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Foundation Spotlight


Written by Jim and Nanci Tidwell, February 2020

In 1975, Jim took me home to meet his family. The first person to greet us at the door was his youngest sister, Joy. She was 13 at the time and was not too interested in meeting me. Joy was waiting for her friends. They were going to ride bikes, not Schwinn but motorcycles. As time went on, Jim and I married, and we ended up helping Joy with school work. Later, Joy began her health-related career as a phlebotomist. This job was a stepping stone to being a lab technologist. However, she discovered respiratory therapy, and soon she had a new dream. She enrolled at Wallace State to study RT. Jim and I did not need to help with homework. She loved this field! She liked the science, the conventional sense, the helping of others. Joy excelled at this. Then on a Friday afternoon, in October 2007, Joy left work. She picked up her Harley at the shop and headed home. She was involved in a motor vehicle accident, and she died at the scene. Joy loved to laugh. Her favorite color was black, and she collected angels and butterflies. Joy was a die hard Alabama fan and a life long Democrat. She loved her two daughters, Mandi and Ashley. Joy has missed the births of three more granddaughters, Emma Joy, Faith, and Taylor Grace, and a grandson, Landon. Jim and I, as well as the rest of the family, were devastated. We searched for reasons and answers, but we could not find them. We came up with a plan to start a scholarship in Joy's memory. We thought this would help us to heal and to deal with grief. We talked with our banker; she said, "That is good, but". We spoke with our accountant; he said, "That is wonderful, but". We talked to our attorney; he said, "That is nice, but". I finally spoke to Suzanne Harbin, and she said, "That is excellent! Here is what you need to do". We began fundraising in February 2008. We had the money by May. The money came from as far north as Illinois, as far West as California, and as far East as Georgia. The money came from seven counties across central and North Alabama. Roughly one third came from doctors at the hospital where Joy worked — one third from friends and coworkers, and one third from family members. The donations exceeded our goal. One year following Joy's death, our first scholarship recipient was announced. We are proud to say, there have been a total of 12 scholarships awarded. We are looking forward to meeting the next recipient. We continue to help raise money by donating crafts and artwork to the Foundation. These items are donated for auction every fall. Jim is currently working on a project for the next Student Investment Luncheon. Jim and I have received so much from establishing this scholarship. We got to know the school, Wallace State. We truly love the staff and the campus. Wallace State will receive our endorsement every time. The kindness and generosity of donors renews our faith in people. Our hope in people continues. That people, when they are aware of a need, will step up and give. That these acts of charity, indeed, are acts of love. We encourage folks to pull out their checkbooks, empty their wallets, and make a donation. While the gift is infinite, the benefits are one hundredfold. That is priceless.