Bonsall woman makes a difference by volunteering

Volunteer Carol Curtis leads a therapy horse carrying a student at REINS therapeutic horsemanship program.
Volunteer Carol Curtis leads a therapy horse carrying a student at REINS therapeutic horsemanship program.

BONSALL – Eight hours a day, five days a week, Bonsall resident Carol Curtis can be found at REINS Therapeutic Horseback Riding program, smiling and working hard. In addition, she volunteers weekly as a teacher’s assistant at Jeremiah’s Ranch College of Adaptive Education in Fallbrook.

Curtis started riding horses at REINS as a student in January of 2008 and began her volunteer work there in January 2011. As a volunteer, Curtis helps care for the equine therapists and lead them during riding lessons. She also happily assists with newsletter folding, envelope stuffing, stamping, and any tasks necessary to help keep the program running smoothly.

According to REINS director Debbie Shinner, “[Carol] is always willing to help do whatever is needed… with a smile on her face. She wants to make a difference in these families’ lives.” Located in Fallbrook, REINS provides physical, mental, and emotional therapy to a wide range of disabled children and adults through the use of carefully supervised horseback riding. This program, serving about 200 weekly students, has four full-time staff members and 14 part-time or contract staff, and greatly relies upon the efforts of volunteers like Curtis to keep the work going. “We could not do this without our volunteers!” said Shinner.

Curtis’ volunteer efforts as a teacher’s assistant (TA) at Jeremiah’s Ranch College of Adaptive Education (CAE) is of great benefit as well.

Pauline Williams, one of the CAE teachers, said of her, “As a TA in my ‘Reading is Thinking’ class, Carol is a great role model by participating in the class and showing interest in learning new things. She’s quick to recognize who needs help and steps right up. She is happy to volunteer and earn scholarship credits for a future class.”

Curtis also gives of her time as a board member for the CAE.

The College of Adaptive Education is an inclusive, non-accredited “college experience” for all adults with varying abilities, and is paving a new path and pushing the boundaries for lifelong learning. Curtis has also helped at Jeremiah’s Ranch fundraisers and has participated in CAE classes as a student in the past.

Her enthusiasm for learning is contagious. One student, who was initially hesitant to participate in the reading class, became completely involved in the lesson after Curtis began to help him. Her quiet, positive demeanor motivates others to do their best.

While Curtis loves bright colors and “bling,” nothing she wears can outshine her smile. Her countenance beams acceptance and inspiration.

When asked why she volunteers, Curtis promptly replied, “Because I love helping other people and I love being able to make a difference in other peoples’ lives and enriching my own life at the same time!”

Perhaps Curtis’ volunteer work is the secret to her happy and fruitful life: she has made her life better by making life better for others.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, “research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer; volunteering also provides individuals with a sense of purpose and life satisfaction.”

For information on volunteering at REINS, visit www.reinsprogram.org; for information on the College of Adaptive Education, visit www.collegeofadaptiveeducation.org and/or www.jeremiahsranch.org.

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