After years of teaching at White Oak Primary School, retired teacher Paula Hale’s love of children is what now motivates her to devote time as a community volunteer. One very special child has guided Mrs. Hale to volunteer her service to Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas, a premier accredited center that enhances the lives of individuals with disabilities through equine assisted activities and therapies.
“My granddaughter, Olivia, who has Moebius Syndrome, has ridden horses there for six years,” Mrs. Hale said. “The progress she has made in her physical stamina and balance is amazing. The Christ-centered atmosphere of Windridge is so inspiring.”
Mrs. Hale devotes time writing thank you notes to those who donate silent auction items for the center’s annual Horse & Rider fundraising event and open house held in April each year. The event offers the community an opportunity to celebrate riders’ therapy and riding achievements.
“I wish more people would attend the open house each year to watch the progress of the children,” Mrs. Hale said. “Each person would leave with a lump in their throat and hope in their heart.”
In addition to her volunteer service for Windridge, Mrs. Hale is the program coordinator and presenter for WHO (We Help Ourselves), an educational program that helps children and teenagers learn how to avoid victimization, including child abuse and neglect, violent assault, kidnapping, peer pressure, domestic violence and emotional abuse.
Mrs. Hale was born in Beaumont, Texas, and has been a local resident for 36 years. She graduated from Henderson High School, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at Tyler. She is past president of the White Oak Parent Teacher Association and a lifetime PTA member. Mrs. Hale and her husband, Jack, have been married 44 years and have three grown sons and daughters-in-law. She teaches first grade Bible class at Pine Tree Church of Christ.
“My desire to volunteer has always been motivated by my love for all children,” Mrs. Hale said. “Many organizations which benefit children rely on volunteers in order to function. Volunteering is a way for me to give back some of the blessings I have received from the Lord.”