News & Events

A Tribute to Joy Martin

We are sad to share the news that Joy Martin passed away on Monday, March 8, 2021. Joy was a founding member of Home of the Sparrow, and she was instrumental in making Home of the Sparrow a reality. Joy had a heart of gold and wanted to give others the chance for a better life. As one of our founders, we are so grateful she brought the issue of homelessness to light in McHenry County back in 1984. Thanks to her persistence, vision and guidance, Joy helped Home of the Sparrow become a reality in 1987.

Joy really made a difference in the lives of so many, and she had such a caring and loving heart. Joy also volunteered for other organizations in the community, including Faith in Action of McHenry County (now Senior Care Volunteer Network), Family Alliance, Daughters of the American Revolution, Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church; and served as an election judge. She consistently was very giving
her time.


She never said “no” to an outreach opportunity, and has conducted more than 140 volunteer interviews and placements at Home of the Sparrow in a one year’s timeframe! She later became an AmeriCorps volunteer and was required to perform 900 hours of community service through her AmeriCorps contract. Yet, she gave 1,200 hours, demonstrating her dedication to Home of the Sparrow’s mission. That was Joy going over and above all the time, and we often wondered where she got her energy from. As a result of her selflessness, Joy was honored with the Governor’s Volunteer Award.


Joy spent 30 years dedicated to Home of the Sparrow. Joy was not only a founder, a staff member, and later became a volunteer for Home of the Sparrow, she was also part of the foundation on which Home of the Sparrow was built, a part that will forever be embedded in the agency for generations. We were all always amazed at how much she has done for our organization!


Home of the Sparrow staff share this story about Joy: “It was just about 5 years ago, Joy came into the office dressed perfectly in her high heel shoes, to pick up a large bag with the display board and materials to do a volunteer presentation. We would say “Joy do not carry that”, and she would say “I got it – it’s fine!” We would have to walk over there and try to take it away from her. Can you guess who won that battle?”


We also loved hearing Joy’s stories about her and her dad visiting the Indian reservations, as she had family ancestral roots to the Native American culture. She enjoyed researching her family history and had many great historical stories to share. Her name JOY fit her quite well as she was a “JOY” to be around! She was a woman with passion, determination, persistence, strength, energy and a giving warm spirit. Joy truly embodied our mission of providing hope, opportunity and support that empowers women and children as they journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency. For that, we are forever grateful!


Joy will not be forgotten; her legacy continues with her spirit guiding us daily as we strive to grow programs to serve Homeless Women and Children that will assist them in achieving self-sufficiency.


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