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Thursday, 28 November 2019 21:56

PARDS 2019 Volunteer of the Year - Judi Harker Featured

pards judi harkerPeace Area Riding for the Disabled Society (PARDS)

Time is the most selfless gift a person can give; especially when it is given to make a difference in the lives of others.

At PARDS our volunteers are as unique as they are diverse in the skills they offer. We see over 15,000 volunteer hours per year from people as young as 8 who come to muck stalls to retirees coming to help lead or sidewalk in lessons or use their skills and trades in any way they can. We see volunteers selling lottery tickets, helping in events throughout the year and the list goes on. We see PARDS riders come to volunteer such as Erin, who comes every Monday in her wheel chair to dust our main office window sills and tables, or Josh who has a love of paper, who comes to do our weekly shredding or Kaylee who helped with the Dine & Dance decor folding paper stars.
Each volunteer gives of themselves doing what they can, in any way they can, all in support of PARDS riders.

Each year we honour a volunteer and choosing one is not an easy task. I would like to tell you a little about “our volunteer”, Judi Harker.

Like many of our lesson volunteers she says, the barn is her happy place, she enjoys working with the riders and she has a love of horses and she needs her “fix”. Judi said that "ohh about 1-3 hours a week is just about right" for her fix, but I am not so sure about that. Personally, I think she has PARDS on speed dial, as when there is a volunteer cancellation, Judi is one of the first to call to say she can help. Judi helps with birthday parties, leading the party goers and at the FUND ride helping in the carnival or with the pony rides.
Judi has a quiet and understanding nature which allows PARDS horses to have trust in her and our riders to feel comfortable in their lesson, some even building strong bonds with her. One rider Rochelle, does not do well with change and as she came into the arena one day, she thought that her ‘regular” leader volunteer was not there for her. Her arms crossed, her head went down and she shut down, unable to do anything more in her lesson. Well, Judi realized the problem, she called out to Rochelle and took off her toque, the locks of curls that had been tucked up fell, and Rochelle had HER leader again. She had the biggest of smiles and gave the biggest hug ever and Rochelle’s lesson began.
Judi began volunteering with PARDS almost 6 years ago, giving 2 hours each week on her day off; but when called back to work full time was thinking that time may have to end. Now we soon learned that this quiet nature was a source to be reckoned with. Returning to her full-time position Judi approached her employer and asked, “PARDS is my happy place and I need that; so if you would like this place to be just as happy, can I please continue my volunteering Wednesday afternoons?.” Which they did for as long as they could.
Judi is an ambassador for PARDS. When she heard PARDS was looking for welders to build the fences she approached her employer to see if they could help. Thank you to Ruskin Construction Limited, for building our fences.
Wanting more time with the riders and horses Judi took on another evening to help in lessons and when asked why she keeps coming back replied in her typical comical nature, “Because you guys haven’t abused me enough”. Now taking on an extra evening to volunteer at PARDS was not exactly what her better half Don had in mind and he shared they didn’t spend as much time together as they used to. And Judi's reply? "Well - come with me then", and they did, every Monday night.
We would like to thank Judi for everything she does for PARDS riders. Like all of our volunteers, we can't do it without you!
Last modified on Thursday, 05 December 2019 20:25

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