JANUARY 2017 VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH – LEA KITCHEN

Lea first started volunteering at WindReach Farm in May 2015.  It was her first year of retirement and she was in the midst of finding the rhythm of her new found freedom, but that that volunteering had always been part of her plan going forward. Lea was involved in the curling club and often received updates and heard stories about the farm from Kelly Taylor. She said that hearing about the farm reminded her of what a special place the farm was, which enticed her to attend a New Volunteer Orientation. After attending the orientation, Lea said she knew she had found the perfect place to volunteer!

When Lea first started volunteering, she began in the Wool Program. Since then, she has dabbled in many aspects of the farm. Lea has cleaned stalls and animal cages and has gotten her hands dirty gardening around the farm too. Lea has spent the most time volunteering as an Adventure Leader for our Day Visitors Program and for our Beyond the Farm Gate Program. She enjoys all aspects of the farm, whether that be working with animals or making a measurable difference on farm conditions, but Lea is quoted as saying “witnessing the benefit that various populations derive from farm programs is priceless.”

Lea feels that volunteering at WindReach Farm has far surpassed any of her expectations. She likes to call the farm her ‘ happy place’. While out and about on the farm, Lea enjoys watching older adults reconnect with their farming roots, special needs individuals conquer their fears and other visitors gain greater insights into animal behaviour, farming practices and the exquisite majesty of nature itself. She says that this confirms her belief that in some small way we can enrich each other’s lives. Lea is quoted as saying “Sandy intrinsically knew this and acted to make WindReach a reality.” Lea is hopeful that in some small way, she can assist the farm in fulfilling its mandate – which she certainly does!

Lea believes that every new experience you have in life provides you with learning moments.  She has learned different characteristics and behaviours unique to specific animals, such as their likes and dislikes. She says she has witnessed compassion, empathy, and resilience which further confirms her belief that we all have talents and value and “together we can enrich one another’s experience as we travel along life’s journey.”

In addition to volunteering frequently at the farm, Lea has a variety of interests and stays very busy. She loves to read, cook, play Pickleball, tennis, go kayaking and spend time at the cottage with her husband. Lea and her husband enjoy following the Maple Leafs, Raptors and major Tennis Championships. During the summer months, you can find Lea working hard in her garden with her dog Maya nearby. Lea said all of these things are important to her, but that spending time with husband and two daughters is the important.

Thanks to Lea for providing such detailed and in-depth answers to all of my questions.

SEPTEMBER VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH – BOB BICKERTON

Bob first started volunteering at WindReach Farm in early 2015. Bob has a granddaughter with special needs and once he had retired he felt that volunteering at WindReach Farm was a natural fit for him.

You’ll often see Bob sitting high up in the tractor taking many groups for their wagon ride. He really enjoys driving the tractor. Bob enjoys speaking to the groups while out in the pasture. He enjoys the interaction he has with the cows and has been known to research interesting facts about the cows to share with all of our visitors. Bob occasionally fills the Adventure Leader role too, but certainly being the tractor driver is the role he enjoys most.

He makes our visitors laugh when he tells everyone that his co-volunteer and friend Al, is his father. Al isn’t his father, but he likes to drive the tractor too! Bob likes to tell all of our visitors that the yellow tags in the cows’ ears are either hearing aids, ear buds for music or a button to make the cow say “MOO!”

When asked if his volunteer experience at WindReach Farm has matched his expectations, he was quick to say that he didn’t have any expectations to begin with, but that volunteering here as far exceeded anything he could have hoped for! He feels as though volunteering at WindReach Farm has made him more aware of individuals with special needs and the daily challenges that they overcome. He said he has gained a huge respect for both parents and support workers and calls them his Heroes!

Bob says that volunteering here has made realize he is a very fortunate individual because he has had good health, and was able to retire early so he can enjoy his days volunteering at WindReach Farm.

When he’s not volunteering, you’ll probably find Bob spending time with his family, on the golf course or traveling! We really enjoy having Bob at the farm. We know he makes everyone’s visit and wagon ride even more enjoyable. Next time you see the tractor driving by, be sure to give a wave to Bob!