Remembering Joy Hollins . . .

June 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

JoyHollinsThe following article was written by UCP Executive Director Deana Claiborne the day that Joy Hollins passed away. Less than two weeks later, Joy’s father Sam Hollins also passed away. Our hearts go out to the Hollins family in their time of grief.

Joy Hollins was born with severe cerebral palsy that affected virtually every system in her entire body. She needed personal supports for all activities of daily living, and she was not able to speak. Despite these immense disabilities, with the support of her family and friends, Joy was able to achieve an education and she became an integral part of her community. She learned to communicate with others through Morse code by blinking her eyes.

Joy was an active member of the Woodmont Baptist Church. She loved UCP Sports Night, and she never missed UCP picnics and many agency-wide get-togethers. She particularly enjoyed our Halloween parties where her costumes were always characteristic of her innovation and wonderful sense of humor. She and UCP immediate past president Martin McGrath were great friends. Joy and Martin advocated together on many disability issues.

Joy was an avid reader and life-long learner. The advent of computers opened new vistas in her life. Through the use of technology, Joy was able to use one foot to maneuver a tracking device. This allowed her to access a keyboard. Before long, Joy was sending emails and communicating electronically with her many friends.

When Joy was a child, her parents were told to place her in a state institution. This was at a time when many children with severe developmental disabilities were routinely institutionalized. The Hollins chose to keep Joy at home, where she thrived.

Later, when Tennessee depopulated the large state institutions and opened home and community based Medicaid waivers for persons with mental retardation, Joy did not qualify for the waiver programs. Because of her many achievements, it was evident that Joy did not have a cognitive disability. Therefore the funding and supports that were available to people with other types of developmental disabilities in Tennessee were not available to Joy. Joy always believed that supports and services should be supplied in a more equitable way, and she advocated for independent living opportunities for all people with disabilities. Despite being left out of these supports, Joy never expressed any ill will toward those who received them. Instead, she was happy when any person with a disability received a needed support.

Many of Joy’s successes in life can be credited to her persistence and determination. Without the support of her family, and in particular, the untiring care given by her loving mother, Joyce Hollins, many opportunities would have been lost. Joy was always the first to give credit to her mother for all that her mother did to impart quality to her life.

Later in life, when greater medical needs began to emerge, Joy was able to receive some home based medical supports through TennCare. She was worried that the cost of her care would result in her having to be placed in a nursing home. Instead, she died last night, quietly in her sleep, in her own home.

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Entry filed under: General, News.

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