Jody and Jim
When I was in my early teens, my Mom took me to a show called Up With People (UWP) in a nearby town. I was a huge fan of the show and thought when I grow up, I would like to join UWP. As time went on I focused on other pursuits after high school. For some reason the theme song of UWP stuck in my long term memory and Jody was a little surprised when I was able to sing it to her when we first discussed doing their interview. Jody and Jim met through Up With People.
Started in 1965, Up With People is a program open to youth aged 17-29 that brings people together from different mindsets, cultures, ethnicities and beliefs.
After training at the headquarters in Denver, the youth travel to nearly 20 communities across two or three continents, spending about one week in each community. Each week, they live with a local host family, participate in service projects, learn about various cultures through educational workshops, and perform in Up with People’s musical stage production. The goal is “to teach young people how to interact in a multi-cultural environment and create change in communities with varying needs.”
Jim, 21 flew from his home in Indiana to Arizona to begin training for Up with People and the first person he met at the airport was Jody, a 20 year old from Washington State. There were 500 people at the training session which lasted six weeks. In their cast, there were youth from 25 countries.
Jody jokes that Jim dated just about everyone in their group first–Jody says 10 and Jim says 4 or five. Dating was limited because they were on the bus touring and it meant that you sat beside them on the bus and hung out together. They went home at Christmas, and when they came back, Jim says that ‘s when he fell in love with Jody.
Jody, Jim and one other guy became close friends and Jody remembers saying,
One of highlights of their time with UWP was doing the half time show at the Super Bowl in 1981. The real highlight was Jody’s and Jim’s first kiss in Lemmon, South Dakota after a show at a high school and they kissed in a classroom. They spent six months together touring Europe with shows every two or three days. After their time with the traveling show, they were hired on as staff and spent the summer working at Sea World in Florida doing five shows a day.
In the fall, they both returned to their studies at university–Jim in Indiana and Jody in Washington. Jim and Jody had a long distance relationship for two years during which time Jim wrote Jody every single day. Judy wrote once a month. At that time, there were no cell phones and long distance calls were a big deal. Jody lived in a Sorority and whenever she got a phone call, they would make a public announcement, “Jody, long distance on line two.” and all the girls would squeal with excitement and want to know what was the latest.
Jim graduated and moved up to Tacoma, Washington where he got his first full time job while waiting for Jody to finish her degree in dental hygiene.
Jim couldn’t decide whether he should ask Jody to marry him or go to the opening night of the first Rambo movie. Jim had asked Jody’s father for permission beforehand. He decided he could do both–the movie and the proposal, so he asked Jody to marry him in her bedroom in her parents’ home and then Jim and her whole family went to the movie.
Jody was able to use her Grandmother’s diamond in her ring which made it extra special. They settled in Tacoma, Washington and raised two sons and now have a granddaughter.
Jody and Jim were friends first and when they first started dating they were together 16 hours a day with 123 other people. While they were traveling they saw each other’s highs and lows. The environment wasn’t real–in their words it was like a cocoon where they were sheltered from the outside world. They took their time once they left UWP to get to know one another. They created a strong bond which stead them well in their relationship.
For 31 years, Jim’s job has taken him on the road and if they didn’t have trust in one another their marriage would never have lasted. They continue to enjoy each other’s company–Jim says “We have a ball together. Yes, a relationship is work but it’s fun work if you have a good marriage.”
Currently, in keeping with the philosophy from Up With People of giving back to the global community, they created Hardwick Dental Teams and their team of 12 have provided dental services to the Masai people in Kenya and they are planning to return in 2022. If you would like to assist them or find out more, you can go to hardwickdentalteams.org