When Denise Cooke was looking for a therapeutic activity for her daughter Ashley in 2004, she never imagined that it would lead to a second career. Ashley was twelve when she and her mom found Mane Stream, then called the Somerset Hills Handicapped Riding Center. After Ashley started adaptive riding lessons, Denise learned that she could participate by becoming a volunteer sidewalker and the rest, as they say, is history.
Denise began volunteering in the office, helping with mailings, data entry and other administrative tasks. The skill set that caught then Executive Director, Nichola Redmond’s eye, was Denise’s skill with computers and technology. Having spent 10 years as a computer analyst at AT&T, it was clear that Denise would be an asset to the team and she joined the staff in 2005. One of her first tasks at Mane Stream was to help develop our very first donor/client database in FileMaker. And, 5 years later she was instrumental in transferring this database to the more robust program we use today.
Through the years, as the technology demands have grown with the size of the program, we have continually relied on Denise’s expertise. Her accomplishments include implementing our first server, first 2 websites, maintaining and upgrading all of our technology (which includes our finicky phone system!) and developing and maintaining our critical databases.
Nicola also relied on Denise’s more creative side for assistance with all the galas and fundraising events where she exceled in the creation of program ad journals and invitations. One of her most valued skills among the staff is her unrivaled ability to coax any printer to print on ANY size and type of paper, thus saving Mane Stream money by being able to print invitations, brochures and other marketing material in-house. Her grammar is impeccable and, as the mom of a child with special needs, she has been an invaluable resource for everyone at Mane Stream.
Although much of Denise’s work has been behind the scenes at Mane Stream, over the years she has developed many friendships with our riders and their parents. She has been an important link to the parents of our participants, having shared hours of watching their children’s progress during weekly riding lessons.
While Denise’s extensive knowledge of our donors and participants as well as her friendly smile for our clients and their parents in the waiting room will be sorely missed, we are happy that she will be able to relax and spend more time with her family.
Please join the staff and Board of Mane Stream to celebrate Denise’s retirement
in our lobby on Wednesday, June 21 from 4pm-6pm. RSVP appreciated.