Inspirational Woman: Jessica Belle
You can’t meet Jessica Belle without immediately feeling at ease with how warm and down-to-earth she is. It is her warmth and relatability that has turned her passion for helping troubled youth into a career path. The 29-year-old Kansas City native, turned California girl, will be heading back to her hometown to head a juvenile detention department for a non-profit.
Jessica has always had a heart for youth, specifically in the juvenile rehabilitation area, and the charities that support them. She has volunteered as a Certified Court-Appointed Youth Advocate for CASA, an organization that helps foster kids. She also names the Angel Tree organization as one of her favorite charities, as they help the children of men and women in prison.
As if all that she does in a 24 hour period isn’t enough, Jessica, also a licensed minister, is currently working on earning her Master’s Degree in Social Work. It would be easy to be intimidated by this young woman, but you wouldn’t have to. This is a girl who will binge-watch Insecure like the rest of us, eat her favorite guilty please meal, shrimp alfredo pasta, and make sure the windows of her car are all the way up when singing/rapping to anything in Tupac’s catalog!
Jessica Belle is someone I’m happy to have crossed paths with, and she is one of The Realist Woman’s inspirational women. In this interview, Jessica opens up about how she began working with the youth, why mental health-care is vital for the next generation, her faith, and an inspirational message for our readers.
The Realist Woman: You recently accepted a position in Kansas to head the juvenile department of a non-profit. Which non-profit will you be working for?
Jessica Belle: Because we work deep in the prison system for safety purposes, I can not give out the exact name. But I will be continuing my CASA (Court Appointed Youth Advocate) work on a much larger scale and working closely with the youth of Kansas City.
The Realist Woman: How did you get involved with the organization?
Jessica Belle: I got involved with the organization as a volunteer after attending a court case where they were present.
The Realist Woman: What is your background with troubled youth?
Jessica Belle: I have years of juvenile detention and prison background. Working with CASA consists of going to court with and fighting on behalf of children who are in the foster system.
The Realist Woman: Where does your heart for youth come from?
Jessica Belle: I believe it started when I first started doing prison ministry with my church. During that time I noticed how many 17 to 18-year-olds were in jail serving life sentences and my immediate thought was, how did they get to this place? From then, I started to focus on juvenile detention ministry and really trying to prevent kids from entering prison in the first place.
The Realist Woman: Why is it important to work with juveniles?
Jessica Belle: Children in the system are often the forgotten ones. Children as young as 16 are being locked away for the majority of their lives. The youth are feeling hopeless and ignored. It is important to understand that we must be a voice for the people who don’t have one and we must extend grace as Christ would.
The Realist Woman: What does this country need to pay attention to when it comes to our youth?
Jessica Belle: This country needs to remember that our youth truly are the future. In a world where everything is social media based, we need to remember the importance of face to face contact. Teens these days have to face different challenges than teens from just 10 to 15 years ago. We need to pay more attention and go back to the “it takes a village” type of raising. Mental health with our youth needs to be addressed immediately.
The Realist Woman: Do you have an idea of where these kids problems stem from?
Jessica Belle: There are many things, some of them are environmental (meaning product of their environment), others are situational such as children being in foster care or undergoing some type of trauma. Mental health also plays a major part.
The Realist Woman: What is your opinion of the current juvenile detention system?
Jessica Belle: I have MANY opinions on this. My main concern is the lack of rehabilitation for some of these children when they are released back into the world. It is almost as if they are set up for failure. I also know that the school to prison pipeline is very real, and that is something I will be tackling head-on in this next year.
The Realist Woman: You are a woman of faith. Has your faith played a role in where you are today and this new venture in your life?
Jessica Belle: Yes. Faith has played a major role in my current life simply because I fight to keep it, the same way I fight for the youth. When I operate in faith, I am taking it out of my hands and putting it in Gods. Releasing that control has allowed God to open doors without me getting in my own way.
The Realist Woman: Why is being a believer important to you?
Jessica Belle: Being a believer is everything. It is the foundation that I stand on and make all my decisions from. I know that without God I would never have the strength to do what I do.
The Realist Woman: What do you believe is your gift/talent that you want to share with the world?
Jessica Belle: The ability to see past what someone has done and meet them where they are at. It is a grace and compassion that I know only came from God.
The Realist Woman: You also have a military background. Is there anything from your military days that you apply to your life and current career/passion?
Jessica Belle: Patience and strength! My military days were the hardest of my life, but I learned that you are often much stronger than you think you are.
The Realist Woman: If there’s anything you want readers to know about you, your passions, your faith, your values, or anything, please share!
Jessica Belle: If I could tell anyone anything it would just be to be relentless about what God called you to do. Many trials will come and many things will try to throw you off your path. Don’t quit.
To find out how you can support the CASA organization, click here.
To find out how you can support the Angel Tree organization, click here.