Bridging the Gap
Love & Joy Personal Care Home is making a space for a part of the Houston community who needs it the most. Through home and community services, assisted living, and group homes, Love & Joy is providing a place for the intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) and mentally ill population.
“We are a pillow to the community, especially as it relates to providing services to this group of people and providing the community with jobs,” Shelia Swirczynski, Love & Joy CEO said.
Love & Joy’s overall goal is to continue providing quality care regardless of the funding status of individuals. Within these populations, there are non-funded and funded individuals.
“What makes us different is that we serve the non-funded,” Shelia said. “They need the care just as much as the funded populations, but because of long waiting lists to the IDD population and lack of funding to the mentally ill populations, they fall a gap of being unserved.”
Love and Joy desires to get volunteers to assist with the growth of the non-funded program.
“We are in need of volunteers to assist with nursing, administration, and community outings,” Shelia said. “There are so many ways to get involved and connected with our organization.”
Shelia’s mother, Lover Compton, founded Love & Joy over 20 years ago to serve the greater Houston area. Lover had half of her siblings affected by mental illness, plus two of her own children.
“That’s what prompted her to start caring for this group,” Shelia said. “Growing up you don’t understand mental illness, but at the end of the day you learn to understand it, especially when you live with it.”
Lover, founder of Love & Joy, wanted to share her experiences with mental illness in an effort to help others, because she knows what it is like to walk through mental illness with a loved one. Love & Joy now provides the care this group needs by giving them a place to congregate with others under proper care. It is Love & Joy’s greatest desire to assist their clients and families in becoming independent and integrated in the community.
Their motto is to ‘bring love back into the community’ while sharing an ‘abundance of love’ to every consumer. The organization does this through the variety of services they offer including Home and Community Services-HCS Medicaid Waiver Program, housing homeless populations by a way of Assisted Livings-Mallow’s Place, Adult Day Care, and Group Homes for CPS children.
At their adult day care center located at 4440 Bennington St. Houston, TX 77016, Love & Joy provides day activity services that include outings and activities for individuals to socialize with others who can relate and share similar stories and experiences.
The group homes and assisted living programs offer a place for these populations to call home. Both facilities offer three meals a day along with a loving and supporting community.
The group homes specialize in the funded IDD population. The facility offers a smaller house setting with no more than four people in a home. The assisted living facility is for the non-funded mentally ill and IDD populations.
A passion particularly close to Shelia’s heart is the homeless mentally ill population. A personal tragedy caused Shelia to live in the Star of Hope Women’s Shelter and Development Center in Houston. After her time at Star of Hope, Shelia was inspired to expand Love & Joy’s services by building Houston’s first shelter for homeless people who are mentally ill.
“I loved what they did to help and reach out to the homeless community,” Shelia said. “I wanted to do what they were doing, but I wanted to do it for the mentally ill population.”
The dream to create a place for the homeless, mentally ill population was born. It was almost a dream come true, with 85% of the construction complete, but a tragic fire broke out on November 18, 2014.
“Our building burned and we still owe for the building even though there is no building there,” Shelia said. “Our builder did not have builder risk insurances, therefore we have to pay to rebuild.”
Love & Joy is asking the community to help them rebuild not only to achieve their dream, but also to provide a home for the homeless, mentally ill population who is in need.
Contact Shelia at 832-890-9997 to help with the rebuilding, or to donate. Donations can also be mailed to Love & Joy Personal Care Home P.O. Box 330344 Houston, TX 77233. Outside of assistance with rebuilding the facility, Love & Joy is always in need of food and monetary donations to help care for the individuals they serve.
Another group Love & Joy seeks to serve is Houston’s veterans. Unfortunately, one of the tragic side effects of war is sometimes mental illness. When these brave individuals come back they are sometimes not the same.
“It’s not that their families don’t love them,” Shelia said. “They do, but they are totally different. It is difficult for each member of the family including the client. It is our responsibility to stabilize and rebuild our clients regardless of their tragedy and illness.”
Love & Joy will do anything they can to help whoever walks through their door. For more information about Love & Joy’s services, visit loveandjoy.org or call the intake coordinator, Keelia Ashley at 713-733-6900. They are truly bridging the gap in the Houston community by providing care to those who need it the most.
“The most rewarding part of my job,” Shelia said, “is being able to provide comfort to someone who has no place to go.”