By: Cam Low
Valerie Joy B. is this month's Client Cameo. Valerie lives up to her middle name JOY because she is always positive and optimistic and sees the glass half full. Valerie claims she always tries to find the sunny side of things and making people laugh is her oxygen. Because she is so upbeat and maintains such a positive attitude, when speaking with her over the phone, you would never guess she has had so many obstacles in her life, is in a wheelchair and has been fighting many health issues including osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, COPD and other health issues. Valerie's middle name was her mother’s first name and there are now 4 generations of Joy's in her family! She is very proud of her adult children and two granddaughters.
Valerie was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho where her father was a manager at Montgomery Wards. His job took them from Idaho to Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque. She spent her junior high years in Albuquerque and learned quickly about discrimination since they were one of the few Caucasian families in town. It was there that she and her father discovered their love for turquoise jewelry. Her father was promoted to merchandise manager at Crossroads Mall in Boulder during her senior high days. Valerie attended Fairview High School and was a pom pom girl her junior year and a varsity cheerleader her senior year. She worked in the dining room at Fraiser Manor every Friday to pay for her cheerleader uniform and got off work just as the football game would start.
After high school Valerie worked at K-Mart and the phone company Ma Bell, working the switchboard back when they used headphones and plugs! She went on to work in the customer service department where she helped collect phone bills and also did sales, which she did very well at, sometimes making 200% of her sales goals. It was there where she met her husband of 35 years. They married in 1978 and had three children. In 1989 her eldest son was diagnosed with a large brain tumor and survived two brain surgeries. Over the next ten years, Valerie devoted much of her time volunteering at Children's Hospital and helped create a support group called BRAVE (Brain Tumor Resource and Vital Encouragement) for other families going through the same experience. Their family was also ambassadors for the hospital.
Although she was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and her youngest son passed away unexpectedly from complications after a surgery, it did not completely stop her from persevering, staying positive and having a full and active life. Valerie worked a wide variety of jobs including being an office manager, hired contractors and worked in the newsroom and was considered the "gatekeeper" at the Longmont Times call for over seven years. She was also a volunteer for the Multiple Sclerosis Society call-in program for eight years.
Valerie is an avid reader and has read over 700 books. She even wrote a story that Chicken Soup for the Latter Day Saints produced and paid her for. Valerie still has the paperwork that came with the check framed and hanging in her home! She has also been an amateur silversmith for over ten years. She made some turquoise rings and some earrings for a gift shop near Estes Park called the Easten Gallery that sold them. She also makes rings out of sterling silver spoons as well as beaded bracelets. Valerie also enjoys thrifting and finding surprise treasures such as numbered prints and crystals. She misses all the volunteering she used to do and is hopeful to find something in the future to fill that void.
Valerie has been a Cultivate Carry-Out Caravan Client since 2019. She loves when our volunteer Annette answers the phone to take her orders because Annette always knows what she wants to order and the delivery drivers are also wonderful. She says our program is so dependable and makes such a difference in her life since she has limited mobility.
Thank you Valerie for sharing your story with us and are so happy that we can provide you with our service. It's a JOY having you as a loyal and grateful client!
About Cam Low:
Cam Low, a Boulder Native, enjoys the outdoors, practicing yoga, listening to live music, and spending time with her friends and family. As an avid Buffs fan, she is a devoted volunteer with the CU Boulder Alumni Chapter and Buffs4Life. She joined the Cultivate family in March 2020 as a Business Development and Program Specialist. Cam is passionate about helping seniors and eager to introduce Cultivate clients to other people within the Cultivate Community, further encouraging the connection and relationship between clients, volunteers, donors, and staff.
Our wonderful clients are integral members of the Cultivate family! Each month we will feature their stories in Client Cameo. If you are interested or know anyone else who would like to be featured, please contact Cam Low at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help seniors flourish by reconnecting them—as recipients and contributors—with their surrounding communities.