any cash on me.” So Andrew said, “It’s OK! We take quarters, pennies, dimes … we even take checks!” With that, the woman dumped her change purse into the donation box.

Sarah Rubin says Rockin’ 4 Relief has been an amazing experience for her family and for those who participate, especially the teens.

“It’s teaching them that there’s more out there than their own world,” she says. “It also shows them that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make a difference.”