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Acts of God

Jessica Marburger has experience with what insurance companies call Acts of God. “Flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, riptides. I have been through them all.”

Her body tells the story of Acts of God. When Jessica was 13, Hurricane Earl was touching down near her hometown of Port St. Lucie, Florida. She realized that her beagle Dottie was still outside, so she ran out into the wind and rain, slipped on her brick and wood steps, and crashed down as a tree from her yard toppled over onto her. She and Dottie were rescued by Jessica’s mom, but not before she broke her left arm, leaving her a lifelong scar.

Jessica danced on that line between courageous and reckless: “Four chipped vertebrae. Cut my head open. The scar on my right arm from the time a semi-truck his my car when I was six. All those injuries from the times when I was riding horses or in the back of pick-up trucks.”

After the Hurricane, Jessica’s parents decided Florida was no longer safe and settled in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Jessica began as a freshman at Coconino High School “I was shy. I liked to paint, play the guitar, garden, and take care of my animals: two pet iguanas and my Blue Great Dane, Tigerlily.”

Near the end of her Sophomore year, Jessica walked into a Flagstaff Walgreens with her boyfriend, Josh, bought a pregnancy test, and took it back to his house. When it was positive, she cried and Josh held her. “I thought my life was over. Everything I wanted and hoped to do is not going to happen.” She told her Mom that night, was adamant that she was keeping the baby. She left the next day, moving in with Josh at his parents’ home.

She dropped out of high school mid-way through her Junior year, but then her Mom told her about TAPP: her school district’s Teenage Parent Program, which helped her complete high school. “The teachers were wonderful and caring and accepting. They knew what we were going through and they genuinely wanted us to succeed. We had the regular classes, but we also took Early Childhood Education and Career Readiness, and they helped us get enrolled in different programs like insurance. They didn’t judge you. They were just there for support.”

On April 12th, 2003, Joseph “Joey” Michael Marburger was born, seven pounds and 12 ounces, at Flagstaff Medical Center. Jessica’s Father showed up to meet his grandson. “He broke down in tears, and said Joey was a gift from God. After that, the two were inseparable. Actually, when my Father passed, he left his entire collection to my son.”

By the time Joey was born, a TAPP counselor had connected Jessica with a local Head Start preschool. As soon as Joey was old enough, he began attending Head Start and Jessica began volunteering. Soon after, she left her job at Target to come work for Joey’s school as a Cook. She moved up over the next 12 years as Head Start helped pay for her college credits: Assistant Teacher, Teacher, Site Manager. Jessica and Josh got married in 2005, and baby Julia Marie Marburger arrived that September.

In 2019 Jessica’s husband accepted a relocation to Washington, and soon after Jessica joined VOA’s ECEAP Preschool team as a Program Manager.

“I feel like I’ve been where so many of them are. We didn’t have it easy. We had to struggle every day. We didn’t know, when our kids were younger, where our next meal was coming from or how to pay the bills. We’ve been on state insurance, on assistance. We’ve been to food banks in the past.”

“I love that we’re helping people. Not only our preschool students. We do so much more than educate our kids. We do so much for our families.”

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Jessica Marburger serves as the Program Manager of VOA’s ECEAP Trailside Preschool in Everett. Her story appears here as a part of our #IAmVOA campaign.

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