The Mendez family, who opened Jojo’s Grind in Central Mall after their daughter Evangelina killed herself less than two years ago, lost their first daughter Takemi to suicide on Monday, May 9.
Evangelina Mendez lived with bipolar disorder until November 21, 2020. May 9 would have been her 31st birthday.
Heather Mendez is the mother of Evangelina, Takemi, Mia and has now adopted Elva Mendez, Takemi’s daughter.
She said the family received a lot of help from the community to launch Jojo’s Grind.
After: Mental Health Unit Responds to Police Calls
Previously:Community Connects Veterans to Mental Health Resources
Fort Smith Coffee Co., Sweet Bay Coffee Co., First National Bank, Central Mall General Manager Scott McDonald and others helped Jojo’s Grind open in 2021.
Heather Mendez would like to thank Ketchen Padillia for creating the cafe menu and Alayne Tobey for creating the logo.
“When the kids were younger, they couldn’t say his name,” she said. “So they were staying with Angel, but when they couldn’t tell Angel, Jojo came out, so it was Jojo.”
Mendez said his family business allows him to bring his kids to work, go on dates and have a flexible schedule.
Takemi would have turned 33 on May 11. She was living with schizophrenic affective disorder and multiple personality disorder.
She attended the New Activity Center where she participated in daily treatment with psychology professionals.
Her mother said that Takemi loved arts and crafts, gifts, caring for others and her sisters.
When the Mendez kids were going through mental health crises, Rudy Ledbetter, chief pricing and supply chain engineer at ArcBest, donated panels with a hotline to text in case of an emergency. ’emergency.
The signs say “You Matter” and “Don’t Give Up”. Below, a message reads: “In crisis? Text ‘HOME’ to 741741.”
The Crisis text line, a global non-profit organization, provides free mental health texting services through confidential text-based crisis intervention. The organization’s services are available 24 hours a day in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland.
“We didn’t know much about it until we had to cross it,” Heather Mendez said. “And we’ve been going through it for over 10 years.”
She said she was grateful the Fort Smith Police Department Crisis Response Unit was formed.
The unit responds to calls from people in mental health crisis and has extensive training to respond.
Takemi Mendez was a mother of two daughters, a sister and an aunt.
Caitlyn Sisney, a former employee of Hounds Tooth, wrote the obituary for Takemi Mendez.
Sisney also created a flyer with information about the family business and Takemi and Mendez’s legacy at the Central Mall. It is available from Jojo’s Grind with a Donation Cash App username for funeral donations.
“(Takemi) brought a lot of love and kindness to the mall community and everyone who knew her,” she said. “Although she struggled with her mental illness and anxiety, she still got out as often as she could to see everyone at the mall and help her family with Jojo’s Grind.”
Sisney explained that this family business was more than a cafe for many in the community.
“I believe when you leave this cafe after every visit you’ve left with your must-have daily drink accompanied by words of wisdom,” she said. “I believe that with every visit and purchase, you were asked how your life was going.”
Heather Mendez said when Takemi first passed away, the family took time to “grow stronger.”
She said her community at the Evangel Temple Assembly of God supported the family in healing.
“We have people praying for us, so the prayer and the body of Christ and all the help we got from everyone (supported us),” she said.
Mendez and her daughter Mia said Takemi always put others before herself.
“She was very caring and generous, on the holidays she would buy stuff to give out, not only to her kids and family members, but also to people,” Heather Mendez said.
As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, a family would like to remind the Fort Smith community to connect with loved ones year-round.
#JoJos #Grind #family #loses #daughter #suicide