We're excited to connect with our alumni through our Darlington Connects series. Today we hear from Amy and Gaines Dempsey (’94, ’94) and about their inspiring story and connections to bring Java Joy to Rome, Ga.
Now this is a story with a lot of Darlington connections -- the most important one being the connection between Amy and Gaines Dempsey while they were classmates at Darlington.
After graduating from Darlington in 1994, they both went to UGA, started dating, graduated and then got married. They have lived in Rome since 1999 and have three beautiful daughters. Gaines started Dempsey Appraisal, and Amy has served the Rome community as a labor and delivery nurse at Floyd Medical Center. Their connections and service to the community run deep, but it is ever expanding now in the most joyful way.
Amy and Gaines Demspey have spearheaded bringing Java Joy to Rome, Ga., and both the Rome and Darlington communities could not be more excited.
Amy first heard about Extra Special People (ESP), the parent organization of Java Joy, several years ago and was inspired by their mission “to create transformative experiences for people with disabilities and their families, changing communities for the better.” Having a personal experience with a child with disabilities, Amy knew that she wanted to learn more about this organization. So, she reached out to Cammie and Bill Temple (‘90 LD ’20, ‘90 LD ’15); the Temples had a relationship with Laura Whitaker, executive director of ESP, through Leadership Georgia, and they helped make the connection.
Extra Special People is an organization that works with children with disabilities through programming to serve over 500 participants from over 30 counties in Georgia through eight weeks of summer camp, annual after-school enrichment programs, and ongoing family support. Amy and Gaines knew that the Rome community could benefit from this type of an organization, so they spent time with ESP in Athens to put together a plan.
One of the exciting things about ESP is Java Joy, which has created job opportunities for ESP alumni. Java Joy is a mobile catering coffee cart that can be hired by businesses, schools, or other organizations to come to your event. Java Joy doesn’t just bring coffee; it brings joy. The employees of Java Joy are people with disabilities whose job is to provide you with a cup of coffee and give you a joyful experience in ways others can’t.
“Getting a cup of coffee from Java Joy is not just about a cup of coffee, it’s a culture,” said Amy. “It’s providing the customer with positive interaction with someone with disabilities that you might not have had before. It helps break down barriers and, quite frankly, makes everyone involved feel good. Most importantly, Java Joy gives people with disabilities the opportunity to find successful employment. It allows them to have a job when they can work with other friends with disabilities and provide their customers with a great cup of coffee.”
Gaines added, “Our immediate goal is for Rome to enjoy the relationship with Java Joy staff, coffee from Lumina Coffee, and create a welcoming community for people with disabilities. And then ultimately, we would like to create a home for ESP here in our community. ESP will be wonderful for Rome and vice versa.”
Amy and Gaines have been the face of Java Joy in Rome and have done most of the planning, fundraising and organizing. However, they have been blown away by the support of the Rome and Darlington communities.
“We are especially grateful for Andrea and Brent Bell who have supported us behind the scenes, but also invited Java Joy to have our Rome launch at Darlington on Oct. 26. We can’t wait!”
Head of School Brent Bell said the Darlington Community is especially excited to not only be Java Joy’s first Rome event, but also to be able to have them on campus again Oct. 30 to celebrate the Halloween activities with grades pre-K to 8. “We are amazed and humbled by the work of the leaders of ESP and Java Joy and are honored to be able to support Amy and Gaines in any way we can,” said Bell. “Amy and Gaines make us proud with their Service Beyond Self, which is exactly what we strive to teach our students.”
To connect with Amy and Gaines about Java Joy, ESP, or to support their work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a Darlington alum (or do you know one) with an interesting career or community involvement? We'd love to spotlight you in a future blog! Please email email@example.com if you are interested in being featured.