“It was until death do you part, and that’s how it happened for me.  But now I still can’t part with him, even though he’s dead, so I’m trying to move on with my life” – Joanne

When her husband died of cancer, Joanne dedicated her life to raising their son in Rohnert Park. As her son needed her less, she realized her role as homemaker had to change. A bittersweet milestone for any mother, she searched for a job and completed several online applications. With a gap in her employment history, she found the process was difficult and didn’t yield results. Through word of mouth, Joanne learned of an opportunity to be a crossing guard for a Santa Rosa school.

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During the school week, Joanne parks her car nearby a busy intersection and safely guides students and families across the street at the start and end of the school day. She drives a Volkswagen her son gave her for Mother’s Day last year. This is her first year as a crossing guard, and she’s learning quickly. She says she can’t worry about holding up the cars. It’s her job to get the kids safely across the street, not manage the traffic. With a smile on her face regardless of the weather, she has a cheerful greeting for everyone who passes her; moms, dads, grandparents, neighbors and children. She really enjoys seeing so many involved fathers walking alongside their children, something her generation didn’t experience.

Joanne, crossing guard

Joanne is literally at a crossroads in her life. Underneath her cheerful exterior lies a broken heart. “It was until death do you part, and that’s how it happened for me.  But now I still can’t part with him, even though he’s dead, so I’m trying to move on with my life” she said.  This crossing guard job is her first step. When asked what’s next, she mentions cosmetology school and her desire to help women in in their 50’s take better care of themselves. For now, she is proud she’s raised a “good kid” who is living his own life. But she is quick to mention that nowadays kids come back home and that would be ok with her, too.

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