There are special people in this world that serve to lift others. Their strength provides a reference point in times of trouble, something unswaying and stable. Some of these special people are further distinguished by the ways in which they lift others. They do so in a way that motivates those they’ve helped to pass it forward, to do the same for others. Jo Ayon is one of these people.
And now Jo could use some help. More on that in a minute. But first, let me tell you about Jo Ayon.
Jo is the office manager at Rio Rico High School, which serves about 1,200 students. The mother of three children, Jo began working at Rio Rico HS to be closer to her children as they went through school. Jo stayed after her kids graduated because she served a great purpose at the school. With her organizational and people skills, joyful nature (always laughing), and compassionate touch, she soon became a foundational piece of what Rio Rico High School was to become … an amazing place to be, for students and teachers.
Over the past handful of years I’ve gotten to know Jo a little bit. We’ve had a lot of laughter-filled exchanges as I’d stop by her office to get a piece of candy (she has a bowl of candy on her desk that serves as bait, to get people to stop by and say hello). But we’ve also had some deep conversations where it became evident that her pragmatic approach combined with strong faith provide her with guidance and stability in times of trouble.
On one of these trips to her office before school Jo and I talked about how we hated to throw away paper clips, especially the large ones. We laughed as we both discussed the lengths we’d go to in order to rescue would-be discarded large paper clips as it just felt wasteful and wrong to let them be thrown out. It was a meaningless, silly exchange in regards to the content, but an uplifting way to start the day.
The following day I stopped by Jo’s office with a large paperclip and handed it to her. I told her it was a good one, one she should save, just for in case a large stack of papers needs to be grouped together. “This is a good one,” I told her. “Hold onto it, for a rainy day.”
A few months later I suffered a closed-head injury and had a pretty severe traumatic brain injury, among a slew of other complications and injuries. The severity of the accident was such that a broken collarbone went undiagnosed for about a month. By this time I was back at work, though I was suffering from frequent confusion, slowed cognitive response and depression (due to the TBI). The discovery of the broken collarbone was more devastating to me than it should’ve been. Jo noticed my demeanor and reached out. We had a brief talk and she tried to cheer me.
Later that day I found something truly surprising in my mailbox at work. After our conversation, Jo decided to return the paper clip to me. She taped it to the top of a piece of paper. On the piece of paper was a silly poem of sorts, written to encourage me and lift my spirits. I took the poem, paper clip and all, and hung it on my wall, next to my desk in my classroom. It serves to lift my spirits to this day.
My relationship with Jo is special, but not unique. Everybody that knows Jo has this kind of relationship with her. She is a light and a rock, lifting and providing stability for all around her. And now she is the one in need of help.
Jo, mother of four, grandmother of four, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Peritoneal cancer. The cancer is stage 3 and she requires surgery and chemotherapy. In typical Jo fashion, she is taking this head-on, comforting those saddened by the news, saying that she’s ready to face whatever lies ahead.
Jo and her family will be facing some steep financial obligations as she fights cancer. I’d like to offer two ways in which you can help.
The first way you can help is to help spread Jo’s story by sharing this. The second way involves opening your wallet and sending a few dollars Jo’s way. You can do this one of two ways. First, either send some money to Jo’s GoFundMe, set up by her daughter. The second way is a fundraiser that Arizona’s Working Poor is running. If you purchase an Arizona’s Working Poor shirt, 100% of that money will go directly to Jo. To purchase a shirt, follow this link. Since Arizona’s Working Poor is a 501 (c) 3, all of your donations are tax-deductible.
Our goal, here at Arizona’s Working Poor, is to raise $1,000 for Jo. If you’d like to help us reach our goal, please consider purchasing a shirt, or you can donate directly here.