Janice Hampton has looked after her brother Alonzo since 2018. Prior to 2018, Alonzo's older brother had assumed responsibility. Janice is the 7th child out of 9 siblings and Alonzo is the 9th child, so the two have always shared a close bond. They love going to the movies together, taking family trips, attending family and friends' barbecues, attending free outdoor concerts in the community, watching the news, and visiting a special church in Memphis which Alonzo likes to attend regularly.
Alonzo worked for the state of Tennessee for many years with the Department of Children’s Services until his health declined to a point where he became physically disabled. He is a graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee where he obtained a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies. Alonzo was beginning to work on his master's at Lambuth University, when his health began to decline. Alonzo has also worked for Omni Vision where he was a care worker for people with disabilities, not knowing that he would one day be on the receiving end of home health care.
Alonzo has been diagnosed with having two types of disabilities. One is physical, and the other is mental. His mental health came as a result of trauma. He was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Alonzo had never reached out to anyone (including family and friends) for help with his mental health. Alonzo is well loved by family and friends and if he had mentioned any challenges with mental health to his family and friends, his family would have intervened. His physical disability, on the other hand, came as a result of a stroke in May of 2022.
Janice is also a graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a minor in economics. She later pursued a master's degree in mental health counseling from Freed Hardeman University. This enabled her to understand the challenges that Alonzo was facing mentally, and she intervened, prior to his stroke in 2022.
Janice assisted Alonzo in moving to a better environment closer to family, while taking on the responsibility as his care representative for him through Amerigroup insurance. She assists him with paying bills, taking him to doctors and specialists as needed, taking him grocery shopping, preparing his meals, washing his clothes, assisting him around his home (because he has difficulty walking), and advocating for additional services with insurers and state agencies as needed, since he has limited home health care hours to meet his needs, while having two types of disabilities.
After his stroke in May of 2022, Alonzo’s right side was severely affected, and his left side experienced some residual effects as well. Alonzo transitioned from the hospital to a nursing home, and later back to his residence where he is now residing with in-home health care services with Addus Home Health. Due to having two types of disabilities, Alonzo is in need of "around the clock care."
Alonzo started out with having in-home health care services for two hours a day. Janice reached out to Tennessee Justice Center for help advocating for Alonzo by appealing this decision. TJC successfully helped Alonzo get 30 hours per week of home health care. Together, TJC and Janice are fighting for additional hours to address his two types of disabilities.
Janice visits Alonzo every day, not only as his caretaker, but as love for her brother. Alonzo has additional family members who visit him, help prepare meals, and provide services and resources sometimes when Janice is not available. This past Christmas, Alonzo was blessed with additional gifts that he personally needed and was ecstatic knowing that all the gifts under the tree were for him. When showing his gifts, he smiled and humbly said, “Thank you! Thank you!"
Alonzo is well-beloved in his community. He is "one of the nicest people you could hope to come in contact with." Even though his health has declined in recent years, Janice stated that Alonzo "finds peace and joy in just about everything." The adjustment to this new chapter in his life hasn't been easy, but Alonzo is adjusting despite his health struggles. He is in a good place despite some opposition.
Janice was employed by the Madison County government for over 24 years. Prior to this, she taught at West Tennessee Business College and Madison Business Schools. Janice is an elected official, serving on the Jackson Madison County School Board, a position she’s held since 2012. Janice's love for advocacy continues within her community, and she currently works with the organization Communities United. She advocated with different agencies such as the CDC, State of Tennessee Health Disparities Department, Jackson Madison County Health Department, UT Family Medical Center, Christ Community, Sunshine Medical, Jackson Housing Authority and other agencies in efforts to provide free COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots in the Lincoln Courts housing area. The families who attended received goodie bags from Christ Community, masks from the state and the CDC, and chicken sandwiches, chips, and water from Jackson Housing Authority and Communities United. She also works in ministry within and throughout her community in various churches. She is an ordained minister, mother of two daughters, and grandmother of two grandsons.
While the Tennessee Justice Center has had success in getting Alonzo additional home health hours, we are still fighting for more, and working with Janice has been an absolute pleasure. "You are the voice for families that don't have one to appeal and advocate where help is needed." Janice said of TJC. "My family and I are very grateful to have help for our brother." TJC advocates for change on a large scale, as well as helping individual clients. Caregivers and advocates like Janice remind us that anyone can make a positive change in their communities, and sometimes, people just need a helping hand to get the healthcare they deserve. Tennessee Justice Center is proud to honor Janice Hampton as a 2023 Caregiver of the Year for her fierce dedication to her brother and advocacy for her community.