Persistence Pays Off

By Debbie Lagestee     •     Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography

Sometimes life does not go as planned. Sometimes it takes failing to find your way. This was the case for Joel Greenstein. He grew up in Florida, and after graduating from Coral Springs High School in 1995, he did what most graduates do, he went to college. In his first year, he spent more time having a good time, less time in the classroom, and absolutely no time studying. It was a recipe for disaster ending with him dropping out. After 3 years of no direction, he realized he was going nowhere fast and didn’t want to waste his life making poor decisions. His solution was to serve his country by joining the US Coast Guard and use the Military Service Education Benefits to go back to school. He was stationed in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, for 2½ years on a 110 foot Patrol Boat and then in Charleston for 3 years on a 180 foot Buoy Tender. After his service in the military, he decided to stay in Charleston and enrolled in Trident Technical College. Joel had zero credits from his initial college experience, so he was starting completely over. The second time around proved to be a different experience. With a desire to learn and earn a degree, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Trident. He then attended the College of Charleston, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. While in college, Joel volunteered at local middle and elementary schools. He mentored troubled students giving them someone to talk with and look up to. He helped guide them in making good choices. He was passionate about leading the youth down a different path than he took.

Jennifer Greenstein grew up in Canfield, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown. Her family vacationed on Kiawah Island almost every year since she was 7 years old. It was on those vacations she learned of the College of Charleston. When the time came to decide where she would go to college, there was no other school she wished to attend. She begged her parents to allow her to follow her dream to attend the College of Charleston. They said yes, she packed her bags, and she moved to Charleston. She graduated from the College of Charleston in 2005 with a BS in Biochemistry and a BA in Chemistry.

Joel and Jennifer met in a Physical Chemistry Lab class at the College of Charleston. For him, it was love at first sight. She, on the other hand, was not feeling any chemistry between them. Joel knew it was imperative for them to become lab partners so they could spend long hours together and he could hopefully get a date with Jennifer. He put his name next to hers on the chalkboard, his plan worked, and they were officially assigned as partners. That was the easy part. Getting a date was much more difficult. She turned him down for 3 months, viewing him solely as her nerdy lab partner, but Joel was persistent, and she finally relented. Their first date was at Coast Bar and Grill in Charleston, and a spark was ignited. Three years later, they got engaged at the same restaurant as their first date. They were married in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2008.

Jennifer is a Lead Chemist at a chemical manufacturing company. She currently oversees the quoting and pricing process, technical support, and quality control. Since March 2020, she has been working from home, which has been a blessing. Joel works for the Co Restaurant group, where he serves as the Corporate Project Manager supervising 10 different restaurants. Joel is an admitted workaholic. Together he and Jennifer own Crump Entertainment, named after their late dog Crumpler. They provide live trivia to local bars. Additionally, Joel is a Wedding DJ.

Joel and Jennifer have 2 girls. Sadie is 10 years old, and Taylor is 5 years old. Sadie is in 5th grade, and Taylor is thrilled to be in kindergarten at Ashley River Creative Arts School Elementary School. Sadie’s favorite subject is math, and she loves to read. Both girls do gymnastics. Sadie is a very talented piano player. She began playing 2 ½ years ago, and she has flourished. She can play Arabesque and Solfeggietto in C Minor. Sadie loves rollercoasters. Jennifer and Sadie went to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio twice, to ride the tallest and fastest rides. Joel takes a pass on those trips since the rides make him ill. Taylor wants to do everything her big sister does. Currently, she has her eye on the piano, and she is attempting to play. She spends a great deal of her time singing, and she is looking forward to playing soccer this fall. She makes friends everywhere she goes, the pool, the beach, playgrounds, and restaurants. Everyone is her best friend, and she has a special place in her heart for puppies. The Greensteins also have 2 dogs. Bailey is a 10-year-old Chocolate Lab. Tater Tot is the newest member of the family. He is a 15-week old 3-pound Shitpoo.

Joel and Jen honeymooned in Mexico. Each year, they take a couples trip back to the same resort for relaxation and fun in the sun. Disney is the top choice for family vacations, and they have been several times with the girls. One of their best family memories was in 2019. The whole family went to Munich, Germany, to meet Jen’s extended family, who live there. The girls were able to play with their cousins and got along famously despite their language differences. It was an incredible experience, and they hope to return again someday.

The Greenstein family loves a good party, and they especially love to host parties. Jen loves to party plan and decorate for the girls’ birthdays. Her favorite was Taylor’s 5th birthday party in March. The theme was Candy Land. She was over the moon when Joel agreed to let her spray-paint the backyard to resemble the game board. She also made candy decorations to place throughout the yard. A gracious neighbor let her borrow a few key pieces to make the space picture perfect. Jennifer began working on the hand-painted peppermints in early January. Sadie and her friends helped paint the decorations. It was a labor of love but so fun to pull it all together. Their annual Super Bowl party is second to none. They host upwards of 50 people and more if Joel’s favorite team, the New England Patriots, is playing. Jen is a Cleveland Browns fan but has grown to love the Patriots as well.  The 4th of July bash this year included a firework show which could be seen throughout the neighborhood. Joel brought his DJ equipment out to where the show took place. He played patriotic music as the fireworks lit up the sky for 24 minutes. They go all out with Halloween decorations spending weeks preparing to welcome visitors. They are known as the Zombie House and are famous for handing out full-size candy bars to trick or treaters.

Joel and Jennifer have lived in Carolina Bay for 7 years. “The neighborhood is the perfect suburbia for our kids to grow up. The Food Truck Fridays allow us to stay in the hood and enjoy hanging out with our neighbors,” says Joel. They love living close to the park, and Jennifer is thrilled the girls have many friends to play with. They like to go on bike rides and look at the turtles and alligators. Jennifer and Joel love their neighbors. “Everyone is amazing and looks out for one another and our kids,” Joel said. Jennifer adds, “Our next-door neighbors are an older couple, and they are the sweetest ‘grandparents’ to our children. Our girls are always excited to talk to them. Miss Anne took Sadie to ride her horse, which was so fun for her, and Taylor is obsessed with giving hugs to Miss Anne.” They take long walks to see the extravagant Halloween and Christmas decorations. They also enjoy being close to the Greenway, beaches, and downtown Charleston to explore the many restaurants.

In life, there are many different paths to choose. Sometimes it requires taking one step forward and two steps back to find the right direction. Joel learned this, he course-corrected, and his persistence paid off. He found his way, and he got the girl.

This article was featured in the October 2021 issue of Carolina Bay Neighbors magazine.


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