Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Remembering Hope Volunteer Joyce Johnson

Joyce Johnson, the epitome of a dedicated volunteer, passed away on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in a car accident in North Fort Myers while on her way to a morning shift as a cashier at Hope Chest.

Joyce began her service to Hope in June 2004. She came into the store (and our lives) as a smartly dressed meticulously groomed 75 year-old lady who positively impacted the lives of everyone who met her. Never a hair out of place, her usual array of 5 pairs of earrings at one time, her multiple gold chains around her neck - Joyce’s appearance hid well her down to earth sense of humor and love of food – especially all things chocolate, preferably with salt. Her Hope Chest co-workers became like a second family to Joyce, and they marveled at her ability to eat a multi-layered burger on a bun without leaving a crumb. No to-go box for Joyce. If it was on the plate when served, it was meant to be eaten!

Joyce’s love for her family was immeasurable. Her son, Corky, and granddaughter, Rhianna, whom she helped to raise and who called her Mom, live locally and played prominent roles in her daily life. Her daughter Lauren lives elsewhere and visited often. Lauren was enlisted many times to come to work with her Mom when she was here visiting – Joyce’s work ethic would not allow her to miss her scheduled shift if she could find a way not to. Her granddaughter was also recruited by Joyce and, for a time, was an active volunteer with Hope Chest. Corky was “on call” to come when his Mom needed him – especially if she locked her keys in the car – with the motor still running.

Joyce reminisced often about her time with the love of her life, her deceased husband, Charles. She spoke of their travels together while Charles was employed as a Corporate Officer of a major nationwide business. She proudly showed the diamond necklace she always wore and explained the significance of it in hers’and Charles’ life together.

Despite coping with a major health issue in the past few years, Joyce never faltered in her dedication and commitment to Hope Chest. As she went through a long recovery period and was absent from the store for months, she still made time to stay in touch with her good friends there, and they with her. She refused offers of help from them, instead wanting to “tough it out” on her own. And she did!

Joyce came back to us at Hope Chest, appetite as robust as ever, working as many shifts as she could possibly manage, with the same bright smile and cheerful greeting to all each time she took her position behind the cash register. In a recent conversation with her bagger assistant on a Thursday afternoon, Joyce wondered aloud about “what happens to who I am when I die – I know what will happen to my body, but what about who I am?"

The response to that would have been - "Who you are, Joyce, lives on in those you have nurtured and loved – the essence of you, never dies."