For her unique ability to bring so many people together to fight for what is right and for her persistence in fighting for the needs of her children and so many others, the Tennessee Justice Center honors Mallorie Hatcher.
Mallorie Hatcher lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. She works fulltime as an occupational therapist and her husband Robert, her high school sweetheart, works as a firefighter. They are proud parents of 7-year-old daughter Londyn and 6-year-old son Nolan. Londyn enjoys art, dancing, and being outside. Nolan started kindergarten this school year. He loves dirt bikes, music, his puppy Bella, vacuum cleaners, and choo-choo trains. Nolan has a microduplication on his 17th chromosome. It is classified as a rare chromosome disorder. If you saw him, you would assume he is much younger than he is due to his slow growth. Nolan has feeding difficulties, global learning delays, Chiari malformation, and epilepsy, and he has had multiple hospitalizations and surgeries during his life. He has more than a handful of specialty physicians and regular speech and occupational therapy sessions in order to help him thrive. Once it takes into effect, Nolan and thousands of other children across the state will be covered by the Katie Beckett waiver which Mallorie and so many other advocates and caregivers have been fighting for.
Mallorie was born and raised in Tennessee and grew up in a beautiful small community called Limestone Cove. She lived there until she left for college at UTC on scholarship, four hours from home. After undergrad, she moved back to Tri-Cities area and received her master’s degree in occupational therapy. In the summers between semesters, she worked at a restaurant. She began her career in skilled nursing facilities/nursing homes and did some contract work in the community with adults with intellectually disabilities. She has worked in home health settings now for almost 6 years. She has always had a passion for working with the elderly and with individuals who have disabilities. Growing up with a dad as a Methodist pastor, she did plenty of volunteer work without even realizing it – that is just what her family did! Mallorie is thankful for her upbringing and that she had parents who ingrained in her the true meaning of community and helping those in need. In her spare time, she enjoys taking road trips with her family to Canada, being involved with the praise team at her church, running, listening to music, and dancing. She really values her time with friends and family.
A member of the Tennessee Disability Coalition, Mallorie became acquainted with the work of Tennessee Justice Center about 18 months ago. She also is involved with a national advocacy group called Little Lobbyists and volunteers as leader for her Tennessee chapter. When asked about TJC she said “It is so great to have an organization in our state that is fighting for equality and the human right of healthcare for all people. It is so reassuring to know that, when I come into contact with individuals who are struggling with the inequalities of health care, I can refer them to the Tennessee Justice Center. I know that TJC knows the law and will look into each individual case. In a case when there is not an option for that individual, I know that the staff remembers them, is empathetic for what they are going through, and will fight for them. ”
Last fall, during the Medicaid block grant proposal comment periods, Mallorie organized her friends to speak out against the harmful proposal. She also led a webinar for the TJC network on how to mobilize against the block grant. She is incredibly passionate about advocacy and is always letter writing, contacting her legislators, and referring people to TJC. We are honored to know her and that she is a member of the TJC network!
Mallorie is inspired by Lily Tomlin’s words, “Somebody should do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody.” Mallorie said, “There is so much truth in that quote. Through advocacy I have learned how critical it is to share our stories and bring awareness to the reality of what families are struggling with and I have also learned the power in numbers and momentum. I also realize this is not something I did on my own. A family in our area had made the front page of our local newspaper and I realized for the first time we were not alone. The courage of them to speak up gave me the courage to speak up, along with the support from advocates from Tennessee Disability Coalition, Family Voices and TJC. If I am able to do that for someone else that is great. But probably the most amazing thing about advocacy is the number of people that actually benefit from the change when you make progress together. Many you have never met, some that are not even born yet and that is just a very big thing. I have been blessed to meet some of the most amazing families and friends through this journey of advocacy. I have new support from friends who actually get it and more clearly understand. We are also a team and understand that due to life circumstances sometimes one may be able to be more engaged than the other but we always advocate for all.”
Photo Credit: Twin City Photo Club