If you find a sack full of plastic grocery bags underneath Joyce Boshell’s desk at Alabama Power‘s division office in downtown Mobile, don’t be surprised.
“People here at work save bags for me,” Boshell said. “I have a bag under my desk right now that someone has brought me.”
The bags have nothing to do with Boshell’s work as an administrative assistant, but rather what she does in her spare time: helping the homeless.
“I learned about ground mats at another mission experience where we were taught how to cut grocery bags into strips and make plarn, plastic yarn, and loop it together to crochet a mat,” Boshell said. “It measures three feet by six feet to lay on the ground. It provides a waterproof barrier for the individual to sleep on, just helping with their comfort.”
Each mat requires 700 plastic grocery bags and thousands of hours of crocheting. She’s taught a few others at Saraland United Methodist Church how to crochet the mats, but most of her friends help by bringing her their used grocery bags.
“If those 700 bags don’t wind up in a landfill or our waterways, all the better,” Boshell said. “We pray that it protects them, heals them, helps them on their journey.”
Helping the homeless became a personal mission for Boshell many years ago when her church helped her through a difficult time in her life.
“I was divorced for two and a half years, trying to keep body and soul together, food on the table, kids in shoes, and got to a point where at one time I was working two jobs,” Boshell said. “My church discovered my plight and came to my aid with a check to pay the gas company one time when we had no gas. I knew that I was getting to the point to where I could eventually be homeless, so I have a heart for the homeless.”
Beth Thomas, corporate communication manager for Alabama Power, said Boshell’s giving spirit is inspiring to Thomas and other employees.
“She has a giving heart,” Thomas said. “She has an amazing attitude. She’s always willing to give her best, to put her best foot forward, to do more than is required and she’s always willing to help people.”
Boshell said she simply wants to share love with others in the way it has been shown to her.
“My faith is a big part of me,” Boshell said. “Jesus said, ‘When you do anything to the least of these, you do it unto me,’ so that’s foremost in my mind.”
Each month, Alabama NewsCenter spotlights employees for their contributions to the company and the role they play in elevating Alabama.