Every now and then someone comes along and restores your faith in human nature; without a doubt, Joy Jurena is one of those people.
Unsurprisingly, although she’s been retired for years now, Joy still retains her RN license.
But retirement was something that Joy couldn’t quite come to terms with! So, despite working hard to disrupt the aging process by exercising daily and eating healthy, Joy joined Omnilore, an adult life-long learning program that she learned of when helping at Manhattan Beach’s flu clinic. Today Joy spends her spare time researching health topics such as Inflammaging—a form of low grade, chronic inflammation brought on by the aging process—and presenting her findings to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) and other groups.
However, it was about nine years ago when Joy was looking for somewhere to take her vegetable scraps for compost that she found a nearby school, met Beach Cities Health District’s (BCHD) Garden Angels and soon joined them.
Joy is with the Garden Angels three days a week, going from school to school in Redondo and Hermosa Beach, doing whatever the beds need, including general garden maintenance, weeding, transplanting, staking peas, tending to the compost or even building new boxes.
While Joy and the other Garden Angels aren’t always there to directly engage with the students, Joy fondly remembers a day when one class was having a compost lesson. Some fresh compost was in a bucket. A couple of students came by and Joy suggested they might want to look for critters. Very soon more students surrounded the bucket, all fascinated with the rolie polies, worms and other critters. It is the camaraderie among the Garden Angels and times like this one that Joy finds so gratifying.
One of Joy’s fellow Garden Angels Ellen Gilman, summarized Joy, noting that “she is devoted to mining for gold—compost gold! Joy spends extra time outside her scheduled gardening days, up to her elbows in compost, spreading her knowledge about composting and healthy living. She always goes out of her way for the benefit of our LiveWell Kids initiative.”
BCHD’s Garden Education Coordinator, Mishell Balzer, expressed her gratitude for all Joy does by noting, “Beyond the hard work that Joy puts in, the Garden Angels always appreciate her clever humor and her nutritional knowledge that she so generously shares with us. I’m grateful to have Joy as a volunteer and recognize what a huge difference she makes in our gardens. She truly is a ‘joy’ to work with.”
Written by Sue Murray, Volunteer Spotlight Writer