Proudly Supports Our Hometown Heroes: Joy Haley

Joy Haley.

Memorial resident Joy Haley recalls with vividness her childhood growing up in a working-class family with parents, who although had “minimal education,” were persevering providers. Still, times were hard. “Our only safety net was my grandfather, who fortunately swooped in with financial help when necessary,” said Haley, 57, a married mother of two adult children.

To this day, Haley is inspired by her grandfather’s succor, because it demonstrated to her the dramatic impact just one person can have on the lives of so many others. And this is why Haley volunteers. “When I volunteer, I feel that I am helping to provide a safety net for my community, where so many hard-working people do not have a generous grandfather. We can be each others’ safety net.”

A decade ago, Haley joined the National Charity League Houston Hearts chapter with her daughter, who is now 22 years old, which then inspired her to volunteer with Memorial Assistance Ministries. “Memorial Assistance Ministries fully embodies the philosophy, ‘Think globally, act locally,’” Haley said. “The families who utilize Memorial Assistance Ministries’ comprehensive services are my neighbors. They work, send children to school and strive to build better lives for themselves right where I live. We are part of the same community. Our committed volunteers, invaluable staff members and clients are all part of the same fabric that makes Houston the unique city I have grown to love.”

Memorial Assistance Ministries volunteers Joy Haley and Camille Westbrook.

As a volunteer, Haley works in the Holiday and Housewares department of Memorial Assistance Ministries’ resale shop, where she and the other volunteers sort through copious amounts of donations and carts full of useful and decorative items that are priced and put out for sale in the resale shop. “Some days, we have the satisfaction of finding a treasure in a donation box, pricing it, putting it out for display and seeing a happy customer purchase it. It’s a wonderful way of recycling for a worthy cause.”

In previous years with Memorial Assistance Ministries, Haley also interviewed clients – in both English and Spanish – to help identify ways in which the non-profit could assist them. She was also involved in grant writing. “I love the sense of community that I feel at Memorial Assistance Ministries,” she said. “We are a diverse group of volunteers and staff members all united by a common goal. I know exactly where the funds I help to raise are going to be spent – on school uniforms, on medical visits, on ESL and job-training classes – and I feel a deep sense of connectedness to my city.”

Volunteering is a means to nourish a city, said Haley, who also volunteered in her subdivision and in local public schools like Frostwood, Memorial Middle and Memorial High schools. Haley, who was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time volunteer and homemaker, has also mentored a student in Spring Branch ISD since the student was in third grade. “This year, she will graduate from Spring Branch Middle School and begin high school, and I will be with her every step of the journey,” Haley said. “To truly affect change on a personal level, it takes more than policies and programs. It takes a one-on-one commitment sustained over time. I feel such gratitude to have this opportunity.

“Collectively, we reap what we sow. If we want to live in a community where we feel a sense of belonging, safety and opportunity for all, then our individual effort to embody those values is the first step.”


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