Jessica Bell is a dental assistant at Mooring and Mooring DDS in Clayton. She and her daughter, Erika, volunteer a lot of time with a community outreach program called SOS. They currently live in Rolesville. More information on SOS and the dance marathon is available at or at wfrsosclub.org or at triangledancemarathon.com.
Q: You were born in upstate New York. How did you get to North Carolina?
When I was seven my grandparents moved to Asheville to escape the cold weather and my dad followed them. The weather can still be cold, but nothing like in New York.
Q: What did your parents do in Asheville?
My mom was a nurse’s assistant and my dad was a police officer.
Q: What brought you from Asheville to the Clayton area?
Well there was a break in between the two. My mom’s parents lived in San Diego, Calif. When I graduated from high school I moved out there to help my grandparents because my grandfather had colon cancer. After high school I thought San Diego would be a cooler city to live in than Asheville. It was nice and I had a place to stay and I could help my grandparents.
When I moved back to the east coast my brother had moved to Raleigh and he and I are really close so that’s why I came back here.
Q: How long were you in San Diego?
I was there for five years. I worked at a restaurant and then I started dental assisting school there as well. My grandfather passed away, but my grandmother is still there. She’s doing really well. She has a boyfriend and they like to play Scrabble together. I liked San Diego. You can’t beat the weather and I loved being 10 minutes from the coast.
Q: Why did you decide to come back to North Carolina after spending five years in San Diego?
I have a daughter and I wanted her to grow up in a smaller town. I wanted her to experience seasons. Winter there only drops into the fifties, so I wanted her to experience cold weather.
Q: When you moved back did you immediately start working with Dr. Mooring or did you do something else first?
When I moved back I started working a temporary job for the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010. I ran the administration department. I was in charge of payroll and hiring and training of people. It was a short-lived position, but it was very cool. I was impressed with the people in this area because even though we knew it was a temporary job everyone put so much into it. It wasn’t just a clock-in, clock-out kind of thing. There was a lot of teamwork involved. People took it very seriously. It was really refreshing to me.
Then I took classes to become re-certified in dental assisting in North Carolina. I applied to work (at Dr. Mooring’s office). They had an opening at the front desk and I’ve been happy here ever since. Now I’m doing dental assisting and front desk work, too.
Q: Tell me about your daughter.
Well, her name is Erika. She’s thirteen and in eighth grade at Wake Forest-Rolesville (Middle).
Q: How are teenage years treating her?
She’s a good kid and has a good head on her shoulders. I’m bracing for teenage years, but I’m not really worried. Thirteen is such a funny age. She’s straddling the age of wanting to be independent, but needing mom now and then. It’s a tough time for kids. She’s really great.
Q: When you have free time what do you like to do?
I love being with my daughter. We have two dogs and we like to take them to the dog park. My daughter is very involved in a service organization at school called SOS. It stands for Social Organization and Service Club. I do a lot of volunteering with that group. It’s unique to their middle school. They do a lot of community volunteering, but their big fundraiser is a dance marathon. It’s for middle schoolers. They dance for six to eight hours. They raise money from sponsorships and from the dancers who come. This is my daughter’s third year to be a part of the club. Last year (November of 2012) they actually had the dance marathon at PNC arena and they raised $13,050 which they split between Duke and UNC Children’s Hospital.
Each eighth grader also has to have another community-based project in addition to the dance marathon, so we’ve been working on that.
She is doing an amazing race type theme for her school. Her money will go to the hospitals too.
It’s a great experience for a middle schooler to be a part of an organization that is so successful in raising that kind of money for a charity. Their goal is to expand it to all middle schoolers in the Triangle.
Q: How did she get involved with SOS?
I encouraged her to look into clubs when she got into middle school. She’s not really into sports, but I wanted her to be a part of some type of community support based organization so she would be aware of other’s needs. The club members were asked to speak at the middle school conference in Louisville, KY this year and last year they went to Portland, OR and spoke in front of teachers and administrators to tell them how to start a club like this at their own school. The club has taught her about business and about public speaking; it’s been wonderful.
She has even solicited businesses herself to support the cause.
Q: Does Erika hold an office?
There is a group of leaders and she is part of them.
Q: Do the kids get to tour the hospitals to see where their money goes?
No, because the kids at the hospital have compromised immune systems. The kids from SOS get to go and present the checks to the hospitals. Some of the healthier kids have been able to come to school and talk to the SOS kids, though. A couple of the kids attended the dance marathon and spoke about how the children’s hospital has been able to help them. You could really see in the room that the kids got it. They really understood why they were there. We had the whole PNC arena and the room was silent while the families were talking. It was pretty cool.
Correspondent Holly Lock