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  • Hoboken Girl of the Week: Vanessa Clark {of Best Buddies International}

    There are few things we love more than giving a solid shout-out to those in the community who are taking their time to give back and help others. This week, we’re introducing you to Vanessa Clark — a volunteer rock-star on a mission. By day, she is an HR business partner in the beer industry, but by night is leading the opening of the first NJ office of Best Buddies International, which is an organization that helps create friendships, offer leadership opportunities, and helps place individuals with disabilities into successful careers. Inspired? You can help, too — under Vanessa’s leadership, Best Buddies has set out to raise $250,000 to open the NJ office, and on November 3rd, they’ll be hosting their Illuminate the Way inaugural gala at the Brownstone in NJ {get your tickets here!}.

    We chatted with Vanessa about her drive to help people and how that passion translated into a career — and of course, about her love for all things Hoboken. Meet our Hoboken Girl of the Week below:

    hoboken girl of the week, hoboken community, people of hoboken

    On what inspires her

    My family — my father and grandfather are entrepreneurs who built their own businesses from scratch. My mother is a world-champion equestrian. Growing up with very little, they were dedicated and hard-working. They taught me that if you work hard, aren’t afraid of sacrifice, and give back, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

    There is a quote on the wall on at the University of Scranton, where I went to business school that I think about daily. It reads, “Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.

    Her goals for this year + her passions

    My goal is to lead the way to establish the very first Best Buddies state office in New Jersey. There is an enormous resource that as a society, especially in New Jersey, is not being addressed: unemployment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities {IDD}. There is not enough support in place throughout New Jersey to help those with IDD succeed in the workforce and society. Currently in NJ, we have an unemployment rate of approximately 87% with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities {such as autism and down syndrome}. Having a Best Buddies office in NJ will change the lives of thousands in our state with and without disabilities, create school cultures where students will see everyone for their abilities, and place individuals with disabilities into careers to be able to work alongside others in our communities, earning a paycheck, paying taxes and realizing the rewards and pride that come from having a passion.

    I will not rest until we can change NJ.

    A “typical” day in the life

    Every day is so different for me and that’s what I love. For my day job, I get to travel to breweries across NY, Connecticut, and Florida. I usually find myself in a different state daily! When I get home from a day at the brewery, I always try to make time to go to the gym. I prefer running outside in the summer. After I do this, I jump on the computer and back to working on Best Buddies effort. I truly dedicate time every night and all weekends to share my mission.

    Her greatest career highlight… so far

    About two years back, I had the chance to do some work in Cali, Columbia. We worked with the indigenous communities to ensure people had clean drinking water/germ protection. As a result of the project, I was asked to attend a United Nations Meeting in Colombia and even got the chance to speak. I will never forget that.

    What she does on her days off

    Drink some of those amazing craft beers that we work so hard on during the week. I also like to torture myself with exercise classes that kick my butt, and hanging out with friends.

    Her advice for pursuing a satisfying career

    Choosing a job or a passion solely for money is like choosing a marriage because you liked the wedding ring. If you let hard work and passion drive your career, the rest will fall into place.

    hoboken girl of the week, hoboken community, people of hoboken

    Hoboken Favorites

    Favorite restaurant:

    The Cuban in Hoboken! I love to go there especially when it’s snowing/rainy because I feel like I am instantly transported to a tropical place {the music and the margaritas also help with that}.

    Favorite boutique:

    Town House on Washington, but I do my fair share to support them all.

    Favorite thing about Hoboken:

    The parking! Haha!

    In all seriousness, I love the fact it feels like both a small town and a city. It truly is the best of both worlds. I’ve lived here for four years. I took a quick break and moved to Morristown in 2015 but was instantly homesick for Hoboken and moved right back! I love there are always new people to meet and places to try, but it’s also common to run into familiar faces and become a regular at a local coffee shop.

    Favorite thing to do in Hudson County:

    I love taking a walk on the pathway that connects Hoboken and Jersey City. The skyline view is incredible from there.

    Favorite outdoor space:

    Pier A Park in Hoboken. It’s very peaceful.

    Favorite place to workout:

    Can I pick two? CKO Kickboxing is an intense but fun workout for classes. I also have a membership to the Planet Fitness on Washington which is great as my regular gym.

    Favorite spot to take friends:

    We love Bin 14, Stingray Lounge, and any great wine bar. More wine bars to Hoboken, please! We also like to hang out at the pier.

    What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?

    A Best Buddies office, of course! 🙂

     

    Want to be featured or nominate someone for as an upcoming Hoboken Girl of the Week? Email hello@hobokengirl.com about your story!


    Written by:

    Cait lived in Weehawken for three years before moving to Jersey City a year ago. Coming from a family of restaurateurs and chefs, Cait loves everything food-related. Her passion lies in connecting and learning about people through food, whether it’s cooking, eating at a local hole-in-the-wall, or serving a meal at a homeless shelter. During the day, Cait is an inventory planner at Macys. At night, you can find her at a new art opening, immersive theater, improv comedy show, or a live music venue.


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