Honoree: Sharilyn Penhall
Honored by: Seneca Orange County
Cause Area: Youth Services
Seneca OC is nominating GAIT volunteer Sharilyn (Shari) Penhall, who has volunteered with the program for 15 years! Shari joined us in 2001, when there was still a residential program at the Ranch, serving mainly in therapeutic riding. In a setting where commitment and consistency are paramount to child healing and growth, Shari’s dedication and reliability are valuable assets to our program and those we serve. Her calm presence reassures children, and instructors rely upon her as a knowledgeable assistant. She helps children in all areas of each therapeutic riding session, including grooming, tacking up the horses, leading, mounting, and dismounting. She goes above and beyond to serve children, as well as the animals in our care, as she often brings treats for the horses and chickens. One of the things that stands out most about Shari is her ability to be flexible through 15 years of program changes in structure, staffing, and clients. Through it all, Shari has been able to adapt to new program guidelines and ways of doing things—and always with a willing attitude. She says it has been a good learning experience for her on a lot of levels, showing her desire to keep growing! In addition to working with children, Shari is a tremendous ambassador for the program and enjoys meeting all the people she interacts with through the program, including families, staff, and other volunteers, as well as the animals—her all-time favorite horse was Seria! When asked what she likes most about volunteering, Shari shares how she sees GAIT as an amazing, healing therapy that helps children benefit. She remembers one girl who was very withdrawn and troubled when she started, but went through a transformation after participating in GAIT! Thanks largely to Shari, such children are finding hope and healing both through therapeutic riding and the support of a committed adult mentor.