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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ladies Who Linger in Our Hearts Long After Valentine’s Day

Jo Handwerk and Ruth Wright are the type of women everyone needs in their life.

As Valentine’s Day rolls around, there are so many magnificent ladies in our lives that we can’t let the holiday slip by without mentioning just a few of them. In the last year, both of these special women experienced major health challenges that required hospitalization, causing all of us who love them dearly (and there are literally hundreds who do) much concern.

But as the new year began, both of them experienced major comebacks, making significant strides in their health, as well as their involvement with Watkins. Jo Handwerk is one of the top leaders of our Watkins team, having started with the organization when there was no Internet, no national conference calls, and – believe it or not – no cell phones!

How did this tiny women (she couldn’t be more than five feet max) become one of the top salespeople in Watkins, with thousands of managers and customers who have signed up under her? “I love people. I love talking to them every day, asking them about their life, and how I can make it better. It’s that simple,” says Jo, with that lovely twinkle in her eye.
Now a spry 83 years young, Jo began her home business in the small community of Lillooet, BC, Canada, many years ago. The population in the town proper still hovers around the 2,400 mark. She just wasn’t going to let such obstacles get in her way. Instead, Jo used her special charm to win people over, turn them into customers -- and eventually – new Associates. She became active in her local Chamber of Commerce, making sure she could name everyone on sight. Jo also provided all Chamber members a 10% discount on all Watkins products they purchased.

Even though she had to attend the 2011 Watkins International Conference in a wheel chair due to recuperation from surgery, Jo was named the 4th Top Bronze Manager in the entire company based on the sales of her downline team. She was also named the 1st Place Bronze Manager based on the number of new consultants she brought into her downline during the year. Jo is an inspiration to anyone starting a second career in a small town. “I just tell them, ‘Honey, the only way from here is up!’”
And then there’s Ruth Wright, another little lady with a big heart we met through our local church in Big Bear some five years ago. Ruth officially retired as the church organist at the age of 90, but still fills in when she’s needed.

Ruth was one of the first locals, who signed up as a member of our Watkins Wholesale Shoppers Club when we were just launching our Watkins business back in 2009. She invited us over one day to see her Watkins spice collection, many of the glass bottles purchased from a relative back in the 40s, who was an early Watkins door-to-door salesman. Ruth said we could have her collection for our historical display at public events on one condition – that we sell her brand new replacement tins of every spice Watkins has added to its product line over the years.

2011 was a difficult year for Ruth. The only damage from a minor fender bender was the impact on Ruth’s fierce independence since she had to give up her driver’s license. But Alan and her many friends have developed quite a taxi service that is always there when she has to pick up groceries or check her PO box.

We had planned a 95th birthday party for Ruth following church services on Sunday, Dec 19th. But Ruth was rushed to the hospital just days before with a rapid heartbeat. Doctors had her confined to a wheel chair for weeks, doubting if her frail body could even handle physical therapy. Today, she’s walking again on her own, but chuckles, “I can walk much faster with a strong man by my side.”  

When asked what her favorite Watkins product is, Ruth is quick to respond, “the Ultra-Rich HandCream, of course,” which she uses daily. She manages to go through a jar at least once a month, saying she practically “baths in it.” When she tells people she just turned 95, many claim she doesn’t look a day over 75. Ruth credits her longevity to a few cups of coffee every morning, and her young-looking skin to her Watkins moisturizing cream!

Ruth tells everyone she knows about Watkins, and that includes pretty much everyone in town. We credit Ruth with the latest Associate to join our local Big Bear Country Store Power Team, who happens to be Ruth’s housekeeper. Kim Briones is having her Watkins business grand opening party later this month, and you can bet who wants to be one of the first people to be there to show her support. That’s our Ruthie!