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Joyce Thomas Blades


Volunteer, The Kitchen Inc., Springfield

Some women fight for justice in a courthouse, and others find other ways to make a difference. Joyce Thomas Blades has used her career as a nurse and volunteer to mitigate the effects of poverty and abuse. Most recently, she has worked as a volunteer for The Kitchen Inc., which provides housing and other services to low-income families, veterans and others.blades-joyce

What are your proudest career accomplishments?

Being co-founder of the third hospice in America and founder of The Kitchen Endowment for Homeless Families. I am also proud of receiving President G. H. W. Bush Thousand Points of Light Award #453, and being named the first civilian chair of the Missouri Public Defenders Commission. I am proud of being the founder of Diocese of SPFLD-Cape Girardeau Good Samaritan Program and working for women’s rights for personal insurance, retirement, etc. for the diocese.

What inspired you to get involved in the public service or justice system?

As long as I see suffering, I cannot rest and I have been blessed to work in the following ways. As a public health nurse, I saw suffering and injustice in the Pruitt-Igoe Project. As an elected representative from Missouri to the White House Conference on Families I learned of neglected and abused children. As a board member of the Diocese, I learned and was able to help farm wives get legal standing, security and rights separate from their husbands. As Junior League president, I learned what women can do in a community by serving on boards and developing new programs. In each of these I was inspired by people who were better, smarter and more capable than I am and of course those I served gave more to me than I to them.

What is the best advice you have given or received?

Our call as human beings is to develop the gifts we have been given to serve others. No excuses. We are never too old, too busy, too tired or too untalented to answer our creator’s call.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Knowing that every human being has a divine spark within them, even if homeless, imprisoned, mentally ill, or sick and dying.

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?

A nurse and it was, next to having my children and grandchildren, the greatest gift I’ve been given.