Joyce has been volunteering at Wellspring since the center opened in 1987.
“Sister Claire used to train volunteers and she insisted that our guests were not clients, they are our guests and deserve our care,” said Joyce.
She raised six children and taught special children. Now, she is teaching at a charter school that prepares adults between 18 and 25 to receive their high school diploma.
“We have classrooms from San Diego to Yreka,” she said. “I just finished with one young man who had to do world history, U.S. history, biology and earth science. It was really great fun. I went back into all of those kinds of things with him – it was interesting looking at history that I lived through and being able to see how they were writing about it.”
Why do you think guest is an important word to use?
“Because the idea is that all the services at Wellspring are freely given,” she said. “It’s hospitality which is a charism of the Sisters of Social Service.”
What does hospitality mean to you?
“A party,” she said.
What does Wellspring mean to you?
“Wellspring is really a very important part of my life because it is a place where I can come and it’s a constant party,” Joyce said. “It’s a place where people are careful about each other and I can share what I have – my gifts – and just be with people.”
Can you talk about your career?
“I raised six children and after they were all grown up, I sold real estate,” she said. “Then I went back and finished up my college degree and got my teaching credential. I taught special education and worked with special children so I am really interested in what is happening here in this corner. It has been designed really well so that the young people who are here get a chance to develop and their parents get a chance to see them develop. I’ve been on the floor with young mothers with babies and have been able to show them how to play with them. It is a really good thing to learn – you don’t automatically learn that playing is growing.”
“The colors – there are labels on everything – the pictures on these blocks,” Joyce said. “It is an opportunity to play with real things. I think Yi [The Children’s Corner Coordinator] may be making a play mixture or a play dough mixture and that is a really wonderful thing – all the math games that they do here, sorting. There is language development. The point is that it is wonderful.”
What does being a teacher mean to you?
“The opportunity to share.”
And what does being a mother mean to you?
“An opportunity to watch my children grow – it has been great.”
What gives you strength each day?
“I pray and meditate.”
What do you think makes Wellspring unique?
“There is community here – people from all walks of life and with all different backgrounds can come in and talk over coffee,” she said. “They can chat in a place with flowers, butterflies, pretty pictures, poetry and caring. It is delightful.”
“What do people who are poor do when they talk to each other,” Joyce added. “They come together to get information about how things work. One of the greatest things about Wellspring is that you can get information from everybody. You get information from the people who you are sitting with and you share what you know. Today, someone was talking about how to make SMUD work and where the new office is.”
What has your working life taught you about people and perhaps about humanity?
“My working life is paying attention to what is good,” she said. “I have to do this as a teacher because my students have difficult times. I try very hard to give my attention to that which is positive and good. I think it is important to look at the good that is here and everywhere and to find it. Not that you ignore the other – it is there – but, it is important to give your attention to what is worth giving your attention to.”