Joy’s House is a FamilyJanuary 22, 2020
One word that is used a lot to describe Joy’s House and our culture is family. It’s how our Guests and caregivers, our volunteers, our staff, and our friends describe this special organization. If you’ve had any sort of role or connection here in the past 20 years, chances are, you’ve felt it too. And once you’re family, you’re always family.
On the first episode of our Caregiver Crossing Podcast of 2020, we chatted with four of our favorite women ever. They not only embody the feeling of our Joy’s House family, but they are literally family among themselves. Miss Mattie, her daughter Theresa, and her granddaughters Erricka and Makenzi are woven tightly into the beautiful threads that make up the Joy’s House story. To know them is to love them. And to hear them talk about Joy’s House? Grab the tissues and get ready for all the hugs.
It all started with Theresa. Twenty years ago, Theresa, along with her sister and her mother, stumbled upon a yard sale that was raising money to support a brand-new not-for-profit Adult Day Center in the Broad Ripple community. After talking with a few of the volunteers, somebody told her she just HAD to meet Tina. Theresa walked around to the back of the house and found Tina on the floor in overalls and a backwards baseball cap, laying tile. While to the eye it was two people meeting each other for the first time, on the soul level, it was two people becoming family.
A few days later, Tina called Theresa and asked her to join Joy’s House as the Activities Director – the first paid position at this new organization. Theresa calls it a leap of faith, but her faith was strong. “I was a single mom, working for the state, with benefits. I left that for a nonprofit where I wasn’t even sure I would be paid.” But Tina reassured her, “If no one gets paid, I’ll make sure you get paid.”
For both women, it was clearly more than the pay. It was the Guests, their caregivers, the volunteers, and the family that was building within those walls from day one.
Tina and Theresa were surrounded by love and help. Theresa’s mother, now a Guest at Joy’s House, would help in the kitchen and around the house in the early days, when it was maybe five or six Guests in their care. “I would try to help out on my off days,” Miss Mattie reflects. “Help clean, help with what I could do and what needed to be done.”
Theresa’s daughter, Erricka, and her niece, Makenzi, were just kids at the time, but Joy’s House is an integral part of their childhood memories.
“I was twelve or thirteen years old,” Erricka says. “I never thought 20 years later, I would be here.”
Makenzi, only about six years old or so when Joy’s House was founded, remembers getting “all the love and the hugs and the laughter,” and learning unique talents from the Guests. “I learned my first song on the piano here. There was a pink piano and I was taught ‘Heart and Soul’ by one of our Guests.”
While the journeys and seasons of life have led them all on different paths, within the last two years or so, all four women have found themselves back in an integral role at Joy’s House, and they reflect on what this place means to them.
“It’s family,” Theresa says. “Joy’s House means just what it says – joy! At the end of the day we know we’re making a difference in the families’ lives, in the community’s lives. And in the employers’ lives, because we’re helping take away the stress of their employees – the caregivers – because they are bringing their loved one to a warm, safe, LOVING environment.”
“We get paid to love on people!” she continues. “I think that’s the best job in the world. Love on them unconditionally, where they are.”
Theresa’s mother, Miss Mattie, offers perspective as a Guest at Joy’s House: “I just enjoy the people. I just love it. In the beginning and now, right here, I had no idea I’d be coming!” she laughs.
What does Joy’s House mean to Erricka, Staff Accountant and Theresa’s daughter? “Peace. It’s peace for me. Everybody is on the same page to get the job done,” she says. “Being a part of something that’s so much bigger than me – it feels good to be able to be a servant. I just thank Tina for her vision. I’m not sure if she thought it would go this far, but I’m just so grateful God gave her this vision. And that she believes in us enough, to have four generations here – my grandmother as a Guest, my mom as a manager, my little cousin as a manager, and then myself. I’m just so grateful.”
Erricka’s little cousin, Makenzi, serves as the Senior Guest Relations Assistant at Joy’s House. “I really feel honored to be in the position that I am at this time of my life,” she says. “Just thinking of the impact that it made on my life as a kid. And there’s just something about coming back 20 years later, and the culture being the same.”
“Having personal relationships with the Guests, caregivers and families is just amazing. There’s nothing like it. Joy’s House truly is family.”
Miss Mattie, Theresa, Erricka and Makenzi live that feeling every single day – the feeling that Joy’s House truly is family. Their reflections on what Joy’s House means to them shows who we are, why we are here, and why we do what we do.
But we really can’t say what these four women mean to Joy’s House.