Joanne Taylor

RedBox

Tallahassee
FL

Now experiencing retirement, Joanne Taylor wonders how she ever had time for a full time job. Her community leadership roles, dedication to yoga, and international travel adventures now consume most of her days and continue to bring excitement and happiness into her life. She can speak for hours about her involvement in these various activities, and it is clear how important each one is to her overall lifestyle. “It’s the mental and physical stimulation that keeps me engaged and excited for each day,” says Joanne, and the plethora of daily engagements prove just how committed she is.

 Joanne typically enrolls in about six classes per semester with the Osher Life Learning Institute (OLLI) at Florida State University. Her classes have ranged from the study of Islam to a tutorial for using the iPhone. Joanne has become a strong advocate for OLLI, working with staff and other members to create a community of over 700 participants in her area. Their efforts have contributed to funding for communal activities and also scholarship programs for students at Florida State. OLLI members also have the opportunity to travel together through programs such as the Semester at Sea. Joanne has taken full advantage of these opportunities and raves about her time visiting Central and South America. Currently she is preparing for her upcoming trip to Europe and Russia. She explains that the trips offer much more than adventure; they introduce new friends and new memories.  

Over the years Joanne has become involved with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, working on their fundraising efforts and helping to coordinate their annual holiday tour of homes event. Her dedication to organizing this event and recruiting volunteers earned her the Tallahassee Symphony Society Volunteer of the Year award.

With all of her traveling, organizing, and coursework, Joanne finds the necessary time to unwind by practicing yoga regularly. In addition to attending classes, Joanne has learned to adapt to a yoga lifestyle by making time for meditation and journal writing. “Yoga has helped me to gain such a positive outlook on life and feeling of physical strength. I have an artificial hip, but yoga has helped me to overlook this hindrance. I don’t even notice it anymore!”

Even with all of her noteworthy accomplishments, Joanne finds her greatest pleasure in her involvement with the pet therapy program sponsored by the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Pet Partners national organization. Her interest in this type of treatment began when she recognized her dog Smudge’s natural ability to connect emotionally with humans and create a sense of comfort. Joanne and Smudge now visit the local hospital and rehab center to help ease pain and evoke the happy feelings of connecting with a friendly pet. Smudge has also become a certified Reading Education Assistance Dog (R.E.A.D.), and uses his talents to visit a school and listen to children as they read. Perhaps one of Smudge’s most gratifying talents occurs when he provides support for children and their families during court hearings. Joanne praises the recent law in Florida that now allows pets in courtrooms, and strongly believes that this can make all the difference for children facing these difficult situations. She is extremely proud of her pet and refuses to take any credit for Smudge’s achievements. Joanne recently accepted Stella Award for unwavering commitment to volunteerism on Smudge’s behalf. Because of his success, Joanne hopes to spread awareness of the positive effects of pet therapy and show support for the new law.

Joanne Taylor is a perfect example of a well-rounded beautiful mind who balances all of her interests with positivity and poise. Despite facing colon cancer and other health obstacles, she continues to challenge her mind and body to new lengths. The self-satisfaction and camaraderie is what keeps her going, and fortunately for the community she hopes to never stop.

 

Written By: Robyn Casper