A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at Island Elderly Housing (IEH) for the recreational room dedicated to Josephine (“Jojo”) Tucker, who passed away in March. The Monday afternoon celebration also unveiled new exercise equipment and arts and crafts tables for residents to enjoy.
Trish Moreis, one of Tucker’s daughters, was the one to cut the red ribbon. After the ribbon cutting, IEH treasurer Robert Edmunds transitioned the group into the recreational room, where Moreis spoke about her mother.
“I wasn’t really planning to say a lot,” Moreis said, holding back tears. “I just want to really thank you guys for this honor for my mom.”
Moreis recalled how when Tucker moved to the Island from Pocasset, she asked where the exercise room or the arts and crafts room was at IEH. She said Tucker would advocate for improvements for the community’s residents.
“My mom really cared about other people,” Moreis said, saying Tucker “was a bulldog, in a good way” when it came to pushing for something. “What’s really important is that she wanted to make a difference. One thing that I learned … since Mom left, we’ve learned what a difference she’s made to people’s lives.”
While the arts and crafts section was a surprise, Moreis said there will soon be a wishlist for residents to indicate what they would like to have available. Additionally, the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard donated exercise bands for the residents. Moreis said this allows community members to still get exercise if the YMCA has to close its in-person activities for some reason. The residents, who Moreis said have difficulty with technology, would also not need to use computers to get involved with the classes.
“I appreciate this equipment, I use it,” resident Susan Rowan said. “It’s a blessing. It’s really nice.”
Joe Haertel told the Times Tucker would bring pastries and fresh fruit for New Year’s Day for a community brunch. He said the pastries were usually gone fairly quickly.
“I was trying to think this morning how I could sum up Jojo with one word, and all I could think of was ‘dynamo,’” IEH board president Simone DeSorcy said. She remembered how Tucker used her “great intelligence” to understand the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations the organization must abide by in order to receive rent subsidies. Tucker would later become the president of the residents’ association at Woodside Village, an IEH property, and was very effective. But, DeSorcy said, it was there that there were many laughs and fun times working with Tucker.
DeSorcy also remembered how Tucker invited musicians to stroll around the campus grounds playing music. Tucker and the other self-proclaimed “groupies” made T shirts for the event.
“That’s the enthusiasm that Jojo brought to everything in all of her life, and I love her, Trish, and I’m sorry for your loss. But I know she and Phil are looking down on us now,” DeSorcy said. “And probably correcting my English.”
Edmunds, who is also a retired Episcopal priest, led a prayer for Tucker, her family, and her community, to close out the event.