2017 marked the centennial anniversary of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society serving military families in New Orleans, and the exciting transition of NMCRS New Orleans back into a full service office. In recent years, NMCRS New Orleans was a local service office operating under the direction of NMCRS Gulfport. Since August, Joy Barnes has had the privilege of working as the director of NMCRS New Orleans.
Barnes is new to the Society but has spent her entire life as a member of military families. Her dad served in the Air Force and her husband serves in the Marine Corps. She has been a military spouse for 14 years, living in Okinawa, Hawaii, and Virginia before moving to New Orleans, Louisiana.
“I first heard about the Society while we were stationed in Okinawa,” she explained. “I was a volunteer at the Family Readiness office, and we would frequently refer service members to the Society.” Barnes has consistently worked with nonprofit organizations, addressing issues such as women’s rights, social justice, and immigrant legal services. She has been a volunteer and a staff member, taking on a variety of roles including development, membership, volunteer support, client services, and executive leadership. She has done grant writing and grantmaking. “I’m a service-oriented person,” she said. “When we got orders to New Orleans I saw the job posting for NMCRS director and thought it would be a perfect fit for me, both professionally and personally.”
As a newcomer, Barnes is inspired by the long-time dedication of so many of the volunteers and staff she has encountered within the Society. “I’m amazed by the commitment that people have to their work and to the organization,” she said.
Because NMCRS New Orleans is located on a Joint Reserve Base, the office sees a lot of clients who are reservists. “They come in with pay problems and challenges from the frequent transitions associated with going on and off active duty, and that affects their budgets,” Barnes explained. “We also see a lot of soldiers because we have a big Army presence here, so our office provides a lot of cross-service assistance.”
Barnes is the only paid employee in her office—and even she works part-time—so she’s been working hard since she started to recruit volunteers. She’s also spending time cultivating relationships with base commanders and other local organizations that serve military families.
Barnes’ own family includes a 13-year-old daughter, a nine-year-old son, and a seven-year-old daughter. When she’s not with her family or in the NMCRS office, Barnes enjoys running. “She’s completed three marathons and multiple half-marathons, including one in New Orleans right after she moved there.” Barnes has found a good community of runners on the base. “They’re my social network,” she said.
Welcome to NMCRS, Joy!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso