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Community , Why NEPA?

Jennifer Dolphin of Local Juice Co. – Why NEPA?

“My family’s here… They were there for me, and I’ll be there for them.”

When Jennifer Dolphin saw the vacant storefront on Ash Street, she knew she had found the right spot. The way the sunlight streamed through the windows, the building’s good vibes, the charm of Scranton’s Hill Section… it would be the perfect home for her new business, Local Juice Co. She officially opened the doors in December 2021, offering cold-pressed juices, wholesome snacks and a healthy dose of positivity.

It’s that positive attitude that helped Jenn get to where she is today. She has battled Budd-Chiara syndrome and regenerative nodular hyperplasia, two rare liver conditions that became so severe, she ultimately needed a new liver. The wait on the transplant list seemed endless. In the meantime, Jenn created a Facebook page as an inspirational blog to connect with other patients and encourage them.

In 2015, Jenn received a life-changing phone call from a woman who had seen the Facebook page. The woman’s son, a teenager named Luke, had been in a deadly car accident. His mother had heard Jenn’s story and wanted her to have Luke’s liver. They went through with the transplant, and amazingly, it was a match.

Despite a difficult recovery, Jenn pressed on. “If there’s an obstacle in anything, we just keep moving forward. There is a way. I say this all the time,” she reflected. “I knew at some point in my life that I was going to do something.”

Jenn’s health journey left her with many dietary restrictions. She began juicing for her own nutritional needs and saw the opportunity to share her passion for wellness with others. She opened Local Juice Co. with the goal not only to promote good health, but also to give back and serve others, especially those with special dietary needs. Jenn summed it up: “Through all of that, I’ve learned that gratitude and graciousness and humbleness—just simple kindness—I think that’s all we need in this life.”

We visited the shop to talk about Jenn’s inspiring story and the excitement of starting a business. We discussed the importance of family and the joys of everyday life. And we ultimately came down to the big question: Why NEPA?

 

How long have you lived in NEPA?

All my life. I was born and raised in Dunmore.

What do you love about your town?

I like the different things that we have to offer. I love to see new things popping up, new restaurants popping up. We love to go and check out new places and new experiences. Just get in your car and drive. Go get lost one day. You can go and literally discover and see what our area has to offer.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

What’s the new one down in Wilkes-Barre? Bank + Vine? Yes! That was really good. I also heard that Local Juice is really good too. [laughs] Just saying.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

We go to RailRiders baseball games a lot. I love those. We go hiking a lot in our area. We like to drive around. We like to go biking. We ride bikes everywhere, like the Heritage Trail. My daughter loves that. The parks, like Nay Aug Park. Even down in Jim Thorpe with the rails, the trains and all of that. I think it’s so beautiful. We took the haunted tour [at the Old Jail Museum]. Oh my gosh, you know the handprint on the wall? That mesmerized my daughter. Go check that out. I’m getting goosepimples right now just thinking about it.

What’s next for you?

Here, we’re going to do some New Year’s cleanses. We’re going to get people focused on detoxing and cleansing and really get that going. We’re going to educate people. You know, a cleanse isn’t just for weight loss. It’s not that. It’s also to give the body and the digestive system a reset. So that’s a goal. Another goal is to take this and grow it. Maybe in two or three years, have another. Maybe in a 15- or 20-mile radius, see another Local Juice.

Once we have a good customer base, we plan to move to glass and do a bottle exchange program. With that, we’re going to put in a dishwasher so that you bring in your bottle, you exchange it and you’ll get money back so that we’re even more planet-conscious.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

I see us going in this direction of the knowing what’s best for ourselves. Just being more aware of ourselves, being more attuned to ourselves, being more conscious. Our area is becoming younger. More younger people are staying in the area, I believe. I think that’s going to help keep us more aware.

We’re being more planet-conscious, I do believe, in our area. We have to be more aware to what we do to ourselves and the planet, because we only have one of ourselves and one of what we’re standing on. It’s the truth. I think that’s the direction that we’re going to go in.

Why NEPA?

Because my family’s here. I would never leave. I live three doors down from my mom and dad. We were at their house last night for family pasta night. They were there for me, and I’ll be there for them.

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