Member Stories

Donita Smith, CEOE, EOPO President 2007-08, 2009-11

Photo of Donita

I joined Educational Office Professionals of Ohio in 2002. Judi Ross, our Superintendent’s Executive Assistant, was the president at the time and asked me if I would do a newsletter for her. Little did I know, that by agreeing to do something I enjoyed I would not only be a member of EOPO but, I was also on the Board of Directors.  Judi gave me that news after the fact.

I learned a lot from the ladies that came before as Presidents and members. I was privileged to meet the founders Martha LMartha and Lilaeach and Lila Van Swerigen. I was honored when they showed faith that I could be President as well. I now do public speaking with confidence. I served as the Newsletter Editor, President Elect, President and Membership Director.


I was privileged to serve on the National Association of Educational Office Professionals (NAEOP) Board of Directors. I was appointed the High School/Career Technical Council Chairman and I was elected as the Northeast Area director.

We offer professional development, but the friendships, encouragement and support offered from the members of this organization is beyond measure. I have made lifelong friends across the state and the nation by being in this wonderful organization.

Donita and Past Presidents




Mary Beth Smith, EOPO Past President, EOPO President 2017-2019

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Hello, my name is Mary Beth Smith. I live in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (in a log cabin on Hidden Valley Lake), however work in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am the Executive Assistant to the President/CEO at Great Oaks Career Campuses. This is my 32nd year at Great Oaks and have worked in many different capacities. I have been married to Denny for 40 years, have two grown daughters (Michelle and Amy) who have blessed me with wonderful son-in laws and a total of seven grandkids.

I enjoy kayaking, antiquing, visiting wineries and spending time with my family and friends. I try to attend as many of my grandkids sporting and school events as I can, which keeps me very busy. My favorite vacation place is Santa Fe, New Mexico. I love the ambiance of this cute little town as well as the food and people there.

I have been a member of EOPO since 2006. I have served on the board for the past fourteen years in different roles: Newsletter Editor, Ways & Means Chairman, Vice-President, President and currently as Past-President.

I have also been a member of NAEOP since 2006. I have served on committees for the past seven years and served on the national board as the High School/Career Technical Education Council Chairman for two years.

I am very grateful to be a member of EOPO and NAEOP, and I want to thank Donita Smith for introducing me to these organizations. I have met so many new friends and acquaintances over the past fourteen years. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and serve on a committee or as a board member for one of these organizations. I look forward to many more years of being a part of EOPO and NAEOP.

MBS FAmilyMBS Girls




Beth-Anne Zaenger, CEOE

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I worked for the Worthington Schools, suburb of Columbus, Ohio. I started there in 1996 and worked in the Gifted and Talented Office as their administrative assistant for 17 years, until I retired in 2014. I loved my job and the people I worked with, especially my bosses. They were always supportive of my joining EOPO. I joined EOPO at the urging of my friend Bonnie Turner and felt a part of it from the beginning. Everyone made me feel so welcome, especially Esther Nesselroad. She was President of EOPO the year I joined. It was during my years with EOPO that I decided I wanted to earn my CEOE. I began taking college classes at Columbus State. I earned my CEOE in May of 2004 in Boston and also was Educational Office Professional for the year 2004-05. After earning my CEOE I decided to continue my classes and graduated with a Business Administration degree in 2008. I was the Treasurer of EOPO for a number of years before I retired. Those years I was a part of EOPO were a great part of my life. I made friends and learned so many things to bring back to the office. I also attended some of the National Conferences: the one in Boston, one in Louisville and one in South Carolina. I would recommend the conferences to anyone interested. I even sang with their choir a couple of times. Earning my CEOE was the highlight of my career and it was amazing to walk across the stage to receive it.

BethAnne and Chris

I love retirement. My husband, Chris, and I retired on the same day, March 31, 2014. A few days later we took off to Arizona for a trip with my sisters. We flew into Phoenix and drove to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and saw so many ruins and beautiful sights. Chris and I have also taken a number of Road Scholar tours. The one to Utah was my husband’s favorite. Zion and Bryce and all of the other parks we saw were magnificent. The beauty of this country always amazes me. My favorite was probably the trip to the Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff and even got to walk on the ice fields. A trip to Chattanooga with my sisters was also a lot of fun. I never knew there was so much to see there.

We have been blessed with two wonderful children, Kevin and Katy, and four grandchildren—four little girls who all have flower names, Lily, Mia Jasmine, Violet and Emmy Rose. Mia lives nearby so we get to see her often.However, the other three live in Ft. Myers, Florida. Thank goodness for FaceTime, although we try to get down when we can.

BAZ Family 1BAZ Family 2

We are celebrating fifty years of marriage this September and had two trips planned. Of course, Covid took care of that. But we did get to the panhandle of Florida with daughter Katy and family. Son, Kevin, was worried about the case rise in Florida so opted out. We have a couple of great trips planned for next year: Death Valley and Canadian Maritimes with my sisters, unless the Covid pandemic is still a worry.

This is our little mini doxie Bella as a baby.

BAZ Bella

I love to travel and have been reading lot since retirement. Louise Penny is a favorite author if you like mysteries. I’m still cooking and plan to crochet each granddaughter a wedding afghan. Chris and I also love singing. Besides church choir, we joined a local choral group, Capriccio Columbus, 14 years ago. Katy’s high school choir director started it and there were 60 of us the first year. Now we are nearing 100 singers, but due to Covid we haven’t been singing and don’t really know when we will be able to get back together.




Evelyn Urbin, Nominations & Elections Director, 2020-2022

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I am Evelyn Urbin and have been a school secretary for twenty-five years. My career includes working in three different school districts, as secretary to a Curriculum Director, Assistant Principal, and Guidance Counselors and currently as the Principal’s Secretary at Westlake High School (WHS). Looking back, I can see how each position prepared me for the next. When our kids were little, I worked part-time at the I-X Center in Cleveland, where I sold tickets to events, and eventually moved to the Accounting office, where I balanced out tellers’ drawers, and helped with the deposits. Little did I know at that time, I was gaining knowledge I use now at Westlake High School, as I am responsible for making our deposits and creating purchase orders, etc. I’m grateful for this current position that I hold at WHS.

I became a member of EOPO over a year ago, as I was looking for a way to improve my professional outlook and career. What an amazing group of women! I especially enjoy the comradery, and energy that is contagious in this group. Being a member of EOPO has helped my career immensely. I’ve benefited from the uplifting speakers at both conferences I’ve attended. I also appreciate the interaction with other members, and always walk away with helpful insights and meaningful suggestions. I also enjoy being involved in our book club discussions. I am looking forward to this opportunity to serve as a member of our Membership Committee.

I have been married for 40 years to my H.S. sweetheart, and we have been blessed with our daughter, Angel (38), and our son, Vince (31). I say “blessed”, because both were preemies, and I am very grateful they survived after their rough starts. Some of my hobbies include reading, playing the piano and baking. I especially enjoy decorating cakes for family and friends.


Evelyn and familyPicture of Evelyn's dogEvelyn's cat


Katherine Reichley, CEOE, EOPO President, NAEOP & PSP Chair

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I started at Otterbein University in 1989 in the Education Department preparing for an Ohio Department of Education accreditation visit. After 24 years I moved to the Academic Affairs Office and serve as the Academic Assessment and Accreditation Specialist. When I started working at Otterbein, I was employed part time while I completed my master’s degree at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (Delaware, OH). After I graduated (1990), I started working full time at Otterbein.

While at Ottterbein, my life has taken a number of turns. I moved to Somerset in Perry County, got married to Tim, and had our son, Dominic. We currently have a 12-year-old miniature long-haired dachshund named Curly. Although access to my electronical files is not the best right now and I miss my wonderful, hardworking colleagues, I do enjoy working from home. My commute is normally 55 miles and two tanks of gas a week so no driving has been great for my time and the family budget.

When I was serving in a leadership role for the University Staff Council, I started looking for professional organizations for educational office professionals. I quickly found NAEOP and joined immediately. It was not until some time later I joined EOPO after finding it highlighted in a NAEOP publication. I connected with a board member in the Columbus area and got signed up for my first conference soon after. This spring I participated in both the NAEOP and EOPO book groups.

A few of my favorite things are knitting, sewing, making jam, sudoku puzzles, writing, and this summer I look forward to gardening. I have even entered some of my knitting and jam in the Perry County Fair the last few years. We have a sewing group at my church with meetings once a month to make things for other people. We have done blankets, burp clothes, and bibs for local agencies as well as pillow case dresses for overseas. Since we cannot get together right now, I have been doing a lot of face masks for our church food pantry and others.

Face masks made by KatherineKatherine with face masksItems Katherine has sewnItems Katherine entered in fair with ribbons


Leanne L. Long, EOPO Past President 2004-2006

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My name is Leanne L. Long. I work at the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio as an Administrative Assistant in the Special Education/HR Department. I started in 1978 when the ESC employed less than 100 people and now there are over 1,500 employees scattered across northeast Ohio. The offices have moved three times to bigger and newer places and I have done many and various jobs including Superintendent’s Secretary.

I have reinvented my position in pupil services to fit the needs of the ever-changing ESC to pick up necessary tasks. I am in charge of various specific tasks that occur at different times of the year such as updating the 80 page staff handbook, updating parts of the ESC website on personnel, updating board policy manuals, NCSSA subbing, insurance minutes, all contracts with vendors and every student agreement and contractual agreements for services within the Cuyahoga County lines to name a few.

Martha Leach was very inspirational in getting me involved in EOPO. In 1978 I went to the very first conference held in this region at St. John’s Cathedral, in downtown Cleveland. A unique place for a conference –and yes we sat in the pews and took notes. I don’t remember the topic but it was a beautiful setting! Martha personally met each of us newbies as she called us and took personal time with us. There were about 80 members at that conference.

Soon after I was elected President of the Cleveland Chapter of EOPO – the Greater Cleveland Educational Office Professionals Association meetings were held at the ESC offices on Canal Road in Valley View. My superintendent, at the time, loved the idea that we had those meetings for secretaries from schools across the county. Attendance was good until it wasn’t and GCEOPA folded. A sign of the times in the late 80’s. However, that sense of collaboration and comradery still hangs on today as my ESC still holds administrative assistant networking meetings at our building and I’ve seen three other superintendents since. EOPO meetings have been held at the ESC also.

I feel the learning we administrative assistants need to share with each other is so vital that I have tried to convey with coworkers and superintendents how important it is to have these meetings and conferences and so it continues. Hence, I was President of GCEOPA and then EOPO for two years. Without that experience and believe me, it wasn’t easy, but it was always rewarding. I learned so much which I believe would not have put me in my position today which gives me the confidence to speak to administrators, coworkers and other staff with knowledge, pride and mutual respect. I learned to speak in front of a crowd, but I still get nervous. I managed to put together a few workshops for other secretaries and at an administrator conference where I helped present a secretary rubric for excellence and self-evaluation which is still used today.

Certificate of Recognition

My ESC administrators were so proud that when I passed the gavel to the next EOPO President, Cindy Goga – they ALL came to Columbus to the installation dinner to watch, the Treasurer, Superintendent, Directors, Coworkers. That was a special memory. Along with that the ESC Board gave me a special Commendation Resolution plaque that I have hanging in my home office.

The best professional development that always helped me was the type that wasn’t about learning google but about helping people understand other people and understanding yourself.

The very best EOPO conferences over the years I’ve been a member are the ones I’m driving the two hours home to Cleveland alone having a heart to heart with myself about what I just learned and most of the time involving some tears because the speakers are so uplifting and I needed to hear it! That’s the inspiration that EOPO does for you if you are just joining. Get involved – get to know people like yourself. You will not regret it.

EOPO and the ladies who mentored me throughout the years have a very special place in my heart not to mention the friendships acquired. I say thank you to them here even if I haven’t said it to them directly. We all know who we are.

If I had any suggestion to anyone starting out in the educational office field today. I would never waiver from the 41 years of experience I have by saying keep learning – faster and faster technology is a given. Use the technology. Be kind, don’t gossip, and check facts first, be tactful, be proactive, and don’t be afraid of change, accept challenges and be your best self.

Above all as I reflect, I had a four-year son, seven and nine year old daughters to raise, basically alone when I divorced 29 years ago. He was not in their life for 20 years. However, I kept consistency going. It was my sanity. Now, they are responsible adults with their own families and career driven. I see they saw the consistency I made back then between home and work. It was together. Be consistent in all you do at work, home, play and prayer and how you treat people. Do consistent excellent work. It does pay off.

Hobbies? I will retire in about a year. I have 5 grandchildren – 4 of which are almost 4 years old (set of twins) all exactly 6 weeks apart and one just turned one year old. No, I’m not opening a daycare – although I’ve been asked! I’m writing adventure stories for two grand girls – one is fairy story adventures and creating a scrapbook with trinkets I’ve found around the house. “Lula” is a fairy that lives at Grammy’s house who hides trinkets. The other is friendly monster adventure stories featured with the little monster creature next to one of pictures I’ve painted! As I write the adventure stories, I’m telling about family members since they are scattered in different states, so they learn about extended family. My artist daughter will take these pictures from the phone (since they live in PA) and make a photo book from it. I expect to keep up these stories through the end of a year, but my daughters want me to keep going – ha! We’ll see.

In these COVID-19 days as I’ve cleaned out closets and drawers, I’ve gathered all my art supplies and sewing supplies and journal books in one place! I like to draw and paint and I love to sew. Oh, so much to do and so much to share with the little ones.

Keep doing your important work for the students in Ohio!

Thank you for allowing me to share.


Leanne's GrandsLeanne and Scarlet


Mary Anne Ursick, CEOE, EOPO Awards Chair

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My name is Mary Anne Ursick and I am the Executive Assistant for the Vice-President for Student Affairs at Ursuline College. In my position, I also oversee all aspects of the college commencement ceremonies which has added Commencement Coordinator to my title. I have worked at Ursuline College for nineteen years. Prior to working in my present position, I was an administrative assistant for the Ursuline College Athletic Department. My office career started 48 years ago when I worked as a technical editor and proposal coordinator for fourteen years in a government-owned company.  Once I started my family, I took a fourteen-year hiatus from the office to be a full-time Mom and raise four children.

In 2017, I attended the EOPO Fall conference. It was so informative. After attending, I was made aware of the national organization and became a member of NAEOP. As a member of NAEOP, I began receiving information about their upcoming yearly conference which was being held in Minneapolis. I became interested. I was granted professional dollars for the first time since I had been employed and I chose to use it for the NAEOP conference. It was one of the best decisions of my professional life. I went to the conference not knowing anyone; however, once I signed up, NAEOP gave me a mentor to help me prior to arriving at my first NAEOP conference. My mentor was Mary Beth Smith. Mary Beth was also from Ohio. She began emailing me and telling me what to expect at the conference, what to pack for the conference, and invited me to dinners and events with other Ohio members. My first day at the conference, I met Mary Beth, in person, at the First Timers event and the rest is history. She introduced me to other Ohio members who were so unbelievably nice and funny and they were so welcoming to me. The conference was so enlightening. I could not wait until the following year to attend again. One of my new EOPO/NAEOP friends, Kelly Rocco, reached out to me prior to the following year’s conference and I was able to join the Ohio EOPO group every step of the way from the plane ride to the conference to the plane ride to return home.

During my second conference, which was held in Boise, I became interested in the NAEOP Certified Educational Office Employee certification. I had acquired many certificates from my NAEOP and EOPO conferences, I already had an associate degree, and I also had participated in other professional development classes on campus. I was fortunate to have met Katherine Reichley at both of my NAEOP conferences and at EOPO conferences that I attended. Katherine was now President of EOPO and gave me an incredible amount of assistance in getting all the needed documents together. In January of 2020, I received my PSP Certificate (Associate Degree) as well as my CEOE designation.

In Fall of 2019, a position came up on the EOPO board for the EOPO Awards chair. Katherine asked me if I was interested in the position. It was an opportunity to be a bigger part of this fine organization. I accepted. Through this board position, I am meeting more amazing members.

In my personal life, I have been married to my husband Denny for 39 years. I have four amazing and successful grown children. Three of my children (Matt, Marc, and Monica) are CPA’s. My daughter (Marissa) is a Physical Therapist (DPT). I have six grandchildren, three boys and three girls (Graham, Delaney, Maela, Brewer, Jack and Collins) who are truly the light of my life. Just thinking about them brings me joy. I also have a silver lab (Ellie).

Mary Anne and the MuppetsMary Anne with child


Lucy Morgan, EOPO Sunshine Chair

Photo of Lucy My name is Lucy Morgan. I am the Budget Specialist for Bethel Tate Local School District for almost two and a half years now. I’ve spent the majority of my career working in finance with the Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio and Saint Ursula Academy. My positions have required skills in accounts payable/receivables, payroll, and benefits. I had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students and managed the Work-Study program, which assisted students in covering their tuition. I left Saint Ursula to care for an ailing family member and to explore other career possibilities, spending a couple of years as an educational aide and then an elementary school secretary. However, as many of you can relate, my love of budgets, payables, receivables, and payroll called me back to my current position.

I have been married to my husband David “Tony” for 37 years, and we are blessed to have one child, Lauren. Lauren and her husband have blessed us with three beautiful granddaughters. They live in St. Louis, so I can’t spoil them daily; therefore, we adopted a puppy a few years ago. He is a little Maltipoo named Swiffer, who brings us endless joy.

Besides work, and time with those mentioned above, I enjoy a large extended family, taking long walks with my husband, Swiffer or friends, gardening, traveling, board games, and a glass of good wine.

I was introduced to the EOPO by Coleen Vogelgesang of Mariemont School District. Coleen and I worked together at Saint Ursula, and I am fortunate to call her my friend. She inspires me with her energy and thirst for knowledge. At her recommendation of EOPO, I signed up as a member two years ago, and I jumped on as a Board member this year.

I look forward to meeting more members and learning from your knowledge and experience. Thank you for welcoming me to your group.


Coleen G. Vogelgesang, EOPO Nominations & Elections Director

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My name is Coleen G. Vogelgesang, and I’m the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent at Mariemont City School District. I’ve held several positions in my career, such as Human Resource representative at Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati for seventeen years; I owned my own Jazzercise Franchise for ten years, which consisted of 12 instructors, three different locations and over 300 clientele. I sold my franchise to take a job at St. Ursula Academy (which is a private girl’s school) as the Athletic Director Assistant. Both of my girls attend school, so the paycheck and the tuition discount was much appreciated. The hours in the Athletic department are very long, and I left this job and took an 8:00-4:00 job in development. The development position offered me the opportunity to go back to school and get my Bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. Once I obtained my Bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University, I took on the job of Executive Assistant at Mariemont City School District. You see, I graduated from Mariemont many years ago, and I liked the idea of giving back to a community that gave so much to me growing up. I’ve worked for Mariemont since 2014 and decided in 2016 to return to Northern Kentucky University and obtain my Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on Non-Profit Management. I will graduate in the Fall of 2020. In addition to working and going to school, I recently obtained my Water Aerobics Instructor certification. I love the pool atmosphere, and motivating others to move is something I enjoy.  

I’m the proud mother of four children, Victoria (Tori), Steven, Cathleen, and Will, and I recently became a Mother in Law to Cathleen’s husband, Josh. The wedding was June 2019, thank goodness it wasn’t the summer of 2020 (COVID-19). I’m proud to say all of my children were able to obtain a college degree (something I did not have the opportunity to do right out of high school), and they all played a sport in college. My daughter Tori is getting her Doctorate in Higher Education and attends Northern Kentucky University, where she works with Americore (her undergrad is from Wittenberg, where she was a star on the Field Hockey team. Steven obtained his degree in I/O Psych from Azzuza Pacific, California (he played baseball), and is now working toward his Journeyman’s license to be an electrician. Cathleen graduated from Stetson University in Florida with a degree in Sports Management; she also was on the Varsity crew team through her college career. Will attends Miami University, where he is one of the starters for the D1 baseball team, and is majoring in Public Health. Oh, by the way, we all love baseball, and my husband and I coached fastpitch and baseball for years. My husband (Dick) and I will be celebrating our 35th  wedding anniversary in the summer of 2020. If you know me personally, you will agree, “He is a Saint.”  

I was introduced to EOPO by Mary Beth Smith from the Great Oaks program.  She kept sending me information about the organization, and I finally became curious.  The first EOPO conference I went to, I traveled alone and didn’t know anyone in the group (other than my brief emails with Mary Beth). I showed up and couldn’t have felt more at home what a great group of educational office professionals. As you can see from my resume above, I’m not one to just sit back and watch, so I jumped in with this group with both feet and became an EOPO Board member. The EOPO conferences always offer a meet and greet and professional development that helps me to grow professionally and individually. Some of the topics from our conferences are how to physically and mentally take care of yourself, how to balance work and home life, the art of feng shui, safety, and security (physically and cyber), just to name a few.

I know I could call on any of my EOPO members for professional or personal advice.  Again, I can not stress enough what a GREAT group of office professionals I get the opportunity to call my friends and co-workers.  

Coleen at WorkWedding Photo of Coleen's Family Coleen at the pool


Michele Newton, CEOE, EOPO Webmaster

Photo of Michele I originally joined EOPO in the mid-80s when I was the Vocational Guidance Secretary at Kenston High School and going to college part time. In 2005, I worked with Cindy Goga at the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County and she suggested I join EOPO. I attended the 2006 Spring EOPO Conference when Cindy was installed as EOPO's President and I've been hooked since. One of Cindy's goals was to get EOPO on the worldwide web. While taking classes for my Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program, I developed the original EOPO website and then redesigned it for my final project. Since 2019, EOPO went with another web service and they designed the present website.

I grew with my career in education from a student faculty secretary while enrolled in Cooperative Office Education to the Controller of the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County when I retired after 38 years of service. While working full time, I attended Kent State University part time and earned my Associate Degree in Accounting Technology, Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, and  Master of Science. I thoroughly enjoyed my position as controller and working with grants and budgets for  special programs.

In April 2008, I became a member of the National Association of Educational Office Professionals (NAEOP) in order to obtain a national certification.  In September 2008, I received certification of completing the requirements for the Bachelor Degree, Option II certificate for the Professional Standards Program (PSP) and the distinction of Certified Educational Office Employee (CEOE). At the July 2009 NAEOP Annual Conference, I attended the PSP Banquet and received recognition of my certificate. At this conference, I attended NAEOP's 2-day Institute and made a friend for life. Over the years I've attended seven conferences and plan to attend the one in Utah. I believe in being a life long learner.

Since my EOPO membership in 2006, I have enjoyed being a member on the Scholarship, Web Design, Ways and Means, and Auditing committees. In 2009, I became the EOPO NAEOP PSP chair and was officially appointed as the EOPO Webmaster.  I love being a helper and even served on the NAEOP Bylaws and Website Committees. I was recruited to be a member of  the NAEOP Educational Foundation's Marketing & Corporate Sponsorships Committee. I have made wonderful friends and connections as a member of both EOPO and NAEOP.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to attend national conferences the past couple of years. I miss seeing friends and providing input from my experiences in the education realm while attending the conferences. I thoroughly enjoy learning at the state and national conferences. The keynote speakers have been very invigorating and even as a retiree, I am able to apply what I learn.

In retirement, I volunteer two mornings to paint fences or benches and one morning at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library in Colonial Williamsburg. While painting fences, I have met many different people. At the library, I am working with the Williamsburg Area Resident files by looking at the Historical House Reports. My husband and I enjoy walking in Colonial Williamsburg and traveling to the mountains. The winters are so much better than Northeast Ohio, so we've enjoyed relocating. Our son relocated to Williamsburg, so it has been great to have him nearby. We dog sit Mocha. She's a character. I enjoy taking daily walks and sometimes Mocha does, too! Reading, gardening, hiking, cooking from scratch, and baking have been added to my daily life of retirement.

Michele hikingGreat Lake