A Good Hero works here! She’s selfless and passionate about helping families thrive, and she embodies all our core values. She is a true champion of moms, dads and children. Better Together is grateful to have Jessica Braemer on the team!  Those are the words written about Jessica Braemer by her colleagues at Better Together, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people help themselves. Jessica is the Southwest Florida Partnerships Manager, serving the greater Sarasota region, including Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties. Along with her dedicated team, she helps parents who are going through a hard time keep their kids out of foster care, find work and address the root causes of their struggle so that they can reunite as a family with tools and a support system to thrive.

Originally from the state of Washington, Jessica’s passion for helping others came from her experience working with and serving military families during the Iraq war with her former Army husband who she married in 2007. Together, they had a daughter in 2009 and relocated to Florida. Shortly thereafter, they separated and divorced and it was then that Jessica says “the bottom fell all the way out” on her life. “Like many that fall on hard times, when the bottom falls out, you often have no one,” she shares. “Despite how I was raised, and knowing what was right and wrong, I found myself in a place of being alone, feeling completely hopeless, and for a short time (that felt like an eternity) I was separated from my family. I couldn’t escape the circumstances that surrounded us. But it was through that trial that I was given the gift of desperation and my comeback story began. The community and church really loved me back to life. I rebuilt my life and found confidence, faith, purpose, drive and most importantly I had my daughter with me. I am certain, if I would’ve had something like Better Together ten years ago, it would’ve changed the trajectory of things in my life.” Now remarried, Jessica and her husband, who also happens to be her best friend, have four incredible kids, and they are hoping for more children to come. “My husband and I love sharing the Gospel with all we encounter, and both use our life experience and overcoming stories to serve those around us,” she says.

With a background in fundraising, event planning, and grant writing, Jessica came to Better Together in April 2021. When she joined the team, they had six church partners in Circuit 12 (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties). They now have 31 church partners. In just a few short years, Better Together has served over 367 children across Sarasota and Manatee counties. Jessica leads the network of faith partners in recruiting, screening and training volunteers, and coordinates with community partners to help local families. In her short time with the organization, Jessica has been a champion of women, children and families in our community, empowering them with resources and tools to stay together. “One outreach we did that really touched my heart was taking Thanksgiving meals to families in need just before the holiday.” she says. “For many families, just getting through the day-to-day is difficult and the parents we serve don’t have the means to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table. This effort brought tremendous blessings to the families served, helping make the holiday extra special.” During the holidays, her team collected and distributed Christmas gifts for 106 children across the region. “There is something so special happening (and growing) where we get to see the community, government, churches, law enforcement, and families come together and be the church to change the standard. Not just in the judicial system, but in helping keep children out of foster care, families together, and ultimately restore hope and wholeness to the family unit,” she adds.

A recent success story that Jessica is happy to share involves a time when she volunteered at the Women’s Recovery Pod at the Sarasota County Jail. Through her partnership with Better Together, she was able to come alongside the reentry navigator team, the public defender, the state attorney, and ultimately a local mom, Sierra, who was incarcerated and pregnant and needed care for her newborn child when he was born so he would not enter the foster care system. Before Sierra’s son was even born, Better Together secured a host family that would welcome him into their home and provide care until his mom was able to enter a Christ-centered 12-month residential program with him. The family hosted Jasper for three or four weeks, providing a loving, safe home for his first few weeks of life while Sierra waited anxiously and excitedly to be reunited with him. The host family stayed in touch with her throughout this time, sharing updates and photos of Jasper while building a lasting friendship. Sierra was eventually released from jail and reunited with her son in the residential program. 

When asked about advice she would give to young people, Jessica has a lot to say.  “Find community. Figure out how you are uniquely created. Everyone was created for a unique purpose on this earth that only you are meant to do. Find mentors and people that you can learn from. Use your life experience (even the not-so-great on-paper stuff) as fuel for motivation and healing for this world. Be a person with strong integrity. Pursue the passion that stirs in you and keeps you up at night! Dare to dream and when you dream . . . dream big. There is a yes out there somewhere and don’t stop until you find it. The sky’s the limit, so enjoy the pursuit of life, faith, love, family, and happiness!” SRQ Jessica Braemer was honored as one of SRQ Magazine’s good heroes in March 2023.