Sharing ‘Joy’ with Southside seniors

Joy's House on UIndy campus marks 2 years of community partnerships with 15th annual flower sale

In the two years since Joy’s House took up residence on the University of Indianapolis campus, the adult day service has continued to build and grow relationships within the community. Not only does Joy’s House enhance opportunities for patrons, but volunteers also are being enlightened about the realities of diagnoses like dementia.

“It’s cool to be that living, learning lab,” said Leah Jones, family care manager. “People have such a preconceived idea of what it’s like to sit down with someone who is dealing with a life-changing diagnosis. They walk away, saying, ‘That’s not what I expected at all.’ That person has laughed with them, told them a joke. It blows all preconceived ideas out the water.”

For the 15th year, Friends of Joy’s House is hosting a spring flower sale, organized by a volunteer committee. Proceeds will enable ongoing adult day and caregiver services.

The flower sale runs March 23 to April 20, with about 30 varieties of flowers, planters, herbs and vegetables from Heidenreich Greenhouses. Orders can be picked up on May 5 at Roncalli High School or on May 12 at the Joy’s House location in Broad Ripple. To place an order online, go to (See the sidebar for more information.)

Joy’s House, now in its 19th year, offers adult day services from locations in Broad Ripple and the Southside.

Jones, a longtime Southside resident, graduated from Roncallli High School. She began a career in adult day services 14 years ago, when she joined the Southport Adult Day Center, a mission of Southport Presbyterian Church. Adult day services, as the name implies, provide activities, care and engagement to adults who have physical or mental challenges while affording a break for caregivers.

“I fell in love with adult day services because of all of the neat options that keep families together,” Jone said. “No one spends the night, and there’s no weekends. Families get to have the best of both worlds. They know mom and dad are safe and comfortable, and they can go back to work or run errands, whatever they need to do to be that good caregiver.”

Growing strong

In 2014, Joy’s House in Broad Ripple took over operation of the Southport Adult Day Center and renamed it Joy’s House at UIndy. The center has operated from its current location since March 7, 2016. Through this transition, guests and families have had no service interruptions, and many families at the original church facility were able to move with Joy’s House to the campus.

“I love to tell people the only thing I had to change was how I answer the phone,” Jones said. “The feel was very natural. We focus truly on the families we serve, both guests and their caregivers.”

The Southside staff recently celebrated their two-year anniversary with a birthday party, sharing gifts with the three caregivers who support the organization. The team has 22 families on their roster, with the capacity to care for about 13 guests each day.

“A big part of adult day is giving families choices, so the fact that they can set their own schedule is important to us,” said Mandy Williams, community engagement director for both Joy’s House locations. She started at the UIndy campus as operations manager two years ago.

Originally from Center Grove, she relocated to Perry Township several years ago.

“I felt more called to the nonprofit realm,” Williams said. “It sort of felt like serendipity. This house opened on my birthday. We just moved here and were 5 minutes down the road. I fell into this at the right time.”

Joy’s House serves adults age 18 and older, though about 75 percent of the guests have an age-related diagnosis like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’ve never turned anyone away for financial reasons,” Jones said. “We have a scholarship fund. We work with families because we know that if they’re coming to us, they’re in need. For financial reasons to be the only hurdle, it’s silly that we couldn’t work something out.”

Guests begin the day with a seated exercise and then play games like Bingo or noodle ball. The UIndy location has a backyard garden with a walking path. A local Boy Scout is creating a sensory wall for his Eagle Scout project.

Joy’s House also focuses on caregivers, offering resources, education and even retreats.

Easing each other’s burdens

“When families come in, you can see that emotional weight on their shoulders,” Jones said. “When they leave, you know that weight is a little lighter, sometimes a whole lot lighter, because they feel they have a support system.”

But Jones and Williams said they’re still challenged to make the community aware of their services. The proceeds form this year’s flower sale will go to support programs, increase awareness of the center and acquire needed equipment.

“This year, we have a neat partnership with Roncalli,” Williams said. “A lot of their students come here for service hours to get involved. They’re letting us use their location for the flower sale pickup.”

The flower sale raises as much as $10,000 each year for Joy’s House, and it’s the largest event Friends of Joy’s House hosts. Williams said the fundraiser benefits the community all around.

“It’s a local organization you’re supporting,” Williams said. “A local greenhouse is supporting us. Local students will volunteer to help with pickup. You can see where things are coming from and where the money is going back to help with your community.”

Friends of Joy’s House annual flower sale

The adult day center’s popular annual sale begins March 23 with flowers, planters, herbs and vegetables from Heidenreich Greenhouses.

To place an order, go to or download a form at and mail it with your payment to Joy’s House, 2028 E. Broad Ripple Ave., Indianapolis IN 46220.

Pick up your order May 5 at Roncalli High School or May 12 at the Joy’s House location in Broad Ripple.