Jen Yontz-Orlando, MBA, MLIS

Writer – Researcher – Podcaster – Photographer

My MISSION is to create a healing environment and writing framework for chronic pain and mental health sufferers. To this end, I help people share their deep life stories with dignity, compassion, understanding, and beauty. Then, we release these stories with kindness and gratitude- and with our newfound perspective, we create productive and healthy new stories that benefit all life.

Academic Degrees

  • Library and Information Science, Masters, Valdosta State University, 2014.                        Capstone Project: Bibliotherapy for Mental Health.
  • Business Administration, Masters, Ohio University, 2004. 
  • Journalism, Bachelors, Loyola University, New Orleans, 1990.

Published Work

  • Yontz-Orlando, Jennifer. “Community Engagement through Bibliotherapy: Three Models,”   Works in Progress Poster Session. Association for Library and Information Science Education Annual Conference, 2017, January, Atlanta, GA.
  • Yontz-Orlando, Jennifer. “Bibliotherapy for Mental Health,” The International Research in Education Journal, 2017. International Research in Higher Education.
  • Bolilla – Short story fiction New Orlean’s Critical and Creative Arts Publication (CCAP) literary magazine ReVisions, 1994.

Community Leadership

  • Current – Chronic Illness Support Leader for Lee Health Systems, Lee Co, Florida
  • Current  – Florida National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Family Group Leader and Trainer
  • 2012 – 2015 National Alliance Mental Illness (NAMI) – Lee Co, Fl Board Member
  • 2012 – Visuality- Founding Board Member – Support for LBGT youth in Lee Co, Florida                              

 Awards 

  • Exceptional  Meritorious Volunteer and Leader, National Alliance on Mental Illness,              (NAMI), Lee, Charlotte, and Glades County, 2015. 
  • ALA Spectrum Scholar, American Library Association, 2013. 

Spiritual Quest

Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Yoga, Celtic Shamanic and Al-Anon

Yoga Instructor in the “I AM YOGA” method – Amrit Yoga – Kundalini Lakulish Lineage of Swami Kripalu

Travels throughout the world include Europe, South America, the far East (Japan), Sivananda Ashrams, and Risho-Ko-Se-Kai, a Japanese-Buddhist Sangha headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.  

Library of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Jen’s Top 5 Strengths
Gallup Strength Finder

Languages

Jen's
Artist Statement

                                           “When Time Coalesces”

I rejoice to see the smallest affirmation and encouragement given to others bloom into hope and valor.

When this happens, time seems to coalesce, and everything in the world zooms in on that magic moment.

It’s a great wonder when a trifling gesture or event-like cleaning a child’s dirty face, an unexpected letter from a long-lost friend,

The taste of English tea and biscuits with a British uncle or a certain book mysteriously appears by your front door exactly when needed,

These tiny moments can transform our darkest, despairing, and dejected hour into a fresh, glistening, sweet sunrise.

These are moments of Divine Grace and Deep Divinity. It amazes me when this happens- and it does happen. I’ve seen this happen.

My obsession is to document these shuttering and fleeting frames of time and space for myself and anyone else who wants to see.

Identity - Hope, Love & Compassion - Brain Science 

Jen’s central theme is the question of individual and group identity, including culture, class, language, religion, sexuality, beauty standards, work, and family. She is fascinated by how these categories can tear us brutally apart but at other times draw us together in deep devotion.

She is also intrigued by what happens when we lose our individual identity- for instance, when we are at a family dinner, look across the table and find we are among strangers. It’s an empty feeling to perceive those around you that you expect to be closest as hollow. Sometimes you might even wonder who they really are. And then, you might ask, “Who Am I?” 

Jen wants to learn how we can come back from loss, adversity and failure to build a new identity. She questions how one dares to hope that we might ever belong again. Jen believes that the only way home is through the transformational power of mercy and compassion- when we reach out and extend our hands in trust without fear of rebuke or admonishment. Then we can be willing take the chance that maybe, one day, we can finally be friends and whole again. 

Jen is also obsessed with brain science and how this vital organ and its varied conditions impacts mental health, addictions, and physical pain.

Podcast Project - Heal Me!

In conjunction with OneC Productions, Jen is working on a podcast series about her life called Heal Me!  In the podcast, Jen talks about the ups and downs she’s experienced, including mental and physical hardships, and how she finally found her true life’s purpose again in writing. Heal Me! releases in early 2022. 

Literary Project - "Tom and Phil" 

Jen is currently writing a  book that chronicles her father’s (Phil Yontz) short life as an identical twin from a small, rural, all-white town at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in South Eastern Ohio.

At the age of 18, on the way back to Ohio State University where was studying as a freshman, Phil experienced the violent and tragic death of his twin in a car crash that left four people dead and the community in tatters. Although Phil also suffered severe physical and emotional scars from "the accident" he never gave up hoping and searching for the best new life possible. 

Jen travels to where her father was raised and learns how this event not only changed the trajectory of her father's life, but also many in the community as well. While on this journey, Jen learns the true meaning of love, understanding and compassion for the father she now mourns. 

Future Projects

Jen is looking forward to creating an online writing community for people suffering from chronic illness wishing to write about their experiences for deep fellowship and mental and physical pain relief.

Early Life  

From birth, Jen bounced between her family’s farms in rural Ohio and her wealthy maternal grandparents in Cali, Colombia. She is Spanish-speaking and bi-cultural. Jen attended 13 schools by the time she graduated from high school, which created many complications for her as a young person.

While academically inclined, she experienced severe difficulties with socialization in school and college, including bullying, authority issues with teachers and professors, which led to heavy drinking as a young adult. These are experiences she discusses in her writing. 

Mid-Life

Jen married her high-school sweetheart soon after college and found being a wife and mother fulfilling but challenging.  While spending long days on the road helping build up the family cleaning business into a multi-million dollar company, she also dealt with a difficult-to-raise son. He had undiagnosed bipolar disorder as a child that eventually morphed into schizophrenia. He now lives with Jen and her husband and two fur-babies, Ruby and Finn, in Ft. Myers, Fl.             

Late-Life 

After many years of living a life that was not in tune with her true nature, Jen is finally looking forward to all the beautiful life experiences and fascinating people the world has to offer. She now document life's beauty through her many creative and artistic endeavors. 

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