A life of service to others

HOME profile (Download Image) Lawrence Livermore project controls analyst and veteran Jennifer Vollbrecht volunteers for the United Way of San Joaquin County. Photos by Kate Hunts/LLNL

Editor's Note: During the Helping Others More Effectively (HOME) Campaign, Public Affairs will run a series of articles about Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees who volunteer for various nonprofit agencies.


All her life, Jennifer Vollbrecht has been committed to service. Her dedication has taken her from her hometown in Manteca to Iraq and back again. But no matter what the circumstances, the mission to help others over self always remains.

Growing up, Vollbrecht had wanted to become a Marine. After joining at 18, she would go on to become the seventh female CH-46E helicopter crew chief, a mechanic and a door gunner. Only three years into her career, she was nominated by the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing for Navy League Association Enlisted Woman of the Year in 2007, and received a Certificate of Commendation for her superior performance as a crew chief.

Her desire to help others was strengthened during her tour in Iraq. "We did humanitarian work including casualty evacuations. We picked up the wounded whether they were an enemy, friendly or civilian. Anybody that was hurt, we took to the hospital. That was my first exposure to others over self," said Vollbrecht, a project controls analyst in Operations and Business (O&B).

After the military, Vollbrecht returned home to Manteca where she now volunteers for the United Way of San Joaquin County (UWSJC). Since 1926, the United Way of San Joaquin County has raised more than $100 million to help children and youth achieve their education potential, help families become financially independent and address health needs. The nonprofit has several community councils throughout the county to address the needs specific to their areas from Tracy to Lodi. Vollbrecht has spent the past three years on the council overseeing Manteca, Lathrop, Escalon and Ripon.



"I feel a sense of community with fellow veterans, and assistance to my community at home with the folks I grew up with. As I was serving in the Marines, I realized that helping others is something I enjoy doing. I enjoy the camaraderie, and I feel like I get a lot out of it, just as much as the recipients do."

Every year the council hosts a Flapjack Fundraiser in the spring and their Evening of Wine, Chocolate and Art event in the fall. In 2016, the group awarded $24,100 in grants to organizations such as the Second Harvest Food Bank, United Cerebral Palsy and Mary Graham Children’s Shelter.

"The community councils in San Joaquin are a really good group of people. They’re my friends and my peers; I really enjoy working with them. In the aspect of giving, we choose a really diverse group of charities to benefit from us. When we do the check presentations, everyone has a story about what this is going for and whom it’s going to affect directly. You can feel it. There’s a lot of emotion and people who are so passionate about their cause."



"Jennifer has joined our United Way of San Joaquin County for numerous events and activities and at every occasion she has done us proud. She stands tall and helps everyone see how very special our veterans are," said UWSJC CEO and fellow door gunner veteran Andy Prokop. "Jennifer’s time spent as a volunteer for our United Way community council in Manteca/Lathrop helps us improve lives in these communities every day."

Service to others also runs in the Vollbrecht family. Jennifer’s husband, Nathan, is a firefighter in Stockton and a Marine veteran. They have two children, Bradley, 1, and Natalie, 3. "Natalie said she wants to be a firefighter when she grows up," Vollbrecht said. "Service runs in our blood."