A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Jess Drwal

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Jess Drwal

After working as a truck driver for Amazon in Elmwood, Illinois, Jess Drwal decided to come back to the Region to be close to her family in Portage and Hobart. This led to her current job as a truck driver for Holland Special Delivery in Munster where she says she has found a caring work family.

“They are understanding of anything going on in your personal life, and I definitely feel like a valued employee over just another body. Even the CEOs and staff all remember my name and face, and I remember all of theirs. It’s like a small, family-based type of business,” Drwal said.

Truck driving has allowed Drwal to travel all over the Midwest, and she considers it a paid alternative to vacation. Outside of working for a company that cares about her as an individual and not just an employee, this opportunity to travel is one of her favorite things about her job at Holland Special Delivery.

“I wanted to travel around the Midwest and find a place where I want to settle down, have a family, buy a house, and all that jazz,” Drwal said.

While she enjoys traveling for work, she enjoys planting roots in her free time as she is an avid gardener. Drwal makes her own terrariums and is fond of aloe vera and succulents. Recently, she has also developed an interest in begonias and grow-your-own mushrooms.

Gardening is in Drwal’s genes, stemming back to her grandma who is a florist.

“Gardening has always been a big thing in my family,” Drwal said. “My grandma on my mom's side is really good with outdoor plants, and my mom's good with outdoor plants. My other grandmother is a florist and is good at making bouquets and corsages. I wanted to get into my own niche of the green thumb in the family. I like a lot of indoor plants and potted plants, and I’m interested in urban agriculture.”

Drwal would like to turn her interest in urban agriculture into a career one day and is saving up to study botany and agriculture. She believes that growing plants and produce in an urban setting is doable and boils down to acquiring knowledge of plants’ specific needs.

“I want to look into a way to grow vegetables and ways to feed people in urban areas,” Drawl said. “That way, people in Chicago don't have to rely as much on having lots of space. They can have small gardens in their home.”

Having grown up in the Region, Drwal appreciates all the opportunities and resources available to Northwest Indiana residents. Her mom works for Hobart schools, so Drwal has seen all the fun activities that schools in the area plan for their students. Drwal takes advantage of the fact that a lot of her friends from high school still live in the area and enjoys hanging out with them at the Dunes during the summer.

“I love going to the Dunes. The Portage Dunes are now having events inside the pavilion all the time. Every now and then, I’ll go there and there will be live music,” Drwal said. “It still has all the stuff I used to enjoy when I was younger, and it’s even better than it was then.”

Outside of summers spent at the Dunes, Drwal would like to get into roller skating and rugby in the Region and spends time with her dog and two cats.