This week’s Humans of Chapelboro continues the story of Joy Javits, daughter of former U.S. Senator Jacob Javits and a local business entrepreneur. Ms. Javits runs DooR to DooR, a hospital program that brings the arts to patients, and In the Public Eye, where she coaches clients in public speaking and presentation. She resides in Chapel Hill. Read part one of her story here.
“I worked for Janice Palmer, [founding director of Duke Arts & Health] for a while and then I started both of the businesses that I now run. One was that hospital arts program that she had been working on for just a few years at the time. Now it’s pretty international. In fact, there were 11 people from hospitals around the country that came to the first meeting we held, and now there are many hundreds that go to such meetings. Each state tends to have a hospital arts program now. So I’ve been doing that for decades. When I lost my job there, I went straight over to UNC hospitals and said, I’ve been working with this extraordinary program, I don’t think you have an arts program here, would you be interested? And they said, yes! Again, again, just luck. So I started running that program and I’ve been running it now for about 25 years, and now it’s called DooR to DooR.”
“I started a tactile art gallery for the visually impaired and blind in the lobby of the Eye Center at Duke, so everybody could touch. It still exists, years later. For DooR to Door, we have a literary art person, a visual art person, and we have IWTRYAP—I want to read you a poem. That means every Friday at noon people would bring in something to read, or we would have a writer read to us, Lee Smith, or Jill McCorkle, these great writers who live in the area. And then I did more the performing arts, so I would get singers, musicians, and dancers to come in and they would offer the patients a little mini concert right in there room. That was amazing.”
“I started DooR to Door with so little funds I couldn’t pay my artists, or I paid them a tiny bit or I’d buy parking or whatever. Now I can pay them a little bit, which is really great because artists tend to be poor. In the past five years or so, I’ve been going almost half the time to the psychiatric patients. We go almost every weekend, on Saturday and Sunday. [Last Sunday] I had four lovely women who sang songs of India. They were Bengal, and they wore lovely outfits. We went to several psych units. I find it fascinating. I don’t tend to do the art. I bring in these only great, terrific people. And on Saturday I had a Chinese young man who is a student at UNC, and he played the clarinet for them and he taught them a little Chinese, and wrote their names in Chinese. The adolescents of course were very naughty. One of them wanted him to write ‘fart’, and the other wanted him to write, unbeknownst to me, ‘I hate my doctor.’ Very naughty. He was such a sweetheart. But I don’t bring anybody back unless I enjoy their art. If it’s a squeaky violin, I don’t bring them back.”
“My mother, before she passed, was in a hospital in New York City that has a huge arts program. They have a whole floor, and grand pianos, and they get people from Juilliard to come and play. But she was in her room one day and these people came around to sing for her and it was horrible. They had icky voices, they were off key, and they were so condescending. They sang some sweetsy, nauseating song. She threw them right out. Stop, she said, stop, I don’t want that. But they do have Juilliard people come play their piano, so they also have a gorgeous program.”
“I don’t go everywhere, and I always go in the room and ask if they would like it. Most people are surprised—you wanna do what, play music in my room? And I do everything now. I bring poets, and I have an actor coming this evening from Playmakers and she’ll read a monologue from Jitney the play. I have dancers and I have a keyboard that I bring around on a rolling cart and a musician will just stand up and play. It’s all good art, so they really enjoy it, and they feel treated. One woman said she felt like royalty.”
“My other program I adore doing also, where I coach people in how to present themselves. So I’m always a little nervous to be presenting myself. I hope I come across well. It began at the same time, that very same year, that I started working for UNC. Again, it was just odd luck. A woman at Duke came in—Margo. She was a chaplain, and she needed a theater coach. She had tried for six years to be a supervisor and they turned her down every year. She invited me to come to a mock trial they were doing. I swear, it was like the Last Supper. There was a table rounded and there were 12 people at it. I sat in the middle. The rest of them were chaplains, and it was like bad cop, good cop. They made her cry. It was insulting and they cursed a little bit. It was shocking. They finished this question and answer, and at the end of the time she got feedback from the chaplains. Then she said, Joy, do you have anything you could offer? And I offered her every thought I had, not about what she’d said, but rather about what she did—how she was sitting, she was a little curled in, she had a really young looking outfit on, all buttoned up with a Peter Pan collar. She had a little indentation in her forehead that looked like a third eye, and I talked about that. They were all kind of horrified. But two months later, she came to see me, and she had passed! She was a supervisor. She said, ‘I really think a lot of it was not what I was saying, it was that I was thrown by what they were doing to me and it felt like I couldn’t be a good supervisor. When you made me understand what they were seeing, I could change it—use a better voice, sit taller, be stronger, take my time, pause.’ So that was my first client of In the Public Eye: Effective Communication.”
“I work with Duke scholar students, the Trinity Scholars, the Baldwin Scholars, as well as some faculty and UNC students. For years I’ve been a coach to the medical students mostly at Duke but also at UNC, helping them with how they interview and getting that history of the patient. Again, the non-verbals as well as the verbals. What they ask, but also how are they asking. So I’ve been doing that for years and years also. It’s always interesting. Every one of them is different. They’re brilliant. My motto is that I teach my clients to speak so that they’re listened to carefully. Not just listened to, but listened to carefully.”
“Jacob Javits…was pretty amazing. We never lived in Washington. My mother loved New York and he loved New York. When he was a senator, he was allowed to park his car and literally walk up the ramp to the airplane. He parked right next to the plane and flew to New York and took a cab home. Sometimes he almost commuted. In fact, he didn’t own a place there, he stayed in a hotel room when he was in Washington. Because he would almost come home every night sometimes. After a while he started staying. He was senator for 24 years. I don’t know if he was around with security because it was long ago. He passed away in 1986. We still miss him like crazy. My mother recently passed away. My parents were both way into art, especially my mother. She was so, so beautiful.”
Peruse the entire Humans of Chapelboro series here.