For those of you who are annual gala attendees, you are familiar with the Jean Schaffner Spirit Award. This award was set up in memory of Jean Schaffner, the mother of one of our long-time volunteers and supports, Kate Schaffner. The award is designed to honor outstanding volunteer service at Xenophon and is presented each year at our annual gala. We have over 100 volunteers who come through the center each week, many of whom have been with us for 10 years or more. You can imagine how difficult it is to narrow down the choice to 1 person. There are so many who are deserving of this award. So, because it is so difficult to choose one, we chose two.
Jim and Julie Taylor, a husband and wife team, have been with Xenophon almost since its beginning, which is an amazing amount of history. Julie Taylor started as a sidewalker but as with most volunteers at the center, her duties did not stop there. Being always willing to cheerfully step in and assist with any job that needed to be done, you could often find her coordinating volunteers, cleaning tack, restocking the emergency medical kits, or working on whatever project was on the day’s agenda. Says her peers, “She approaches each and every task with a positive attitude and enthusiasm. She has shared this enthusiasm with others, bringing many new volunteers into the fold and happily providing guidance to those less experienced than herself”. Despite facing many of her own physical challenges, she has continued to come to the center nearly every single week, taking on small and large tasks, demonstrating the value in volunteers that goes far beyond sidewalking.
Julie’s husband, Jim, has made himself invaluable at the center. You can imagine the challenges of a facility requiring a significant amount of maintenance and repairs that is primarily populated by females. Not that we horse women aren’t handy, but there is limit to our tool knowledge. On any given day this, Jim can by found stopping by on his way home from work just to check in with us on what might need fixing: be it fences, automatic waterers, adding a new light fixture, replacing flat tires on our numerous wheeled contraptions, problem solving on our compost bins, replacing broken forks on the pitch forks, jump starting drained batteries on the tractor, dragging the arena, realigning barn doors, adjusting footing on our sensory trail, oh, and did we mention he fixes flat tires? This is just a small list of the many, many problems Jim helps with at the center, much to the relief of the staff. We have yet to find a problem he cannot resolve for us.
We are profoundly appreciative of both Jim and Julie for their dedication and generosity towards Xenophon. We hope they continue with us for many, many years to come.