Meet the Team - Jenny Herrera, Executive Director
Posted on March 21st, 2019 at 10:53AM
Part-time book-keeper wanted for new charity.
This was the announcement tucked away in the church bulletin of St. Michael le Belfrey Church in York at the end of summer 2009. That was not actually my church and I was busy adapting to life as a mother and recovering from an emergency Caesarean!
However, someone we knew saw that bulletin and called me, knowing that both my husband (a book-keeper) and myself (a chartered accountant) were looking for work and opportunities were limited following the 2008 global recession. My husband is Guatemalan and I had met him there whilst serving as a missionary for the charity Kids Alive International. We married in 2006 but during 2008 felt it was right to leave the work and move back to the UK.
This was very much God's timing as to the human eye it looked like the very worst time to try and find work in the UK. However, just two years later, the immigration rules changed such that the only way for my husband to join me would be for me to already be earning £18,000 a year. When we left Guatemala I was already pregnant with our son so had those rules already been in place, it is likely we would not have been able to come home.
We were faced with an uphill struggle, however, to find work and our friend knew this when she saw that bulletin. I called the number she gave me and was told that actually it was to do with the Archbishop of York and that I should email his wife! I dutifully sent off my CV and when Margaret Sentamu discovered I had a three week old baby, she said I couldn't possibly come to the Palace. She would come to me!
The memory is vivid of preparing our small house for the Archbishop's wife - and of my husband keeping our son, Jonathan, quiet upstairs whilst I had an interview for the role of Acts 435 Administrator.
That day started an incredible journey for me. The role at Acts 435 enabled us to stay in York (where I grew up and have the support of my parents) and has been the absolutely perfect role for me especially once it turned into Executive Director in January 2011. My heart and passion is to serve the poor, and on returning to the UK I was faced with the reality of UK poverty and this opportunity to make a difference and partner with my other passion: the local church!
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Psalm 16:6
Acts 435 also introduced me to its founding trustee, Julian Richer, a truly inspiring man with a big heart. In 2012 he approached me about setting up a new charity, to help victims of anti-social behaviour. I was 8 months pregnant at the time with my daughter, Gabriela, and refused the offer to get involved, but at the second time of asking, a few months later, I embraced the opportunity for something new, with flexible hours around my children.
That has been another adventure taking me right into the Home Office and onto its ASB Strategic Board. It has provided me with another way to make a difference for people in this country as well as taking me on a really steep learning curve!
When not juggling two charities and two children, I am heavily involved in my local church, Gateway Church in Acomb where I play the piano, co-lead a home group with my husband and have recently had the privilege of preaching and leading services.
I feel blessed beyond measure and take very seriously Jesus' words:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48