Joy Collaborative

August 24, 2021  |  Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd.

by Cathryn D. Reher, Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Attorney

While strolling along the Mississippi River at the Stone Arch Festival, amazing miniature architectural pieces for cats and dogs caught my eye. The pieces were donated by architects to raise money for the non-profit, Joy Collaborative.  I went up to find out more about Joy Collaborative and ended up talking with Mark Ostrom, the Executive Director.

A team of designers, architects, builders, and volunteers came together to form a local non-profit called Joy Collaborative. Together they build “joy rooms” for kids with life-limiting conditions. They were raising money at the festival to fund future projects.

I have been an Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Attorney for close to 30 years and what Mark explained to me about their work was truly innovative and inspiring. Doctors deliver a diagnosis and a plan of care.  The diagnosis unfortunately has financial, social, and psychological implications that many times remain unaddressed, leaving families struggling to know what to do or where to turn for help. Joy Collaborative is exploring interactive solutions to meet the social and psychological aspects of disabling conditions that leave persons isolated and under-stimulated. It is remarkable work that I know would be of interest to many of my clients.  

At Joy Collaborative, I prepare trusts permitted under federal and state laws which enable parents and persons with disabilities to establish and protect resources that can be used to supplement the needs of persons with disabilities that are not provided by government programs while also maintaining eligibility for such programs. The protected trust funds can be used to pay for goods and services that enhance quality of life in ways the programs cannot. I suddenly saw new possibilities for trust resources to be used to purchase architectural services in a practical and meaningful way that was not about grab bars and widening doors!  

I have felt so strongly aligned with Joy Collaborative’s vision that I ended up asking to meet with Mark recently to discuss how the concepts they employ at Joy Collaborative could be used in a nursing home room for an elderly patient, in the hallways where patients tend to congregate, or for bed-ridden residential care home residents. So many persons with disabilities could benefit from stimulating and interactive architecture to create a – dare I say – joyous space.  

I wanted to get the word out about what they are doing with the hope to inspire others to think outside the box. Joy Collaborative has an amazing vision and I know what they are doing will forever change how I look at supporting my clients’ needs.