We're saddened to report the passing on March 14 of Ms. Joyce Hughes, one of the Wex's dearest community partners (seen below wearing a gorgeous pink dress and a beaming smile). Friends are welcome to attend a memorial service for Ms. Hughes this Saturday, March 25 at 11:30 a.m. at Gateway Film Center, followed by a repast at 2:30 p.m. at 7th Avenue Community Missionary Baptist Church. Here's Youth and Community Programs Manager Jean Pitman, who worked closely with Ms. Hughes, on the community leader's lasting impact.
"In a way, in Weinland Park, Ms. Joyce was everyone’s big sister; she looked after us all." - Martin Weston and daughter, Cayla
Ms. Hughes was one of my most important recent mentors and while she will be deeply missed by so many, she was a true leadership role model to several women I know here in Columbus. She's left an ongoing legacy.
She taught me much about working with many kinds of people and situations in the moment, with grace (sometimes in large public forums), as well as about speaking your truth and being yourself. She taught me never to take myself too seriously, and to laugh at the absurdities all around me and at myself when necessary! She taught me the value of face-to-face, honest conversations. She taught me many more ways to bring the invisible into visibility in safe, positive ways.
Because of Ms. Joyce, I learned more about the good ways of putting your heart into your work. Ms. Joyce Hughes and Ms. Diane Dixon came to me in 2010 and asked if the Wex would come to their neighborhood, Weinland Park, to make some kind of contemporary art project with youth. As neighbors, we were thrilled, although none of us had any idea what that might look like! We all knew it would take time to see what made sense, so we took a couple of years to figure out what to do together.
Our first project was the Weinland Park Story Book, a Wex-produced graphic anthology of short stories and anecdotes from Weinland Park residents made into a comic book by around 40 area comic artists, from a five-year-old child living in the neighborhood to a seasoned professional artist at Marvel/DC working near Athens, Ohio. Artist Julian Dassai and I worked for years on curating this project with area teens, and Ms. Joyce provided unwavering support every step of the way as a consultant and driver—even though she had very little to go on 'til very close to the end! She believed in us and in her neighbors to make something brilliant and true, and we did.
This photo of several resident storytellers (including Ms. Cayla), teen intern artists (from inside and outside of the neighborhood), local professional artists, Ms. Joyce and myself at Godman Guild is from the day of the Weinland Park Story Book reception and exhibition, in June 2014. This day will always be a highlight to me both personally and professionally. Rest in power, Ms. Hughes, and thank you for showing us how to love and accept our neighbors as they truly are.