Creating Joy for Children - Mark Ostrom
Whenever Mark Ostrom talks about a finished project at his job, he gets a little teary emotional. His job – at Joy Collaborative, a nonprofit Mark founded – is to create environments where children with life-limiting conditions can flourish, where they can be comfortable, safe, independent, and create community.
“Once you see a kid turn that corner in their new space and you see their face, you’re changed forever,” Mark said.
The Joy Collaborative creates Joy Rooms, and they transform these spaces from places where kids have to be, such as hospitals, to places where children want to be. “There’s a lot of power in design,” Mark said, “and it can be used for healing.”
“Joy Collaborative came to be through my desire to bring a high level of design excellence to kids who are vulnerable and in need where resources to families or other nonprofits were slim,” Mark said.
After a career in corporate interior design, Mark wanted to use his skills and his network to help others. Joy Collaborative began at his kitchen table and has grown to create Joy Rooms that are experienced by 5,125 youth so far in the Twin Cities.
One of those Joy Rooms is in collaboration with Firefighters for Healing, a nonprofit that provides emergency housing support for burn survivors and families of injured first responders. The kids and families are in the Transitional Housing facility for weeks, and it can be very isolating. Having a nonclinical space like a Joy Room where kids can go to hang out can go a long way to help the emotional healing process.
At Firefighters for Healing, it means these kids have a space designed just for them. And the Joy Collaborative worked with Affinity Plus to make it happen. “Working with the staff at Affinity Plus was about more than just numbers,” Mark said “– it’s about making a difference.”
“Affinity Plus went above and beyond on their contributions to the Firefighters For Healing Joy Room.” he said. Mark has been an Affinity Plus member since college, and has no plans on changing that up anytime soon, for his personal or business banking. “The people that we’ve met over the years that we’ve been members have just been top notch,” Mark said.
As for the Joy Collaborative, Mark plans to take it beyond the Twin Cities and further into Minnesota and beyond. He's working to expand the Joy Squad of volunteers, and the influence people can have when they work together.
Are you a trades-person looking for a meaningful opportunity to give back? Mark is
always on the lookout for volunteer designers, carpenters, and other trades to bring his visions to life! You can learn more at www.joycollaborative.org.
Ready to make a difference in your community? Join Affinity Plus. We’re here to build.