This year’s National Woman’s History Month is about recognizing women of character, courage, and commitment. A Woman’s Place (AWP) has been highlighting many interesting and accomplished women on our Facebook page. Each day as I read about our latest notable woman it makes me think about the women who have impacted my life.
As I considered the women in my life, who have set the examples, cleared the path, given me something to live up to, it was hard to narrow the list down to just one. But the more I thought about it, the more I landed on the same woman. Joanne Klienmann Wood. She taught me how to ride a horse. She deepened my understanding of compassion, as I watched her do everything humanly possible to make her dream stay afloat. Jo ran a handicapped horseback riding program in Bucks County for years. I stumbled upon it at the age of 11, when I was looking for something constructive to fill my Saturdays with. Working with horses, and with “handicapped” individuals, really appealed to me so I began volunteering. It was just once a week in the beginning, then twice, and eventually I became an employee for 20+ hours a week. I couldn’t get enough.
The program was barely funded, and in danger of going under more weeks than it was afloat. Thankfully Jo had connections. One week she was convincing a farmer to give us a few free hay rolls to feed the horses, and another week she was convincing a blacksmith to do six horses shoes for free, if she paid for three. It was amazing to watch, and that doesn’t even touch on the enthusiasm that I witnessed when she was in the ring working with the kids. One minute she was dealing with the fact that we had a sick horse, which was probably going to need to be put down, and the next, she was encouraging a little boy with CP to reach those extra few inches, despite the fact that it hurt his muscles, to grab the ring from her hand. The kids responded to her, the horses trusted her, and the rest of us were just in awe of her.
Jo taught me that when you are passionate about something, when you really believe in your cause, that you throw your whole self behind it. You do whatever needs to be done to keep those doors open, and the much needed services available to those who you serve. Up until my junior year of college I was convinced I would spend my life doing exactly what she did for a living. But our paths change, and now I am passionate about raising funds that help provide all the programs and services free to AWP clients, and the Bucks County community. Even though I am going in a different direction I still follow her example to the best of my ability, throwing myself behind what I believe in.
Thank you Jo, for being a woman of character, courage, and commitment. You are an amazing example of what a woman is capable of.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST IMPORTANT LESSON?
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