Jessica Montesi is the Federal Way Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for March for the work she does making sure senior citizens have a memorable Christmas. Jessica Keller, the Mirror

Jessica Montesi is the Federal Way Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for March for the work she does making sure senior citizens have a memorable Christmas. Jessica Keller, the Mirror

Todd Beamer graduate gives back to community by providing gifts to senior citizens

Federal Way’s Advancing Leadership program spurred Jessica Montesi into action.

For Jessica Montesi, helping those in need is a huge part of her work and personal life.

The 2006 Todd Beamer High School graduate and Federal Way-area resident owns Braveheart Construction and Remodel with her husband, Brandon.

“We do remodel and additions and just standard general contracting work, but we also have a contract with the VA [Veterans Administration], and we do accessibility remodels for people with disabilities,” Montesi said. “We install lift equipment to where they can independently get out of bed, get out of their chair and use the bathroom. It kind of turned into a passion for disabled people, the vets and the elderly. It really just kind of grew from there.”

While enrolled in Federal Way’s Advancing Leadership program in 2015, Montesi saw the need to serve senior citizens in local care facilities.

“We had servant leadership day at Hallmark Manor where we went in and decorated for Christmas,” she said. “I had talked with a few of the staff members there just to see what Christmas looked like for them. It was really somber. They said there used to be people that donated … They said ‘we don’t have that anymore,’ so it became a burden for staff members to pick a person there or buy something for that person.”

The experience spurred Montesi into action.

“It broke my heart,” she said. “I went back to the (Advancing Leadership) class and just asked if anybody wanted to contribute financially or if anybody wants to adopt a person.”

At first, Montesi told Hallmark Manor the class would adopt 10 of its residents.

“I thought ‘I can’t do that,’ ” she said. “It’s Christmas, and they are alone.”

The first year, Montesi and others in her class gave gifts to 110 residents. The second year, they expanded to Life Care Center of Federal Way and Life Care Center of Puyallup, delivering presents to 400 seniors.

“They are just forgotten, and I wanted them to know that not everybody forgot,” Montesi said.

Montesi reaches out to her fellow Advancing Leadership alumni and others in the community for support. Top contributors to Montesi’s efforts include Keller Williams Reality Puget Sound; Grace Church in Federal Way, which Montesi and her family attend; and South King Fire & Rescue.

Montesi gets a list of residents from each facility and ideas of gifts they want or need and what they can’t have.

“Every single person gets an individualized gift that we purchase for them based on their needs and wants list,” she said. “Everybody gets a gift bag that has a bunch of stuff that I have collected over the year – toiletries, socks, individually wrapped treats, soft plush blankets.”

Montesi recruits her children – Avery, 4, Riley, 6, and Wyatt, 12 – to deliver the gifts.

“We go to each of the Christmas parties,” she said. “I bring my kids and a few of my friends’ kids, and the kids take (the gifts) to each individual resident and hand them out and wish them a Merry Christmas and visit with them.”

Both the residents and the children enjoy the visits.

“It starts out as kind of a novelty of ‘how sweet, I have this gift that I get to open,’ ” Montesi said. “But, it’s the interaction, and they look and realize it is something that they needed or wanted. They are just so really grateful for it. It is really fun to watch.”

Montesi’s children look forward to delivering the gifts each year.

“As we start to get toward Christmastime they say ‘are we doing the grandmas and the grandpas this year?’ They look forward to it. They assemble bags with us,” she said.

Sharon Lucas, activities director at Hallmark Manor, said she is grateful for Montesi’s work.

“She is so easy to work with,” Lucas said. “She is so kind. She is so caring. I look forward to it. I don’t have to worry about my residents having a good Christmas because she is helping me. Some of our residents don’t have anything. They have no family. Some of them have been homeless.”

Lucas said she is impressed by the detail Montesi puts into the gifts she selects for residents.

“She gets personalized to where one lady likes coloring books, so she got coloring books and a coloring set,” Lucas said. “For one of my gentlemen, she got an art set so he could paint.”

Montesi said she enjoys giving back to the community where she grew up.

“I have to work, so it might as well be rewarding, and if I can combine income with impact, I just feel like everybody wins,” she said. “In narrowing down what I do with work and in my personal life, I just feel like there is a lot of overlap. Not all of them are disabled for the Christmas project that we do, but my heart was kind of there because of where my work leads me and the people that it impacts. I see what a difference it makes.”

Do you know someone you think should be recognized as Citizen of the Month? Send your nominations and reason why they should be honored to editor@federalwaymirror.com.

More in Life

‘Talk to Me’ draws from real life

The view from above was stunning. The cliché says that people look… Continue reading

You’ll want to hang tight when reading ‘The New Iberia Blues’

Your hand is deep in a bucket of crunchy goodness. Without popcorn,… Continue reading

This book is loaded with both controversy and solutions

First shift begins in early morning. You hit work then, and run… Continue reading

Learn about favorite writers in ‘A Sidecar Named Desire’

The holiday season started with a cup of cheer. Then there was… Continue reading

You don’t have to like it, but you will

You don’t have to like it. That’s the way it is with… Continue reading

Converting non-believers at May May Hong Kong BBQ

Slabs of pork, full ducks turning lazily on their hooks, glistening in the glow of a heat lamp.

Prepare to dive into the inner workings of a library

The possibilities seem endless. Row upon row of books awaits you, each… Continue reading

Tacoma City Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ coming to Federal Way

Enjoy sugar plum teas before every matinee performance.

This book is sure to put you in the Christmas mood

You thought you knew what was inside the box. Though it was… Continue reading

Science-minded readers will love ‘Never Home Alone’

Ahhhhh, a quiet night at home. You’ve been promising yourself that for… Continue reading

‘Hidden Gems: Sister City 25th Anniversary Photo Exhibit’ showcases art from Japan, Federal Way

Federal Way Arts Commission to host opening ceremony on Nov. 29 of the week-long exhibit.