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Home sweet home

Beckers’ philosophy on getting involved:?‘Why not us?’

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert Jenn Becker, an instructional coach at Butler Elementary School, sits in front of her home in the Oak Hill Historic District in Fort Dodge.

High school sweethearts Jenn and Luke Becker always knew they wanted to come back to their hometown to raise their family.

“It was never a question of ‘if’ we’d come back to Fort Dodge, it was ‘when,'” said Jenn Becker, a 2011 St. Edmond Catholic School graduate.

After Jenn Becker graduated from Iowa State University, she and husband, Luke, decided to plant their roots in the historic Oak Hill District of Fort Dodge.

“We looked into a few other communities, but ultimately decided this is where we wanted to be,” Jenn Becker said. “We knew we wanted to raise our kids around family. Both of our families are still here.”

Fort Dodge had exactly what Jenn Becker was looking for in a place to call “home.”

“It’s a sort of bigger-city feeling, but those small-town connections are still here, which is really cool,” she said.

Since the Beckers made their home in Fort Dodge in 2016, the pair has made it a priority to be an active part of the community here. The couple currently have two children, an 18-month-old son and a newborn baby boy.

Jenn Becker started as a first grade-teacher at Butler Elementary School in 2016. Now she helps support other teachers as an instructional coach at the school.

In 2017, Jenn and Luke Becker created the Shag the Drag run-walk race in downtown Fort Dodge to help support the local Meals on Wheels program.

Around the winter holidays, Dodgers can go “Christmas Caroling Through History” in the Oak Hill Historic District, an event the Beckers started in 2017 to celebrate the holidays and the history of the homes in the district.

“A lot of the times, selfishly, Luke and I will want to see great things happening, so we just kind of figure if someone else isn’t doing it, so why not us?” Jenn Becker said. “We live in a historical district, we love downtown, we love the initiatives that are happening down there to revitalize that, so we wanted to do our part to highlight some of the positive things we could. If we think of something that we want to see in the community, we feel the obligation to do our part to make it happen.”

Out of all the programs and projects and initiatives Jenn Becker is involved with in her hometown, her favorite is the Joy of Reading’s JOYMobile, a mobile little free library that, through sharing free books to children in the community, honors the memory of a St. Edmond student who passed away in 2011.

“It was started in memory of Emily Joy Averill, who was a classmate and friend of mine,” Jenn Becker said. “I love volunteer opportunities, so for that one it really hits my professional passion and my personal. As a teacher, I have a passion for books and getting kids to read, seeing the excitement on their faces. So being able to organize events and bring the Joy Mobile out into the community to get books to kids is really exciting.”

With concerns over COVID-19 this spring, the JOYMobile hasn’t been able to be as active with community events as the organization has been in the past. However, Jenn Becker said, the JOYMobile has been doing its best to stock the free-standing little free libraries around town and help get books into the hands of kids during this time.

“Even though we couldn’t get the JOYMobile out and have contact with the kids, we made sure they were stocked and got the word out,” Jenn Becker said. “We were excited when we went around for a second wave, they needed to be refilled, which is a good sign — the kids were finding them and taking them home to read.”

While she settles in with a new bundle of joy at home, Jenn Becker continues to brainstorm more ways to stay involved and positively impact her hometown.

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