In this Year of Mercy, we are called to show mercy and compassion for those in our community who are struggling. Sixty-year-old Joy Barratt has done this, sometimes subconsciously, for over 30 years.
Caring for families of women in prison, the elderly who live alone, refugees fleeing for their lives, and others who are judged constantly by society, Joy never fails to think of others.
Joy’s mother was loving and caring and also helped others in the community as much as she could and now Joy’s children and grandchildren also strive to show God’s love to those around them. Joy says, ‘I love people, I… love the way everybody’s different and I just seem to be attracted to people who are a little bit different.’
Joy helps in prisons, giving women packs of essentials when they have a baby and helping them start a new life when they get released, but more often she works with the families of the women.
When a mum goes to jail, the children are often left with their grandparents or relatives. Sometimes elderly grandparents are left with numerous young children whom they must look after for many years.
Joy tells us that sometimes when these children want to visit their mum in prison, they need to wear a pair of shoes which many can’t afford. As a result, they are not allowed to visit. So Joy steps in and collects donated shoes for these kids, helping them have the visit they long for.
‘I just feel sorry for the kids’, Joy says, ‘because it’s through no fault of their own the situation they’re in.’
Joy also visits Valencia Nursing Home and Sonshine Park regularly. She says that many of the elderly people there have dementia and they live in their own little world. She sometimes has to lie when they say things like, ‘Do you know my little girl? Oh, you must go to school with her.’ Joy just replies with, ‘Oh yes I know her’, because she wants them to feel content. She says that the staff there are nice but ultimately, it is their job. Whereas her volunteering means a lot to them because she doesn’t have to go and yet she still does.
The little things you do for someone else will not change the world but it will change their world. Sometimes all it takes is just sitting with them and saying it’s all going to be ok. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper, ‘God doesn’t forget or abandon his children’, and sometimes it’s the weekly hug to keep them going.
Mother Teresa once said, ‘Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.’
Joy may only be one woman in a big world but she knows that she can give lots of her time and effort to help those who ‘slip through the cracks’.
YJA 2016 Intermediate Section Winner: Jessica Pendal, Mercedes College, Perth, WA