This is part of a series of stories by Kimmel, who's abandoned her car for a life of alternative transportation.
As I have spent the last seven months writing about transit issues in Indianapolis, I have also had the amazing pleasure of being a part of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program aimed at shaping community leaders. As my term has come to an end, the biggest thing I have gained from my year of service is a very tight-knit family of incredible people. Having this family makes the rest of this entry come from a unified voice, deeper and more genuine than my own.
I am, from this point forward, substituting the word "I" for "we," as I feel I am representing the group, not just speaking for myself.
At the beginning of Public Allies there is an orientation period for training and developing a unique team dynamic. As you can imagine, the first day was awkward when we sat down in a room full of people we didn't know. As we sat in silence, staring at one another, figuring out what to say and who was going to be the first to talk, Jessica Adkins (Jess) was that one person who took the initiative and instantly made the entire room comfortable.
With her funky painted fingernails and ever-changing hair color, Jess offered insight into things that few of us had experienced in our own lives. Her passion for women's rights and LGBTQI rights was apparent from the first conversation and she was never afraid to voice her opinions about these things.
Throughout the year, Jess proved that she was full of fight, ready to march for an issue she was passionate about, all the while fighting to improve herself. While she wasn't a stranger to the struggles that a lot of young adults deal with, she had a heart for service and it showed in everything she did.
During Public Allies, Jess served high school youth, helping them bridge the gap between high school and the "real world" that follows. Her passion for the job kept her busy, but we would get together on Fridays and she would always be the one to make us laugh until we cried, make us think about things differently than we were and would all around bring an energy of openness to the group.
Clearly Jess Adkins was an amazing woman, with big plans for her life, and it was fun getting to know her and see the drive in her eyes.
Sadly, last week we lost Jess.
As word traveled through the group, we gathered to mourn, but more to laugh and share stories of the Jess Adkins we knew and loved. The media came to interview us. The stories were all over the papers and news, but none seemed to do justice to our voice... the one we know Jess would want to be speaking.
I know I write a transit blog, but this week we wanted to share with you the Jess we knew. She was a real person, not just another segment on the evening news. She was an inspiration to us all and, as we continue to mourn, our memories will always be with us and we hope that others will be as inspired by her as we were.