By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer
Portales resident Joyce Davis had home economics as a career for much of her life, but involvement with Habitat for Humanity for the last seven years has given home economics a whole new meaning for her.
She says her involvement in altruistic efforts, consumer science and housing throughout her life prepared her for her current position as executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Roosevelt and Curry County, an affiliate of an international organization helping families living in inadequate housing.
Her interest in home economics was sparked in her youth, as she learned to sew in a junior high class while growing up in Greeley, Colo.
Isabel Zupancic, a Habitat volunteer and friend, said what she admires about Davis is the way she can be so altruistic but still objective in her work.
“She manages (Habitat for Humanity) with her heart and mind for the good of the organization,” Zupancic said.
One of Davis’ jobs is to select the families the organization will aid and which don’t qualify. Zupancic said it can be a very heartbreaking job, but Davis’ goodwill and kindness to the families impresses her.
Davis joined Habitat for Humanity’s Roosevelt County division as it was getting started in 1999. So far she has helped five families in the area move into new homes which were built by volunteers she has found to help with the efforts in the community.
“I used to think I would want to be in the Peace Corps after I retired. But Habitat (for Humanity) came up, it was the same kind of thing and I could do it at home,” she said.
Davis attended Colorado University where she studied home economics and received her bachelor or science and masters degrees by 1960. She returned to get a teaching doctorate with an emphasis in home economics foods and nutrition in 1978.
She then taught home economics at CU for 17 years and later taught for a few years at Colorado Women’s College.
“Home economics seems so practical,” she said. “You get to do things you really like to do.”
She moved to Portales in 1985 with the expectation of staying no longer than a year.
“I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
Davis became the acting dean of education and technology at Eastern New Mexico University. During her work at Eastern, she said she was very active in the state organization in family and consumer science.
In 1986 she was involved in a grant project that filmed video lessons on entrepreneurship for single women needing ways to make money. Sixteen lessons were sent to women around the state as a long-distance ENMU course. The tapes were so successful that she was asked to travel to Dublin, Ireland to present them to the International Women’s Conference.
While her career steps have been satisfying, Davis said getting children raised with the help of her husband has been her greatest accomplishment.
She has a grown daughter and son with children of their own, grandchildren which Davis adores.
Every Sunday Davis sings in her church choir, something she says she is very grateful to get to do.
“It’s amazing they let them (the church) put up with me,” she joked. “It’s a really nice thing for me.”