2019 Young Alumni Inspiration Award recipient: Jennifer Martin

Meet Jennifer Martin

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Jennifer Martin
Jennifer Martin, Executive Director, We Are Home Free (MDP 2014, Development Practice)

Jennifer Martin is an individual who has dedicated herself to improving the lives of others. Her work is marked by compassion, humility and perseverance. She resolutely strives to make a positive impact in Canada and around the world.

Prior to graduating from the University of Waterloo’s Master of Development Practice (MDP) program in 2013, Jennifer obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from The University of Western Ontario. Studying at Waterloo allowed Jennifer to become a practitioner in international development.

“The program as a whole strengthened my understanding and ability to implement sustainable, innovative programs for social change with meaningful, lasting impact.”

Ultimately, the program allowed her to professionalize her work and role as the Executive Director of the Registered Canadian Charity Home Free, which she founded in 2012. Home Free is working to transform the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. In Uganda, over 55,000 children are growing up in orphanages. Nearly all have family. By creating family care for children, supporting those living in poverty, and building safe communities, Home Free is demonstrating that family care is possible for highly vulnerable children.

Home Free supports over 4,000 children and 1,300 parents and guardians. The charity keeps families together, reunites children with their parents where possible and finds loving, foster families for children whose own parents can’t be found. Jennifer’s work not only impacts these southern Ugandan communities, but also supports the global movement toward a family care model to meet child development, uphold children's rights, and create healthier societies. She is highly respected in both her Canadian and Ugandan communities for a commitment to listening and learning first, followed by collaboration and action. The relationships Jennifer has forged in Uganda and around the world have helped to bring  systemic and practical changes within the communities where she works.

Since founding Home Free seven years ago, Jennifer has continued to dedicate thousands of volunteer hours, while also continuing her work in Indigenous communities. As a public health nurse, she has been responsible for the tuberculosis program in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, as well as planning and implementing public health programs for First Nations' communities in British Columbia. These programs include immunization clinics, infectious disease management, and mother-baby wellness clinics.

Jennifer also volunteers with the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) and previously sat on the board of directors for Thrive. Jennifer is someone who recognizes a need, identifies solutions, and takes the necessary steps to make a meaningful difference. She represents the courage, passion, and dedication that is needed to create positive and lasting change.

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