Savor K-County: Jeri Purdy

When I started the Savor K-County column, one of the benefits of living in Kosciusko County that I wanted to highlight was its people. While the county has many lakes and beaches to enjoy, excellent restaurants, innovative and unique businesses and fun activities, its most prominent resource, its people, is what makes it so great.

One of those people is Jeri Purdy. If you’ve been involved in any of the amazing non-profit work going on behind the scenes in Kosciusko County, chances are good that you’ve met Jeri. PTO president and non-profit executive director are just a couple of the roles Jeri fills behind the scenes. Add to that being a wife and mother of four young girls and the number of hours in a day suddenly don’t appear to be enough. How does she do it? She has that planning thing down pat.

Purdy Family

Jeri joined Intercession Group in 2016 as an event manager and advanced into the executive director position in 2017. Not only is she an excellent planner but she is also passionate about her community and building meaningful relationships. Prior to her time with Intercession Group, she owned an event management company. Jeri resides in Winona Lake with her husband and four daughters. When she’s not planning events around the area, she is relaxing on the lake, contributing to her church or spending time with family.

PTO president, non-profit director, speaker, event planner, mother, wife – just a few of the roles you play in your everyday life. How do you balance your family responsibilities with your community concerns?

What I’ve learned is balance doesn’t exist but boundaries do. I am not at all an expert on this. In fact, I am a forever student at refining and growing the process of setting boundaries, prioritizing and remembering that saying “no” is the biggest blessing. No comes after going through filter of my top priorities (faith, Family, health), then my passions and gifts. These filters give me the best “yeses.” Otherwise, I end up frustrated and burnt out. Oh, have I been there. I’ve learned the lesson of saying yes to a LOT of great things but not being nearly as effective and present as I should have been for my family or the causes I was representing.

GLS 2019 (33 of 73)
Jeri on the stage at GLS 2019

Over the last year this has been my intentional focus and I have enlisted the help of an Executive Business Coach. He has lead me through evaluating and eliminating, understanding my giftings and then writing down my life mission statement. Operating from this mindset lets me filter through requests and makes it easier to say no to the areas that aren’t 100% in my areas of gifts, talents or focus. It’s not easy but has been a huge blessing. This process has proven that no isn’t as scary as I thought and that no can lead to an even bigger and better yes in the future.

From a family standpoint, I hope to model what being a part of community looks like. I have 4 young ladies looking at me as their female role model. I don’t want to just tell my girls to be kind, good leaders, servant hearted and big dreamers; I have to live it out for them to see, experience and hopefully step into for themselves.

Jeri with her four daughters

Is there ever fear of your non-profit work exacting a cost of caring that you’re not willing to pay anymore? If not, how do you prevent that from happening?

There’s more of a fear that doing nothing and not addressing g the needs of our community with forever alter the legacy left by us as residents and leaders. Being engaged and involved has been modeled well by so many and the generous spirit of this community is like no other but we can’t call it done there. I love seeing others get engaged, collaborating and deciding to make an impact. When our kids or our grandkids look back, I want them to see leaders willing to step out to make a difference and that the personal sacrifices were small in comparison to the impact made.

What advice would you offer to others looking to get involved with a local non-profit?

There are 3 pieces of advice.

1. Understand your passions and talents. Don’t commit to something that is way out of your scope just because it’s a compelling cause. Set yourself and the organization up for success by being real about your talents and passions.

2. Start small but be consistent. Small acts done consistently over time make the biggest impact.

3. Don’t wait for the perfect time because it doesn’t exist. We are all juggling numerous demands with the same set of days and hours to get it all done, we just need to use those filters to get us to the yeses we need in our lives.

OK, time to play favorites. It’s date night and you and your husband have to choose a restaurant in Kosciusko County – which one are you going to? Any favorite dishes or drinks?

Picking one place in Kosciusko County is so hard! We are incredibly blessed to have such a diverse restaurant scene. When Matt and I go out lots of times we will chose to do drinks and appetizers at one spot and our meal and dessert at another. One to get all the fabulous food but two to support as much local as possible.

The place that feels most like home for us is One Ten Craft Meatery. I joke that it’s our modern day, more upscale Cheers. We love their approach to hospitality and supporting local farmers. Our go to’s are an Old Fashioned, charcuterie block, Tomahawk Steak and of its on the menu cheesecake. What I love most about One Ten is that you don’t have to be in the restaurant for a great experience. They take as much care for a to-go order or an order on the plaza during the summer as they do if you are sitting right in their dining area. Customer service is big in my book and they merely just check all the boxes, they embody service and excellence.

How important is it for members of our community to support locally-owned restaurants and businesses?

“When I’m out and say where I’m from people say, “oh you live in that beautiful resort town. I love______!” and they share a locally owned business that keeps them coming back.”

The local business drives growth and innovation for our community. With my husband and his business partner now being one of those to take the leap and join the other local business owners, it has new meaning to us. These business owners are not only living their passions but providing for a better future for all of us. It’s not just about being able to shop, eat and experience, but rather recognizing that these local owners are trailblazers! Look at downtown Warsaw and the change that has happened in the last 5 years. When I’m out and say where I’m from people say, “oh you live in that beautiful resort town. I love______!” and they share a locally owned business that keeps them coming back. We know the history and that our beautiful community was built by courageous leaders in the spaces of orthopedics and agribusiness. Those leaders blazed the way for this new wave of local business owners and it’s exciting to think about the future in K-County.

What’s the thing you appreciate the most about raising your children in the Warsaw/Winona Lake area?

Our family moved into Winona Lake 2 years ago after spending 8 years on Little Tippy. It was hard to leave a home we loved and where we spent the early years raising our 4 girls. We knew it was the right move as we were driving into Winona Lake/Warsaw 3-4 times for our kiddos to attend Jefferson and be engaged with that community.

“We joke we live in a Winona Lake Hallmark movie. It’s not just about the beauty and access to trails, the lake and wonderful shops, it’s really about the people.”

The last 2 years have been nothing short of incredible. We joke we live in a Winona Lake Hallmark movie. It’s not just about the beauty and access to trails, the lake and wonderful shops, it’s really about the people. The teachers that stop by on their evening walks, the neighbors that bring you homemade goodies, the shop owners that know your names, the crossing guard that shows up rain, snow or sunshine. The people make this community great and we’re honored to be living and working beside them everyday.

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