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Meet the family: Jared Ipsen, Comms Coordinator

Jared has been with Zeal for the past few years and is the hardest working and most valuable and handsome member of the team. I interviewed myself to find out how I got started in the game, and what my goals are for the year ahead.

How did you first get involved with Zeal?

Jared: When I was in high school, I played in a few hardcore bands. Because I live in a farming town in the middle of an island at the bottom of the world, surprisingly, there weren’t many people that would let a group of 15 year olds play screaming devil music in their venue.

After a few years of putting on shows in community halls and churches, we connected with the Zeal crew in Auckland. They told us about their $2 Mean As Thursdays shows they were putting on in the tiniest, sweatiest, loudest room in their entire venue, so, naturally, we had to come and play.

Seeing a venue run by youth, for youth blew me away. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was exactly the kind of space that I dreamt of having in my teenage years, and I knew we had to have one in our city.

When the idea for Zeal was first floated in Hamilton, a friend of mine’s dad was on the committee, so I got to go along to a few meetings in the planning stage. A few years later when the center was finally opened, me and the bro put a bunch of shows on until one day Brook Turner convinced me to quit my full time job and come and work for Zeal.

After a year of putting on 50+ shows, I took the role of Comms Coordinator, so I could try catch up on some of the sleep I lost in 2016.

What does your typical day at Zeal look like?

Jared: I usually start my day with a coffee from GG’s with Lehi, then we head in to Zeal to yell excitedly at each other in the Hams office, with a little work getting done in between.

I spend 90% of my time at work on the computer, writing blogs, keeping the website updated, accidentally breaking the code and frantically trying to fix it, replying to emails and eating bread.

The other 10% of the time you can find me behind the sound desk at a show pretending I know how to work it, taking photos of Zeal activities on the auto setting of the camera, and avoiding work at SL28.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get in to youth work?

Jared: It is at all times going to be simultaneously the best and hardest times of your life. Days will be spent in a whirlwind of insanity. You’ll forget what day it is. Sleep with become a foreign concept to you. You’ll forget to eat. You’ll share laughter, noodles and tears with the young people that come through the door every day.

Through everything, always hold on to why you’re doing what you’re doing. It can be really easy to get caught up in the day to day and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Look after yourself. Drink more water. Spend more time with the people you love.

What do you fill your time with outside of Zeal?

Jared: I don’t think there’s such thing as time outside of Zeal, but when I’m physically outside of the building, I’m either at home with my wonderful fiancee, singing with my famous world renowned band Barracks, watching unhealthy amounts of The Office, and drinking dangerous amounts of coffee.

What are some great memories you have from your time at Zeal?

Jared: We’ve had so many huge moments at Zeal Hamilton over the past few years – but the best times, for me, have been those small moments of conversation and connection with the young people that call our building home.

Working mostly online can be quite isolating, but even just talking about their day or raiding the kitchen cupboards or going for van drives to the servo are times that remind me why I do what I do.

What are your plans for Zeal in 2018?

Jared: After a year of trying to figure out what exactly a Communications Coordinator does, I want to spend this year making Zeal look amazing online with everything that I’ve learned so far. More blogs, more photos, more videos, to be an extra on Shortland Street. That’s not a Zeal goal, just a personal dream of mine.

Read more from the crew:

“The thing that amazes me the most about the Zeal team is their single minded passion to make a difference in the lives of young people. A lot of people go through their life asking “what’s in it for me,” but the Zeal team ask “what can I do for others”. “

“Listening to your young people is always a must. Sometimes young people aren’t looking for answers. They just want someone to be present and listen.