Jeneece Edroff is a nineteen-year-old
philanthropist from Victoria, B.C. who is known to many on Vancouver Island as “the Penny Girl” for her fundraising efforts – she has been credited with raising more than $1.5 million through penny drives, beginning at age 7.
Jeneece has Neurofibromatosis Type One (NF1) and has undergone multiple surgeries due to the condition. Despite her struggles, she has always been determined to help others facing similar hardships.
Jeneece’s latest fundraising accomplishment was to create a home-like facility called Jeneece Place for families enduring medical treatments in Victoria. Dealing with a childhood illness is stressful for the entire family. Having a home away from home while undergoing medical treatment helps ease that stress for families.
Jeneece’s mother, Angie Edroff says, “Over the years when traveling to Vancouver for Jeneece’s medical care we spent a lot of time at the Ronald McDonald House. There were times we could not get a reservation there because the house was full. It was at these times that Jeneece mentioned that maybe we should help them build a new Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver.”
The Edroff family tried several times to make that happen, but they kept running into obstacles along the way. “When talking with some folks in Victoria, they asked Jeneece what she wanted to do next. She spoke about her wish to build a new Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver and the roadblocks. It was then that we learned that there was a need for such a house right here in Victoria.” To Jeneece, building a home in her own community that would serve the people on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands was far more than she could have dreamed of.
Jeneece Place opened its doors in January of 2012. It is a comfortable “home away from home” for families facing medical treatments at Victoria General Hospital. Jeneece created the floor plan of the house, for all three levels. The architect took those plans and did his best to put what she wanted into the house. This included a movie room, games room, and an arts and crafts room. The house is a 10,000 square foot, ten-bedroom facility. It has a very welcome and peaceful environment along with the many comforts of home. The house is decorated with artwork donated by local schools and artists, including a giant penny that Jeneece helped sculpt.
Jeneece is an ambassador in the house while a housemother is in charge of the house and all the volunteers. “On holidays we go and cook for all the families that are in the house at that time,” says Edroff.
The house took nine months to build and was built with the help of more than 2200 gifts, from a few dollars to $1 million. The Edroff family is looking to build another house on the island by the hospital. “Jeneece Place is now full more than fifty percent of the time so there is a need to build another one”. Jeneece also has dreams to build a house in Nanaimo. In addition to her fundraising for Jeneece Place, Jeneece has been involved in fundraising for the Easter Seal’s 24-hour Relay, the BCNF, BC Children’s Radiothon for the Kids, Cops for Cancer and is a Junior rider in the Tour de Rock.
Jeneece finished high school in June, 2012. She would like to become a Child Life Specialist and plans to help out at Camp Goodtimes, a camp for kids living with cancer, this summer. She also has dreams to volunteer at the local hospital. This fall Jeneece wants to start at Camosun College to further her learning. “She likes to play guitar, and is learning the ukulele,” says Edroff. Jeneece continues to face medical challenges due to her NF and will soon be undergoing yet another surgery, this time at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to remove a plexiform neurofibroma from her right leg.
For more information on Jeneece Place or to make a donation, please visit jeneeceplace.org.