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Once a volunteer – now the boss of the front desk

bsec mayor front deskJeania Heppner is the pleasant voice and smiling face answering your call and greeting you at the front of BeaverStreetEnterpriseCenter, Jacksonville’s only core-city business incubator.  Outgoing, positive and efficient, Heppner goes out of her way to help each person who enters the Center because she knows how it feels to need help and receive it.

It was in September of 2012 that the former accounts receivable/customer service clerk was out of work but determined to continue learning new skills and eventually find employment, even if it meant that she would have to volunteer her services for a while.  She came to Beaver Street Enterprise Center (BSEC) as a volunteer through Work Source, a state-funded program that helps job-seekers earn free Florida Ready to Work Credentials, provides networking opportunities, job fairs and seminars and connects hiring employers with excellent candidates.  By November 16th, Jeania had earned a full-time position with BeaverStreetEnterprise   Center as the administrative assistant/receptionist.

In addition to volunteering at Beaver Street Enterprise Center, the “enterprising seeker,” Jeania also sought training simultaneously in a Nursing Assistant Course at the Life Pointe Career Institute.  She graduated in June of 2012 at the top of her Certified Nursing Assistant Class, with the highest GPA and a perfect attendance record.  “Jeania’s demonstrated determination and dependability, as well as her possession of the compassionate nature required to provide nursing care to others helped us choose her as the perfect candidate to be on the front lines of our service to the community here at the Center,” said Jackie Perry, BSEC’s Executive Director.

Today, Jeania’s friendly presence at the front desk provides a welcoming atmosphere to customers and clients of the many small businesses located at the busy business incubator.  Her own experience as a person seeking help from others increases her recognition of the importance of nurturing guidance for the many interns and volunteers who receive vital training at the center.

“I started here as a volunteer when we first opened our doors ten years ago,” notes Perry, whose extensive business background catapulted her into the position of Executive Director soon after she began volunteering.  “We value our volunteers here and when we have a job opening and a volunteer like Jeania gives us outstanding service, we are happy to bring that volunteer on board as a permanent employee.”

This year, as BeaverStreetEnterpriseCenter celebrates its first decade of growing small businesses and enhancing the economic strength of the Jacksonville community, visitors to the Center can expect nothing less than the finest quality of cheerful, professional service from the moment they walk in the door.  On a recent day, when Mayor Alvin Brown and his entourage came to the Center for a ribbon cutting ceremony, the first person he encountered was Jeania Heppner, who came out from behind the front desk to extend the hand of friendship and welcome to the Mayor.  Grinning, the Mayor responded, “Thanks for the warm welcome!  It’s good to meet the boss!”

BeaverStreetEnterpriseCenter’s 10th Anniversary Luncheon is scheduled for September 25th from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Main Library downtown.  For information, call 904-265-4700.

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