It is a laugh that speaks for itself: joyous, booming, and infectious. Nan Jeffers's energy is unparalleled. The force of her spirit can change the energy in a room, and may very well change the direction of the lives of the youths she works with.
She could be called a jack-of-all-trades and has started a series of businesses over her life. Nan has done it all, anything from grant writing to printing marketing materials. Now she has found her true calling in her non-profit work and her Special Populations Enrichment, Education & Employment Department (S.P.E.E.E.D.).
From an early age, 'Ms. Nan' caught the entrepreneurial bug while growing up and working in rural North Carolina. "Driving a tractor allowed me to learn how to drive, which led to other work." The lessons of hard-work, transferable skills, and independent spirit stayed with her throughout her life.
S.P.E.E.E.D. was born two years ago when Nan recognized a need that she was more than qualified to fill. She felt that she could instill a spirit of entrepreneurship in the youth of Roxboro, NC aged from 8 to 21 years old.
Her entrepreneurs-in-training insist on being called 'youths' rather than 'kids'. It is a testament to the confidence she inspires in them that these youths insist on such a name. They see their own potential rather than being held back by any barriers that would impede a 'kid'.
S.P.E.E.E.D.'s first major project was to plant a garden, grown and tended to by the youths in the program. Nan wanted to show her mentees that with hard work, they could grow food that would help provide people of low income families with fresh vegetables. It also served as a lesson in gardening that will stay with them for life.
The garden's first year yielded a small crop and those volunteers who had stuck with the garden for the duration of the year did see a result from their hard work. They also learnt from any mistakes made and decided exactly what they would change for the next year's garden in order to increase their crop.
Watching Nan at work is exhausting in and of itself. It is hard to imagine that she holds down two other jobs while working the magic she does at S.P.E.E.E.D.. It must be magic that she brings into the room because you can feel the passion and the drive when the young entrepreneurs talk about their dreams.
"I want to be a fashion designer someday," says the already quite chic Azura Armstrong, and that is just after college. Before she goes to college, she hopes to be a dancer and an artist in high school. There is no doubt about how much Miss Nan inspires her mentees - they have their dreams and she will help make them possible.
Nan realized that it would take more than her passion to see her students succeed. She recruited Carolyn Samplewho helps Nan run the daily interactions in the office. Carolyn helps Nan to put things in perspective, as the role of 'overseer' rather than 'do-er' does not come naturally to Nan: "I just love being on the move!"
The whole team at S.P.E.E.E.D. is dedicated to helping their entrepreneurs set goals and develop the skills and confidence they need to achieve their dreams. S.P.E.E.E.D. is powered by Nan's energy and drive, showing her troupe of incredibly bright entrepreneurs experiences that will give them the self-confidence they will need to one day inspire others the way Nan does.
For more information on how to get involved with S.P.E.E.E.D., visit their website.
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