July’s Volunteer of the Month

Here’s the story of how Martha Turner arrived at LaDawn. Many years ago, in nursing school, she had been a sidewalker at a therapeutic horseback riding program affiliated with New England Rehab. Martha also had taken horseback riding lessons growing up, and loved the riding, loved the horses. After she retired from the Postal Service, her first volunteer position was with the Salmon Falls Library. Martha loves to read, and some other members of her book club also volunteered at the library. After a while, Martha started looking for an additional volunteer opportunity that would help her get more active, as her natural inclination is to spend her days curled up on the couch with a book.

Her dedication and appreciation goes far beyond our expectations. Please read her answers to why we chose Martha as our Volunteer of the month!

1) What did you have for knowledge before coming here? How have you grown since coming?

I had some experience as a sidewalker, and I have taken riding lessons. I am an RN (retired), so I have knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, and experience working with all kinds of patients.

I am pleased to be in much better shape physically. I am not naturally inclined to any sort of physical activity, but I am highly motivated to keep up with the horses and students, and I look forward to my time at LaDawn. I enjoy the physical activity.

2) Something memorable/inspirational:

All my life I have enjoyed “learning” anywhere, any time. I went to school for a lot of years (a BSN as well as a BA in sociology), and I have taken lots of adult ed classes, and I love going to workshops and conferences and classes. When I retired, I looked forward to receiving the SAD 6 adult ed catalog every spring and fall, so I could plan what classes to take. Now, since I’ve been at LaDawn, I no longer feel the need to study the catalog, because I look forward to learning something every week at LaDawn. This fulfills my need to keep my brain active as well as my body. I look forward to learning about the horses, the barn chores, the different types of students, all of it. The more I learn, the better I like it; the more I learn, the more I can help.

3) Favorite therapy horse. Why?

My favorite horse: I would have to say Dozer, because I have worked with him the most. When Kelly was showing me how to lead a horse, she kept saying, you have to look ahead where you’re going, not at the horse. And I said “but I like looking at Dozer” and she said, we all do, but there’s a time and a place for that. I’ve learned that even with a horse and student that you are used to, you have to be on the alert at all times. And I can keep up with Dozer. I’m not yet ready to run along beside some of the tallest horses I still have trouble keeping up. But I can walk really well with Dozer. And I’ve also worked with Zippy, and I see how much everyone loves him, and students often request Zippy. But I feel Dozer is my favorite, at least for now!

4) Why do you come/what makes you come back every week? What do you enjoy the most/favorite activity while here?

I look forward to seeing everyone each week, both the horses and the humans (and the dogs, too). I am awed by the interaction between the students and Donna and the horses. People who cannot walk or speak, put them on the horse and they seem like someone else. They are mobile and active. They get a whole new view of the world. Some of these students have been riding here for many years, and they continue to look forward to riding every week. I am so impressed by the dedication of everyone involved with LaDawn. I look forward to helping in any way I can (except perhaps not making wreaths!). If I were a millionaire, I would like to be able to donate a million dollars. But for now, I am eager to provide whatever assistance I can.

5) Favorite season of the barn? (EX: winter because of the Christmas deco, summer because of haying…)

I haven’t been at the stable for a full year yet, so I haven’t experienced the full summer heat. I started in the early fall, before the school year began. I am really enjoying the spring, looking forward to being outside again, instead of just inside. I am not much of a summer person, do not enjoy the hot weather. I actually enjoyed the winter, bundling up in lots of extra clothing. I enjoy the pony ride days. One of my favorite activities is brushing the horses. My least favorite activity: making wreaths. I have enjoyed everything else!