Family of the Heart


People often ask me what it is like to work for a family and work with family. That’s such a huge question! Everyone has a different definition of what “family” means and all of them are correct so here’s a bit of my journey to answer that complex question. 

Starting way back in my 30’s, I had the typical definition of family: parents, kids, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s a great picture and delightful for those that have that. Some families are close, physically and emotionally and some are not. I love my blood family. We are diverse, whacky, opinionated, and stubborn and there is love there. As I moved through my 30’s, 40’s and now in my 50’s my definition has changed to add a new category. “Family of the heart” was once stated in a conversation I was having, and this resonated deep within me. I felt this in every part of my being, and I am fortunate enough to have this in my life! I have a network of beautiful, compassionate, giving, funny, sarcastic, and take-the-shirt-off-their-back’s kind of family. I would describe it as a bushel basket of amazing men and women whom I adore and that love me and my kids very much. They have been there through the good, the bad and the ugly with us and always made it funny and manageable. I would do anything for these people…ANYTHING! Including trying to catch whipped cream…

When I was given the opportunity in November of 2020 to work for a family business I jumped at the chance. I knew this family. A member of this family helped me medically in the past and we had attended a few parties on their estate. These are good, kind, lovely people. I started working as the office manager for their lighting business and transitioned into the office manager for Poplar Hill as well. I realized quickly I needed help to pull it all together. When I was hired, I told Phil that one of my biggest strong points was that I know how to reach out to others when there is something I cannot conquer on my own. I knew we needed to get the word out about what a picturesque wedding venue Poplar Hill is, but I had no clue how to do this. Enter Madelyn Jensen, my youngest and only favorite daughter. She was in the process of attending college for business administration with a concentration in digital media marketing. I told Phil and Beth that we needed her, and they listened and hired her. It went from a few hours a week to her graduating and working with me full time. She is also my roommate as I moved out of my wonderful only favorite son’s home and bought a small house for Madelyn and myself. I live and work with her. She is the best roommate, best co-worker, best daughter EVER!  She’s dedicated, funny, sarcastic, moody, and just a fabulous ball of wonderful. My sweet girl with big dreams and I will do anything to foster that…roots to grow…wings to fly!

The Colarusso family opened their home and grounds to invite new love to couples from all over to start their new lives together. It’s a testament to the kind of people they are. I love this life, these people, this family and all the wonderful people I’ve been exposed to working here. This family has been such a blessing and I’m so glad they are members of my family of the heart.

Working here has been a lovely balance. We are sarcastic with each other, constantly laugh at and with each other and help each other when needed. Working at Poplar Hill has also given me the opportunity to meet many people from all walks of life. I enjoy seeing the joy in couple’s eyes when they come in to discuss their dreams for their big day, their love story and what the future holds for them. It’s a window into the beginning of a new shared life and is a gift that we get to experience day after day. Who wouldn’t love this job?!

To answer the question, “what’s it like to work for and with family”, the simple answer is I wouldn’t want in any other way! I cherish this opportunity to work with such a loving family and my strong, amazing daughter that I am privileged enough watch thrive in all that she does. The greatest blessing is that being with this family and my family means we have each other’s backs and will do anything to continue to share this kind of love with all that choose to cross our paths here at Poplar Hill.

Penny Jensen

Penny Jensen