Geist Resident Tina McIntosh Named One of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year
Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Geist resident Tina McIntosh is one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year, as the honoree for Indiana. McIntosh, who serves as the president and CEO of Joy’s House, not only joins the list of state recipients, but also national honorees such as Michelle Obama, Sandra Day O’Connor and Melinda French Gates. All were recognized for work in their communities to lead, inspire and be a force for change.
“It has been wonderfully overwhelming,” McIntosh says. “When I got an email from the Indianapolis Star, a partner newspaper with USA TODAY, I thought I was being scammed. Later, when they came out to interview me and take photos, I was surprised at how much time they took. After it was announced and the local media broadcasted it out, I was flooded with texts and emails.”
“It could not have come at a better time to shed light on Joy’s House,” she continues. “Some huge programs are being launched this year. Also, I recently published a book, ‘embrace the imbalance: things you need to know from people i wish you knew,’ which is now available, and a portion of the proceeds benefit Joy’s House.”
McIntosh founded nationally award-winning Joy’s House in 1999, as a nonprofit adult day-care center. Individuals served are called guests. They must be 18 years or older and have a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, autism, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis or a form of dementia. It was named Joy’s House to reflect the comfort that comes from visiting with others. Within the first few years of opening the initial Broad Ripple site, it was evident that there was a large need, and a second facility on the south side of Indianapolis was added. The importance of supporting primary caregivers also emerged.
“I grew up with the influence of older adults in my life,” McIntosh says. “While at Ball State, I volunteered at Alpha Center in Muncie. I had it on my spirit to open something similar for 15 years, but parenthood, illnesses and life got in the way. I loved my job as an event planner, but I had a specific moment when I made the decision to open an adult day-care center. At the time I was 27 years old and didn’t have anything to lose.”
“One of my best friends died, and then my biological father needed care after sustaining life-threatening injuries,” she continues. “My siblings helped, but as the oldest child it fell to me to be the primary caregiver. Later, my mother took me on a cruise and I had time to reflect. After returning, I was driving to work and I could clearly see what the adult day-care center would look like. I quit my job and started cleaning houses. I’d change clothes in my car before going to meetings to talk about the possibility of what could be.”
After successfully establishing Joy’s House, programs to support caregivers became part of the nonprofit’s mission. “Caregiver Crossing” is a radio show hosted by McIntosh and Terri Stacy, which airs every weekend on WIBC 93.1 FM. Visiting experts give advice on the air, providing information and resources.
Three more recently developed programs are making Joy’s House a leader for caregiver support. Caregiver Way is a web app with short videos and audio vignettes, checklists, and articles that create a community of learning and encouragement. Trained end-of-life doulas help individuals with terminal illness navigate living. CARE (Consistency, Advocacy, Reassurance, and Education) Kits are organized binders for caregivers to keep important information all in one place.
McIntosh and her family have faced challenges of their own. She is a two-time cancer survivor, and her husband is currently battling the disease for a second time. In her book, and when she speaks publicly, she shares “nuggets” that resonate with listeners. Other speaking topics include Joy’s House, and developing personal values and visions.
“Joy’s House has gone beyond my vision and expectations,” she says. “I pray all the time for God to expand my territory. I didn’t know all the good it would do. On social media, people post about the impact it has made. Co-workers comment on the impact they have on each other, and can remember a moment that changed the course of their lives. This means more to me than any personal award.”
Joy’s House is located at 2028 East Broad Ripple Avenue, and 1615 East Castle Avenue, in Indianapolis. Visit joyshouse.org for more information.
McIntosh’s book is available at embracetheimbalance.com.
For public speaking inquires, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-978-9889.