Every month FOX 47 features someone in our community who is making a difference and we honor them with a Jefferson Award.
Our February winner works with community members with disabilities and helps them lead fun and fulfilling lives.
Jo Lowe does just about anything and everything for the Arc of Freeborn County, an organization that provides programming and advocacy work for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
She got involved more than 30 years ago for a personal reason.
"We have a daughter with disabilities, and I started getting involved when she was six and she’s now 43, so quite a few years ago," she said.
She helps with after-school programs, coaches special Olympics, and so much more.
"I started as a volunteer and then became a board member and at one point I was administrative assistant, and then I was director of The Arc for a number of years and in April last year I did retire and I’m now back helping with the programs."
Even five years ago, after a house fire severely damaged her and her family’s home, she continued to give back to The Arc.
"We didn’t lose our lives and the things that we had we were able to replace so it was just kind of important to keep your things in perspective," Lowe explained.
The current Program Director of The Arc, Jessica Walters, nominated Jo for the Jefferson Award.
"She knows exactly what our individuals want when it comes to the programming and such," said Walters. "So I’m not having to guess. She knows them so much better than I have, and yeah she just knows."
For Jo it’s all worth it just to see the participants happy.
"People with disabilities are just like the rest of us and it’s important that they have a chance to realize their dreams and their hopes and have their choices that all of us want in life," Lowe said. "And that’s what I have tried to do as a volunteer and working for The Arc to give them those choices."
Lowe now dedicates about 10 hours a week now to the Arc of Freeborn County.
If you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here.