Jo Ann Orr officially retired 20 years ago, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her schedule. After a 25-year career in the U.S. Army, she continues to serve others by volunteering in her community.
Jo Ann’s main priority is supporting The Sickle Cell Association of Kentuckiana, where she serves as the organization’s marketing and fundraising director. Having lost her son to sickle cell disease, she is keenly aware of the challenges faced by individuals and families of those living with the condition. Whether someone is experiencing a medical emergency or just needs to see a friendly face, she is always ready to help. “That’s seven days a week,” she says of her commitment.
Another area of Jo Ann’s community involvement is helping to alleviate food insecurity. She volunteers at Dare to Care Food Bank distribution centers and delivers meals to seniors through the Meals On Wheels program. “I have to take care of my seniors,” she says. “I’m a senior myself, but I’m still able to move, so for as long as I can, I will.”
Jo Ann is also active in several veteran organizations focused on raising awareness and providing support and resources for veterans, especially women. She speaks at schools, organizes blanket drives and collects donations, and tries to participate in as many veteran events as she can. “While I still can, I feel I should be there for all of those who can’t,” she says.
A Running Start
I like to sleep so I get up as late as I can, depending on the day. Usually I’m out and on the road by 9:30 in the morning. I do Meals on Wheels once a week now, but it was twice a week before COVID-19. On two other days I have Dare to Care, and some weeks I pick up an extra day if there’s a driver shortage. But I never know how long my day is going to be when I get out of bed. I’m also out at events and health fairs and other places to spread the word about The Sickle Cell Association and let people know we’re here, and at any moment I might get a call that someone is sick or needs me at the hospital.
Eating on the Go
My idea of breakfast is a cup of coffee and what I call a roll up. I put a few slices of whatever meat I have left over into a tortilla, throw a little cheese on it, roll it up, and hit the door. If I have more time, I get it in the microwave first to give the cheese a chance to melt. Lunch is non-existent, but I try to grab a nutrition bar or something to keep me going. I do try to sit down and eat dinner, though, usually something light like a salad with some sliced up meat on top. I try not to eat after 6 o’clock and keep to just a little lemon water. It’s supposed to cut down on cravings and keep me off the chocolate, which is my favorite thing. I would say that the world would come to an end without coffee and chocolate.
I grow tomatoes and other things in my backyard, and I have a house full of plants. Right now I’m bringing plants indoors for the winter and doing lots of repotting, which is a calming thing for me. About five years ago I had a hot tub put in, and at the end of the week I like to do a 100-degree soak to let my joints know that I appreciate them. It seats 6 and there’s plenty of room, so I invite some girlfriends over, and they’ll bring a bottle of wine and we’ll hit the hot tub. It’s a nice break.
BY YELENA SAPIN | PHOTOS BY MELISSA DONALD