Road To Recovery
Meet Joanie Marshall
AUGUST 27, 2018
Upon meeting Homeowner Joanie Marshall, I knew we would instantly connect. She is someone who welcomes everyone and is ready to share her story. The first time we sat down to talk, she warned me that talking wears her out, pointed to her ventalor, smiled and said, “but I love to talk”. We had a good laugh and proceeded to simply get to know each other.
Work on Joanie’s house began four weeks ago; teams mucked, gutted, sanitized, and have now rebuilt the front room of her mobile home. Hurricane Harvey hit Coastal Bend on August 25th, 2017 as a category 4 hurricane, with the eye of the storm passing directly over this area. Over 200,000 homes were damaged, 40,000 people displaced, and Harvey has been deemed the second costliest storm in US history.
Needless to say, Joanie along with many of her neighbors were affected. The roof was partially lifted off part of her home, and rain saturated the front room. The Marshalls knew the room was deteriorating, but due to a number of health issues, were unable to prioritize repairs. She and her husband Richard closed the room and attempted to seal it off. It wasn’t until a visit by her daughter that they noticed a bad smell and the presence of hidden mold along the floor and closet. That’s when Joanie called All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response.
Joanie has lived a full life, spending time in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New Mexico before finally settling down in Texas. While she was a child, her father worked as a dragline operator in a Pennsylvania mine. When her father received a job offer in the copper mines of New Mexico they made the move southwest.
Joanie grew up with an appreciation of horses, and even owned a few in Pennsylvania, but New Mexico is where her passion fully developed. Not interested in competing herself, she began training barrel and team roping horses to sell for competition. She says, “I spent my whole life married to cowboys and living on ranches”. She had a deep connection to her roots.
Simultaneously, she was producing and selling art. It was through word of mouth and partnering with local galleries that her artwork became known. She specialized in western and barn art, with a particular emphasis on cowboys, horses, and other barn animals.
After some success in the art world, Joanie decided to focus on the horses. Even though she did not continue the artist path, Joanie still enjoyed creating. Each year she drew the poster artwork for the New Mexico Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
After over 20 years of training horses, making and teaching art Joanie left that life behind. She returned to college, graduated with her degree in Business Administration, Psychology and an Art Minor. She worked a variety of jobs, and at 50 moved to Texas, and sold the rest of her horses. She describes this act as “an amputation of [her] heart”.
Joanie spent her time working in a nursing home as a activities director, and later decided to sit for the Social Worker exam. She received her license, worked five years at the nursing home and spent the remainder of time as a Social Worker for Hospice. She advocated and connected well with many of her patients, spending extra time with them, and offering humor to brighten their days. For her, the position was a punishing, but rewarding experience. She was able to share life and connect with many folks, but often there was simply not enough time. She quickly realized end-of-life care would not be an easy career choice.
Now in retirement, Joanie and her husband are dealing with many health issues along with managing the effects of Hurricane Harvey. They planned well for life after work, but have been faced with challenge after challenge financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
The health challenges and Harvey have put much strain on them. Currently Richard is in a Rehab Nursing Home, and throughout the last year Joanie has been in and out of the hospital. Thankfully the last visit afforded her the opportunity to bring home a noninvasive ventilation machine which helps her breathe better. She’s thrilled with the completion of their front room because the new space provides room for Richard and in-home assistance.
Another source of comfort has been Joanie’s desire to create again. Unfortunately due to tremors, she’s no longer able to do pencil work, but this is where the paint comes in! It’s been a very long time since Joanie last painted, but she’s finally picking up the brush again. The original photo for her current work was taken by her daughter, and Joanie decided this would be her subject. Though she isn’t quite done with the piece, she’s doing a fantastic job and enjoying the process.
Joanie is a very generous and jovial woman. She is a fighter, determined to squeeze some enjoyment out of everyday life. She truly emphasizes the quality of life, and now has the time and opportunity to return to painting. As someone who has given so much of herself to advocate for the needs of others, we’re happy to be able to help her and Richard on their road to recovery.
Now that their home is no longer a health hazard, Richard will return home shortly. They’ll no longer have to worry about the quality of air in their home, and the other damages of Hurricane Harvey. Though they still have a road ahead of them, this is one less stress they’ll have to carry along the journey.
Just as we worked with Joanie and Richard to recover their home, many are still in need of assistance. Every day volunteers in the field working on various homes. There are plenty of homes to be mucked, gutted, and rebuilt; homeowners, neighbors, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, family, friends who still need help. All Hands and Hearts is committed to this community. Come join our team, and help people like Joanie on their road to recovery.
Story by Abby R. Bonilla for All Hands and Hearts