The LightHouse remembers our dear friend, Elizabeth Baucum Joyce.
|Elizabeth Joyce and Lisa Brandeburg|
Elizabeth had a heart that cared, especially for the underdogs like those living in poverty. She related so well to the LightHouse kids and there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for them. Her love, generosity, and compassion are evident in our memories.
The word “mentor” wasn’t used back in the day to describe Elizabeth’s relationship with the LightHouse kids, but she was one of our first mentors. She had dozens of mentees who she cared for like her own children and the feelings were mutual. Every Mother’s Day several of the young men at the LighHouse would go visit her to say thank you.
One day, Elizabeth dropped by the LightHouse with boxes and boxes of fried chicken as a snack for the LightHouse kids. The only thing she requested was that they keep the bones, which she picked up the next day, for Bill to transform into decorations for a Halloween party. Bill said the LightHouse kids were doing him a favor eating all the fried chicken!
Elizabeth and Bill also arranged a business trip to New York, so that Elizabeth could be with LightHouse alum, Michael Jackson, when he received the youth volunteer award from Guideposts magazine. Elizabeth said that while strolling about the city, Michael looked up and saw a “Colors of Benetton” sign with people of all colors and countries working and playing together. He said, “That’s how I wish the world would be.” Then, Elizabeth told him, “it is up to you, Michael, to make it like that.”
That day, the seed was planted in Michael’s mind to make his life’s work something through which he could change the world. Michael gives so much credit to his mentor, Elizabeth. “Every day she was there helping with homework. She invited me to her house and we just became close. She was just there. Every time you turned around she was there saying something positive.”
The Jamboree, of course, was Elizabeth’s baby. She thought of it, helped plan it, worked on it, and each year the fundraising event was a success. Lorraine Johnson-Coleman’s performance was one of the best. Elizabeth heard her on NPR and invited her to come. Before the Jamboree’s main event, Elizabeth took time to speak to the older LightHouse kids and invited other “Just Plain Folks” to share their stories, which she considered just as important as the stories of the famous.
Until the very end, Elizabeth still kept up with many of the kids she met through the LightHouse. She showed the LightHouse kids a larger world and their potential to succeed in it. Because of Elizabeth, the LightHouse kids had someone in their corner who believed in them and encouraged them to move ahead. In the process, Elizabeth made it a better world for all of us. We will miss our mentor, advocate, supporter, and most of all friend.
Donations to honor Elizabeth’s memory may be made to Volunteers of America North Louisiana by mailing a check to us at 360 Jordan Street, Shreveport, Louisiana 71101 or by making an online donation.