Naples Equestrian Challenge kindly "spotlighted" me as December's Volunteer. I am very honored and share the form I turned in for the Spotlight Bulletin Board in the hospitality shed.
Moved to Naples from: Los Angeles, CA Year moved to Naples: 2004
Why did you move to Naples?:
Our first child, Riley, experience a massive brain hemorrhage in utero. His traumatic birth caused us to make many changes to our lifestyle which included moving to be closer to family. We decided upon SWFL where my mother spends the majority of her time.
Present and/or past occupation, company name, job title & responsibilities:
After the birth of my son, nearly 10 years ago, I gave up my paid occupation to devote time to him and ultimately educating and promoting causes of special needs. I LOVE NEC but also devote my time (when not caring for Riley) as an Arbonne Independent Consultant, the boys schools, and a personal blog on the journey of special needs parents. Between caring for Riley and that, my "time clock" is full.
College/University & Degree(s) held including subject area:
Gettysburg College, English Lit. B.A.
Brooks Institute of Photography, Media, B.A.
Special Needs Kids, I have my S.N.K. degree (graduated on 8.28.2002 (birth of son)) and still pursuing.
Family (name of spouse, # children/grandchildren/pets):
Spouse: John Buck (when I claim him) John sits on the Program Committee and is the face behind the camera at NEC events.
Children: Riley (9) & Ronan (7 this month)
Scuba Diving & Photography
I became a Naples Equestrian Challenge volunteer (month/year):
I think that if you have a child with Special Needs, you need to be there for him/her. When Riley turned 3 fall of 2005, we joined NEC. I wanted to be there for him and give my time to a cause that I truly believe in.
I became a volunteer at NEC because it was the agreement parents and caregivers made as part of the rider contract. My other Volunteer activity is volunteering my husband for things! NEC is a "family oriented thing." I am one of Riley's regular side-walkers, but not necessarily his favorite. This year I took on another volunteer area as fundraiser. Chico's, offered an opportunity for a shopping day in The Company Store, a sample sale warehouse, and the proceeds were returned to NEC. The event took place in September and I hope to make it a yearly event with even greater attendance in the future.
Some of my most memorable NEC moments are…
Growing with NEC. I started when the arena had no roof (those were some hot days, but fun for the kids). Watching the Volunteers grow (we have photos of young boys and girls who have stayed with the program so long they turned into kids with braces into amazing adults).
I will always remember our first visit to NEC. At that time, Riley was challenged by motion and car rides were particularly miserable. He had cried on the drive and I was regretting taking him out at all. It was a hot quiet summer day and the place appeared deserted. I pulled Riley from his car seat and as I brought him into the sun a strong breeze struck us carrying the scent of hay and horses. Riley's mood immediately turned joyous. He liked it all and we had barely taken a step. It smelled right to him. It felt right. I knew we would be staying.
As the years have gone by, NEC has remained a constant in our life. As a special needs family, we don't go anywhere unnecessarily. As a child and family with multiple disabilities sets us apart. Naples Equestrian Challenge is one place where we are always welcome and understood. It is also unique in that this is the one therapy we do not need to justify and can simply be something Riley can participate in and enjoy.
MY other comment:
Being Volunteer of the Month is not expected. Particularly because there are SO many people "behind" this organization who are not out in the arena with the horses/kids who are so deserving... Being a part of NEC is not about being at NEC when the kids ride. It is about the families sharing education/being there for each other; the staff who do this not for the money, but the love of what they do; the people who because of physical or other challenges cannot side walk, but give their time in countless other ways. The amazing sponsors who literally built a roof over my son's head when he walks and hung fans to cool him. There are so many facets to NEC that we can all partake in. I am Blessed to be a part of such an organization.
Other organizations & positions held:
Currently, I am an Arbonne Independent Consultant for health and wellness products, a blogger and I also volunteer with Freedom Waters Foundation, Rayma C. Page Elementary (Riley's school) and Bonita Springs Preparatory and Fitness Academy (Riley's School).
Some of my previous volunteer positions:
Wildlife Waystation, Level II volunteer
Volunteer, The Junior League of Los Angeles, Marketing Committee
Coastal Clean-Up Day Beach Captain for Will Rogers Beach & Steering Committee City of Santa Monica
California Coastal Commission recognition 1993 1994, 1995, 1997
tripled turn-out to 500 in my first year as captain, collected 1139 pounds of trash, only 10 pounds shy of the winning site for most trash
Some of my previous employment positions:
US Census Bureau, 2010 Census, Ennumerator
Library Foundation of Los Angeles,
Lead for the City of Los Angeles Campaign, Liaison for The Council, Library Associates Membership
Freeman Hospitals Foundation - Donor Service Management for Hospitals & PCRI (Prostate Cancer Research Institute), Financial tracking, Grant, Events
The Nature Conservancy
Earth Share of California, Campaign Manager