By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
Panhandling for Joy in Albuquerque
Thirteen dollars and 10 cents and a snack wrap for less than an hour’s work isn’t bad, right? Or not?
Well, let me explain. Last Wednesday afternoon, my assistant Kathy Sotelo volunteered to do some research “for the cause,” so to speak. She stood for just less than an hour on the I40 off ramp at Rio Grande and I40 “flying a sign,” and we waited to see the results.
I was close by, but stayed out of sight as much as possible. Accompanying us was Albuquerque Christian television station KAZQ TV 32 videographer Howard Holley. He planned to use some of the experience for the infomercial we air on the station.
Within a few minutes, I was already too hot and if I’d been the one panhandling would have given up very quickly. Perspiration was pouring down my forehead, which was rapidly beginning to resemble the color of a cooked lobster. I burn very easily and have a head that’s too big for many caps and hats.
About 50 minutes after we started, it was time to conclude the experiment. Kathy ditched the sign and Howard asked her about the experience. She started off with the worst part. “It was when I was asked to come back to a guy’s apartment and ‘clean.’ He had a very derogatory tone in his voice. It made me think he had other things in mind.”
Kathy reflectively said there are some women who for whatever reason would have taken advantage of that.
“Yes,” I thought to myself, “and if they had, who knows where or how they may have ended up. Who would have had the ‘advantage’ then?”
Conversely, Kathy added, “One guy shouted, ‘good luck.’ The words of encouragement were nice.”
Looking back at the experience, Kathy said panhandling wasn’t something she could do. She said some people would glance at her and look away. They didn’t want to make eye contact.
“Panhandling,” Kathy continued, “is dangerous, humiliating and dismissing.”
Kathy recalled a response from one man in a car who yelled, “Hey, baby.”
She continued, “I was thinking, ‘You don’t even know me.’”
About people who say panhandlers are lazy, Kathy said it’s most definitely not an easy way to earn money.
She said, “My hands were shaking in the beginning and I didn’t know what people were thinking. This was just an experiment, and after my hands are still shaking.”
However, Howard and I were still curious about what Kathy thought of earning the $13.10, not a bad “take” for just less than an hour’s work.
Just before she answered, an Albuquerque Police Department cruiser stopped on Rio Grande, and Officer Martinez, a female, got out of the car and walked quickly toward us. The officer, who was very pleasant, said APD had gotten “a lot” of calls about us.
I told her that we were from Joy Junction and just conducting an experiment. Officer Martinez said that panhandling was illegal and subject to a citation, fine and even jail.
I was curious, as I had thought that only aggressive panhandling was illegal, not all panhandling. Officer Martinez emphasized that all panhandling was illegal. I thanked her, said we would be on our way soon, and she left.
Interestingly, just after we vacated our “spot,” it was filled by someone else.
So yes, while $13.10 and a little food isn’t too shabby for less than an hour’s work, it can set some real big wheels in motion- those of the justice system. They can crush you.
Just imagine if Kathy had been panhandling for real. She could have been cited and ordered to appear in court. When she didn’t, a warrant would have been issued for her arrest and (if she wasn’t already) she would have officially become part of “the system.”
In addition to being “wanted,” that warrant would have made her ineligible for services for service from the Bernalillo County Detox-MATS (Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services). After all, if you have a warrant for panhandling, who wants to spend time in jail so you can go back to MATS?
That’s sometimes an issue for us at Joy Junction. If someone falls off the wagon while on our program, we like to send them to MATS to get assistance. However, if a warrant is in the picture, there’s no help available until it gets taken care of.
I understand citations and arrests for aggressive panhandlers who are harassing and scaring people, but using an officer’s time to deal with a non aggressive panhandler? How many “real” crimes were occurring while an officer’s time was tied up with this? It’s worth thinking about.
A little later I was thinking about the “lot” of people who had called APD about Kathy’s panhandling. I wondered exactly how many people had called, and why. Didn’t they have anything better to do? Looking on the bright side, maybe they were calling for Kathy’s “protection.” While Howard had tried to make himself invisible, it hadn’t worked that well. Kathy said while standing in her spot, several people had alerted her to his presence.
But with panhandling being illegal, why do we see panhandlers citywide?
A spokesperson for Albuquerque police told KOAT 7 back in April that the city enforces the ordinance on a case by case basis. Some officers arrest panhandlers, while others just take away their signs asking for money and tell them to move on.
Panhandling for Themselves
Having conducted our own panhandling experiment, I wondered about the panhandling experience of some of the guests staying at Joy Junction. A few were willing to talk.
Josephina told one of our staff she had panhandled for a while in Albuquerque. She said she had been cited and arrested once and jailed with a $100,00 cash bond.
Josephina said she was ordered to not hang out in front of the store any more where she had been panhandling.
Josephina said she’d had both good and bad experiences panhandling. She claimed some of the men who gave to her wanted more than a “thank you.” They were hoping for sex.
In addition, she added, store owners and employees were mean, treated her “horribly,” and ran her off.
On the good side, Josephina said, many “religious people” were very generous.
Annette said she had also been panhandling for a while in Albuquerque. She told us she was cited and had to go to court.
However, she continued, the judge postponed the hearing, dropped the panhandling charges and charged her with an interfering with traffic violation. Annette didn’t remember the amount of the fine.
Annette said panhandling was a good experience, claiming she made between $300.00 and $350.00 daily from drivers of cars, whom, she said, routinely waved her down.
Katrina, also panhandling for a while but never cited, described the experience as “scary.” She said most people with whom she interacted would give her stuff, such as food, rather than giving her money. She added that on occasion, workers from area businesses would bring food out to her.
Elizabeth said she has panhandled for a while in both Belen and Albuquerque, although she said Albuquerque was more profitable. She said she has never been cited but had been run off by business owners.
Elizabeth said working between three and four hours daily, she could make between $20.00 and $40.00 a day.
So whether it was the money Kathy made (which was all donated to Joy Junction) or the funds these Joy Junction guests claimed to pull in, taking the risks into account-like fines and possible jail time, it doesn’t seem quite so good after all.
What do you think about changing the 2004 Albuquerque ordinance that makes all panhandling illegal, and just restricting it to “aggressive” panhandling? That might just free up some police time and ensure people don’t get sucked into the downward spiral that occurs when they enter the justice system, as well as keeping them out of the already overcrowded Metropolitan Detention Center.
It’s worth thinking about, right?
For more information about Joy Junction, visit www.joyjunction.org
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
Controversial Viral Video Tells Viewers to “Fitch the Homeless.”
Joy Junction Gives Abercrombie & Fitch Clothing to Guests: Urges Others to Give Clothing to their Local Homeless Shelter
Writer Greg Karber is giving Abercrombie & Fitch clothing to the homeless, and he’s hoping others will join in.
According to Karber’s YouTube viral video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=O95DBxnXiSo&feature=player_detailpage), it’s his way of responding to recent reports about A&F CEO Mike Jeffries.
Jeffries has been in the news this week because he said that A&F clothes are for “cool kids” and are absolutely “exclusionary.”
Karber’s stance has plenty of detractors, with some homeless advocates saying he is making use of the homeless and “dehumanizing” them.
However, I don’t agree with Karber’s critics. I see many of our homeless guests as being in the same category as those individuals whom Jeffries apparently doesn’t want his stores to serve; they’re marginalized and often scorned.
I hope this video helps bring attention to the plight of the homeless, and brings donations to homeless agencies nationwide in what is often a very dry season for giving.
Joy Junction Transportation Manager Lisa Woodward (who was formerly homeless) said, “I believe … that this response to Abercrombie & Fitch does help open the eyes of many blinded by the injustices done to the homeless or anyone who is not within today’s view of beautiful and worthy of simple respect and dignity.”
She added, “Today’s world sticks its collective nose up in the air to anyone who doesn’t make a certain amount of money per year and is able to fit in size 5 clothing. In addition, the homeless themselves are seen as festering sores on the face of their view of the world and what it should be. Perhaps this gentleman and others like him can widen the view of those with blinders on.”
I’ve read some comments that say Jeffries has a right for his brand to sell-or not-to whomever it wishes.
That’s true. And we also have a right to say what we think of the decisions made by Jeffries and A & F. With that in mind, we had a small giveaway of A& F clothes at Joy Junction on Sat. May 18.
Our guests seem to really appreciate the unexpected bounty, with one man very happy with his A&F shirt. I hope people will tour their local thrift stores, buy up A&F clothing, and donate it to their area homeless shelter.
Karber’s YouTube video touts his idea of giving Abercrombie clothing to the homeless. In the video, he buys A&F clothing from L.A. thrift shops and then gives them away to people living on the streets of East Los Angeles.
There’s also a growing controversy over the fact that A&F does not sell women’s clothing above a size 10.
That’s according to a Business Insider article (www.businessinsider.com/abercrombie-wants-thin-customers-2013-5#ixzz2TbafhVwQl) in which Robin Lewis, co-author of “The New Rules of Retail”, was quoted as saying about Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
A 2006 Salon article (www.salon.com/2006/01/24/jeffries) quoted Jeffries as saying, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
After Jeffries claimed his comments were taken out of context, an eonline article said, (www.eonline.com/news/416531/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-mike-jeffries-doesn-t-want-fat-customers-says-author-robin-lewis/news/416531/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-mike-jeffries-doesn-t-want-fat-customers-says-author-robin-lewis),”While Jeffries’ quotes certainly shed light on the brand’s ads, it’s not clear how much Lewis’ comments reflect his own opinions of A&F and how much they accurately reflected the brand’s actual attitude.”
Author Jennifer Chan continued, “But here’s one thing we can all agree on: If that’s the brand’s true position, it’s clearly going to alienate a lot of people.”
Never a truer word spoken.
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
Here’s my mother’s day story. While I wrote it in 2000 I believe that it is still just as relevant this year as it was back then.
The man made his way slowly up the stairs to the second floor of the hospital where his mother was a patient in the geriatric unit. He walked through the ward, passing by a variety of elderly people in various states of apparent mental difficulties and physical decay.
While he had been warned that his mother’s health was rapidly deteriorating it was still a shock to him when he saw her. She was sleeping but her breathing was heavy and labored. Her hands, lying pathetically at each side of her frail body, were badly swollen. Her once immaculately permed hair fell untidily in all the wrong places.
Being assured by a nurse that it would be okay to wake up his mother, the man went over to his mom and gently placed his hand on her shoulder. “Mom, it’s me,” he said. “Can you wake up?”
The woman stirred, blinked, opened her eyes fully and although a little confused appeared to be pleased to see her visitor.
“How are you?” the man asked.
“Not so good,” she said in a raspy, wheezing voice, speaking with difficulty. “I ask them to come and they don’t. I’ve got bad phlegm. Can you get me some tissues?”
The man took the nurse aside and asked her what exactly was wrong with his mother. She told the man that despite running all sorts of tests they didn’t exactly know. However, none of the tests explained the physical problems being faced by the man’s mother. The nurse pointed out that the man’s mother did have a drug patch attached to her back to help alleviate some of the pain she was experiencing.
After saying goodbye, the man left and came back the next day. His mother was sleeping. This time, things were worse than yesterday. When the man’s mother was woken up, her face was permeated with a blank, vacant stare. She was even unable to recall who had visited her that morning.
Then with the man standing directly in front of her, she said how nice it would be if her so n would come to see her. The man sighed inwardly and went to see the nurse, who again reiterated that while they didn’t know exactly what was wrong with his mother they were still doing all they could to help her. However, his mother apparently didn’t think so. With that vacant gaze she still kept telling her son, (apparently referring to the medical personnel) “I keep calling but they never come.”
A tragic story, but one especially gut wrenching for me – because the elderly woman was my mother. I visited her in late February 2000 as she lay in a hospital bed in South England: a “guest” of the country’s nationalized health service.
A couple of days later I was back in the United States, so glad that a couple of friends had all told me that I should do whatever it took to pay a visit to my “mum” while I could. The week after my return, life went on as usual — except that as you might imagine my mother was never that far from my thoughts.
The following weekend arrived and with it plans for a birthday party for one of my sons, combined with a high school graduation celebration for another and a birthday party for my granddaughter. While it was a happy occasion the joy was tempered by a phone call I received the day of the party.
My mother’s hospital had called saying that she was getting steadily worse and it was not anticipated that she would live through the day. When I asked exactly what was wrong they still didn’t know. In fact, the response I received was very vague and non-committal.
However, being on the other side of the ocean, and being unable to visit physically, what else could we do except pray and commit the situation to the Lord? So that’s exactly what we did. We then began getting the house ready for the party. Mid-way through the gathering, the phone rang. It was a nurse from the hospital in the United Kingdom, saying she was sad to have to tell me that “mum” had passed away a couple of hours before.
As you can imagine, I was very glad that the Lord had prompted me to go see her before she passed on. (The Lord had also been gracious enough to provide the funds for the airfare as well). However, I was especially thrilled that some months before this, when “Mum” first became ill, that I had contacted the pastor from my old church in Bournemouth, England and that he had agreed to go and visit my mother.
While my mother had initially been very hostile to the gospel when I gave my life to the Lord in England in the mid 1970′s, (probably due at least in part to my over zealousness in the way I shared the gospel with her) she received Pastor Vic very warmly. As I knew he would, Vic told my mom all about the love that Jesus Christ had for her. When he asked her if she believed what he was saying, she apparently replied (in that feisty manner that only she could) “Of course I do, I’m Church of England.”
I believe that one day I will join “mum” around the throne of the Lord and we will praise and worship Him together for all eternity. Maybe some of you reading this have poor or severed relationships with your loved ones. Perhaps some of you haven’t spoken to your parents for years and still have no desire to do so. Maybe they were bad parents and you have absolutely no desire to remember anything at all about your childhood.
I understand. There were some pretty rocky moments between my mother and myself. However, as a believer, I made up my mind some years ago that I was Biblically obligated to forgive my mother and love her no matter what she had or hadn’t done. And after a close friend of hers died a few years ago, I made a schedule to call her regularly so I could at least check on her in some limited fashion.
The situation boils down to this. As a friend of mine once articulately stated, the most important thing in life is relationships; firstly with God and then with each other. Make sure that your relationship with God is right, and then take care of all of the other relationships in your life. You will never regret doing so. We are not promised tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow may never come.
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
Nobody can deny that we live in a seriously troubled world.
We see evidence on a daily basis; violence and killings, a seriously troubled economy, ongoing and seemingly endless political partisan bickering, and so the list goes on.
What a depressing scenario! It’s no wonder that prior to his death convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy Mcveigh was reported to have told the authors of “American Terrorist,” (a book that chronicled McVeigh’s life story and related his story of the crime) that he was looking forward to his impending execution.
He explained why. Because “this world just doesn’t hold anything for me … I’ll be glad to leave this (expletive) world.”
Like McVeigh I also used to feel an overwhelming sense of futility about life in this world. As Billy Graham once said, I was suffering from “cosmic loneliness.”
However, a realization (resulting from a spiritual awakening over 37 years ago) that Jesus Christ had risen bodily from the grave and had conquered death, changed my whole life and replaced aimless futility and loneliness with a sense of hope, purpose and destiny.
It was my new found purpose in life that some years later was directly responsible for my founding Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter. The Lord had been so good to me that I felt constrained to pass on the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to those who were physically homeless; many times spiritually and emotionally adrift and in desperate need of a reason to keep on living.
Sadly, in some parts of today’s troubled culture an unshakeable belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is thought of as being bigoted and exclusive and an outmoded system of thinking.
Yet such a belief could give some badly needed hope and encouragement to the Timothy McVeighs and other troubled individuals possibly waiting in the wings looking for a proverbial place to happen. The hope offered at this Easter season by Jesus Christ is the only sure way of helping them.
Those who dismiss the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus and neglect making Him the basis for their lives, end up (albeit unintentionally) mocking the very foundation upon which Easter is based. All they’re left with is the empty and unsatisfactory shell of the Christian gospel which is unable to provide that desperately needed hope we all crave.
Of course, for some people, this upcoming Easter celebration will be all about eggs. Now there’s nothing wrong with eggs, as long as the central theme of Easter isn’t omitted. Sadly, many times it is.
Easter is about so much more than colored eggs and a good meal. As Asbury Seminary New Testament Professor Ben Witherington once pointed out, the Resurrection, the real heart of Easter, is “not just a spiritual change in a person’s life; nor is it merely the blooming of flowers and trees when spring returns. The Resurrection is the bringing back from the dead of Jesus Christ in the flesh.”
Witherington told a sad but revealing story about standing outside a small English chapel on Easter Sunday morning. He was waiting to talk with a church official about the upcoming service at which he was scheduled to preach.
The man looked at Witherington and said he had to ask him a question. He said, “You do believe in the Resurrection, don’t you?” Witherington said, “Yes, absolutely, that’s what Easter is all about; it’s the heart of the Christian faith.”
The man responded, “I’m ever so relieved. The last chap who preached on Easter didn’t.”
The fact of the resurrection is the very heart and soul of Christianity; not some mythical sort of unquantifiable spiritual transformation, but a physical bodily resurrection. Christianity is the only major world religion where the bones of its founder are not lying in some tomb. That is why Biblical literalists get so excited about the Bible and proclaim that they have found the truth.
This Easter, I encourage you to take an honest look at the claims of Jesus Christ. You will not come away disappointed.
If you do know Jesus Christ personally and like to talk about your faith with others, please share His love both spiritually and physically with the homeless, hungry and needy this Easter season. As the old saying goes, “You may be the only gospel they’ll ever see.”
Joy Junction Joins Other Rescue Mission Leaders on Capitol Hill to Address Issues Critical in Helping Needy Families
FROM JEREMY REYNALDS
AT JOY JUNCTION
TEL: (505) 400-7145
WASHINGTON D.C. Rescue mission leaders from across the United States-who provide free services for thousands in need-were in Washington, D.C., March 17 to 19 to address public policy decisions that could slow or halt their ability to provide valuable services.
The 100-year-old Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) organized the gathering.
“About 275 rescue missions are members of AGRM, North America’s oldest and largest network of independent, Christian faith-based crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers,” said AGRM President John Ashmen.
He added, “Every day, we address the tragic conditions of those ravaged by abuse, imprisoned by addiction, or set adrift because of mental illness, providing practical help and pointing to lasting hope through Jesus Christ. Member missions’ work positively influences their surrounding communities in countless ways.”
During the gathering, 22 rescue mission leaders-representing some of the nation’s largest cities-and AGRM staff discussed public policy issues relevant to their organizations, met with Capitol Hill politicians to educate them about missions’ work, and prayed for the country and its leaders.
Joy Junction Founder and CEO Dr. Jeremy Reynalds and shelter COO Jennifer Munsey were among the attendees at the gathering. They met with staff from Senator Martin Heinrich and Senator Tom Udall’s office, as well as staff from Congressman Steve Pearce and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office.
Reynalds said he and Munsey asked staff to invite legislators to tour Joy Junction and get to know more about the work of the states’s largest, and non governmentally funded, shelter.
Reynalds said among items discussed were the dangers of a cap on the charitable tax deduction, and problems that would be caused by raising the rate non profits pay to mail letters. Like other missions, Joy Junction mails hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail, and receives the majority of its funding through the United States Postal Service.
Ashmen said, “This event is part of AGRM’s larger ongoing efforts to share with national leaders the importance of rescue missions’ invaluable service to people facing the challenges of poverty, homelessness, addiction and abuse. We also address public policy that could be detrimental to missions’ important work.”
A cap or limit to the charitable deduction, for example, would result in a loss of billions of dollars each year in private contributions to serve communities’ critical needs, he said.
Ashmen added, “Everything rescue missions do for hundreds of thousands of people-feeding, sheltering, rehabilitating, counseling, life-skills programs, job training and more-would end up in the government’s lap. Frankly, with its black-hole debt, the government cannot take this on. Moreover, the government does not know how-and definitely shouldn’t attempt-to handle relational and spiritual poverty, which are keys to unlocking the prison doors of destitution for so many of our citizens.”
AGRM’s Government Liaison Rhett Butler works throughout the year to speak up for missions in Washington, D.C., cooperating with like-minded organizations to combat legislation that would hamper missions’ efforts.
In addition to focusing on the charitable deduction, in the past 12 months the association addressed an increase in nonprofit standard postage rates, and fought against the contraception mandate and for rights of religious employers.
Butler said, “AGRM’s priority in this area is to educate congressional leaders, forcing them to take a second look at how the legislation they support and pass on Capitol Hill will affect rescue missions and the men, women and children they serve.”
He added, “Because of missions’ work, thousands of people’s lives are dramatically and positively changing. Our desire is for government policy to encourage, not obstruct, their newfound journey to joy, meaning and productivity.”
Joy Junction has been a long time member of AGRM. Reynalds said he finds the cooperation, networking and opportunities offered by the Washington trip invaluable.
He said, “There’s strength in numbers, and when we can tell legislators and their staff we’re part of a like minded group of about 275 missions, I believe it adds strength and validity to what we say.”
Each year, AGRM member ministries serve approximately 50 million meals, provide more than 20 million nights’ lodging, distribute more than 27 million pieces of clothing, bandage the wounds of hundreds of abuse victims, and graduate more than 18,000 homeless men and women from addiction-recovery programs into productive living. AGRM, founded in 1913, offers radical hospitality in the name of Jesus. Learn more at www.agrm.org.
Learn more about Joy Junction at www.joyjunction.org
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18 KJV). Twenty-six-plus years after founding Joy Junction, I want you to know that my vision remains the same. It is to provide food, shelter, recovery tools, and the love and encouragement of Jesus Christ to homeless, hungry, and distraught families. But my vision is so much bigger than it was at the beginning, as over the last two and a half decades, the need for this ministry has grown exponentially as we have gotten busier than I could have ever imagined.
What are we thinking for the months and years ahead? I’m glad you asked. Some of you may know we are currently in the midst of a capital campaign to renovate and expand our aging facilities. We plan to build a dormitory to ensure that everyone who comes to stay with us has his or her own bed and doesn’t have to sleep on a mat on the floor.
We also want to construct a new chapel where we can hold all our church services, Bible studies, and classes for our life recovery program. Currently we hold all of these in our overused multipurpose building, which also doubles as a dormitory at night and as a dining hall area in the day. What a blessing it will be to have a custom-made building set aside for worship and teaching! The chapel will also serve as a community church, open to the public.
In addition to a dormitory and a chapel, we have had an architect design a vocational training center, where participants in our life recovery program will be able to learn computer basics and other skills that can be transferred to the job market, such how to repair cars or do manicures and pedicures. Then, once they graduate from our nine-month program, in addition to gaining a measure of stability, participants will also have a skill to take with them when they leave Joy Junction. That will make it so much easier to get reintegrated into mainstream community life and become stable.
Last but not least, we are planning on building a center exclusively for women and for their children, if they’re mothers. Sometimes women have been subjected to such a level of abuse that for a time they are just not able to be in close proximity to men. In fact, the very sight of a man gets their adrenalin rushing. This women’s center will be such a helpful tool in their recovery!
All these improvements will be built on our fifty-two acre campus in the South Valley. While we initially hoped to build the entire project at once, it looks like we will have to build in stages, starting first with the dormitory and then the chapel. Not taking into account donated materials and some volunteer labor, we’re estimating we will initially need about five million dollars for those two facilities. Of course, that’s a lot of money, but we believe that the same God who birthed Joy Junction and has kept us afloat since our inception will also help us gather these funds. We have a website dedicated specifically to this project: www.togetherwecan.joyjunction.org. I hope you will take a look and consider a generous gift.
In addition to the new construction, we’re also mindful of the need for an additional mobile food truck to serve as a second Lifeline of Hope. As well as the ten thousand or so meals we serve monthly at Joy Junction, we also provide about six thousand more meals each month (as well as beverages, blankets, sleeping bags, and more) to needy and homeless folks across the city through the Lifeline.
Since we first began this venture about three years ago, the need has escalated so much that we frequently run out of food midway through a route. We just can’t get any more food on our current truck. When the Lifeline leaves Joy Junction, it does so fully loaded. We are, quite literally, filled to the brim with food and other supplies every time we go out. Would you pray about buying and funding the operation of another Lifeline of Hope?
Our long-range thinking includes potential expansion out of town—and even in other states. We’ve had a vision for some time to take the Joy Junction model to other cities and set up shelters for homeless families there. While there are more shelters than there used to be for homeless families, they are definitely in the minority. Sadly, it is still much more common for families in need of shelter to be split up. The issue of the lack of homeless shelters for entire families was the focus of an NBC news program that aired in late 2012. Those interviewed all agreed America needs more family shelters.
This is just a peek at what we have in mind. I hope we can count on your prayerful and financial support.
My benediction for you is that you have complete faith in God as you seek to serve the homeless in his name. God has a special blessing for you: “Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands … He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor” (Ps. 112:1, 9).
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
Did you pray when you got up this morning?
If so, was it a quick prayer asking the Lord to be involved in your day, or was it a little more profound? For many of us it’s often something really quick.
When we’ve uttered those few words (and perhaps fulfilled our “obligation),” we then move onto the day’s practical realities.
So with that in mind, when our life recovery program instructor at Joy Junction told me he had asked some of our program participants to list their most frequent prayers, I was intrigued. What would they be? “Lord, make me rich,” or “Give me a job so I can get an apartment and get out of this place?”
Our nine month life recovery program, based on the Tyndale House Life Recovery Bible, is a core part of what we do at Joy Junction. It is under the supervision of a case manager and a chaplain and includes classes, Bible studies and volunteer work assignments.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) at what I found. Their prayers were so much more profound than I had imagined. Here are some examples.
I saw that some prayed for peace with others, forgiveness and reunification with their family.
Just think about that for a minute. So many of our guests come to us having experienced serious substance abuse issues. Whether they’ve struggled with drugs or alcohol, it’s still been an uphill battle. During the fight, many former relationships have been burned and bridges burned with both friends and family. In a number of cases, families have had to cut off contact with the substance abusing relative in order to ensure emotional survival.
Now having enrolled in our program and experienced a few months of sobriety, they’re in a place to assess where they’re at in their life and where they want to go. Recovery is on the horizon.
Others participants said they give thanks for waking up, and thank God for the upcoming day. These prayers reminded me of my friend Christian singer Randy Stonehill’s classic song about the uncertainty of life titled, “Celebrate this Heartbeat.” The words encourage you to enjoy each minute of your life, because you can never be sure when it’s going to be over.
If homeless people living in our Joy Junction community can be that appreciative, what does that mean for us? Shouldn’t we be at least half as grateful? After all, most of you reading this probably have a job and a house – something our guests at Joy Junction are still working toward.
Others prayed that God would be in the middle of what was happening to them, and to take away pride.
These prayers especially blessed me. Staying at a shelter for the homeless and relying on the kindness of others for their meals and a place to stay (which we tend to take for granted), these individuals were asking that God would be in the midst of their situation and … take away pride.
Hmmh … how much pride would you be asking God to remove if you knew that your supper and bed tomorrow night would be at Joy Junction? How prideful would you feel if you knew that you were at least temporarily unable to support your wife and children? There’s some profound insight going into these prayers.
Others program participants asked for patience, guidance and success. More good prayers. When you’re homeless you certainly need God given patience and guidance. You need it to properly react when you’re living in close proximity to a number of often difficult people with whom you may never associate unless you were homeless.
Then, for example, you need patience to navigate the time consuming public transportation system, as well as a host of other issues.
One woman prayed that her spouse would stay clean. Over 30-plus years of helping New Mexico’s homeless, I’ve encountered many women and their children who are homeless because of their husband’s addiction. Despite a trail of broken promises and family devastation, most of these individuals usually stay with their husbands. They hope that someday they’ll change and they’ll be able to experience at least a slice of the American dream and a bit of family togetherness.
Another person prayed for an increased relationship with Christ, which as a faith based ministry, is what Joy Junction is all about. The addiction struggles faced by many of our guests have often started off by using excessive alcohol and illegal drugs in an attempt to numb the painful struggles that have characterized their lives.
While we advocate cooperation with all medical professionals, we are convinced that the cornerstone of a recovered life is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Will you help us continue sharing the hope of new life in Jesus with our ever increasing number of guests? As they count on us for encouragement and physical necessities while they walk the road to recovery, we’re counting on your continued prayerful and financial support.
For more information go to www.joyjunction.org
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeremy Reynalds at Joy Junction
Date: March 8, 2013 (505) 400-7145
Beginning Sat. March 9 at 9.30 a.m., Joy Junction is expanding its Let’s Read! Program to include the services of a trained tutor who will work with children and their parents for two hours each week at the shelter.
Incorporating music, art, dance, movement, and play, the tutor will encourage children to read and will demonstrate reading engagement techniques to parents. More than just a story time, the Saturday morning sessions will be a time for families to have fun with books.
The Let’s Read! Program was launched at Joy Junction in Oct. 2012 with the help of two small grants which have provided funding for the purchase of more than 400 children’s books, a library cart, 20 children’s chairs, and a trained reading tutor.
In addition to the weekly tutoring sessions, the children’s library for the Let’s Read! Program is made available to the shelter children after school throughout the week. The library for the Let’s Read! Program includes board books, picture books, beginning readers, chapter books, and other books appropriate for pre-school and elementary-aged children. Volunteers and parents read to and with the children.
The Let’s Read! Program encourages the children to engage with books and also provides opportunities for meaningful interaction between parents and their children.
Studies show that this type of early experience with literacy is important to a child’s success in school. Reading to children and giving them access to books greatly improves the likelihood that they will develop strong reading skills, widely believed to be the single-most important factor in insuring student success in school.
The Let’s Read! Program is one more tool that Joy Junction can use to fulfill the mission to help break the cycle of homelessness, one life at a time.
For more information about Joy Junction, call 505 217-9586 or visit the website www.joyjunction.org
I never suspected that a simple status update I posted recently on Joy Junction’s Facebook page would provoke such a hostile response.
This was what I wrote. “On a both windy and busy evening at Joy Junction, a lack of space has so far obligated us to deny shelter to eight people. Please say a prayer for their protection and safety.”
The response was rambling, vitriolic and sadly uninformed. The writer accused Joy Junction of “always” asking for money, and having “land for trailers and mobile homes.” She also said we had “taken over” her church and community center.
Well, as many of you know, things are not usually as simple as they seem without all the facts, and I suspect there is nothing I or members of my staff could say to the writer to change her mind.
However, as to the facts, we have never “taken over” a church or community center, and while we do have property that is big enough for trailers, we are not allowed to add more.
As the many homeless women, children and families we assist daily do not come to Joy Junction with funds in hand, we must regularly make the need known. Doing so enables us to work to break the cycle of homelessness, one life at a time.
However, sadder than this person’s criticisms of Joy Junction was her hostility toward those whom we serve.
She wrote, “Who are those folks that (take) the bus in the a.m? Are they drug addicts? Why are they packing for a month’s trip? Are they going to a job?”
I wish this woman had taken the time to ask us for a tour and for some information about our guests. She would have learned that our overnight residents carry all their worldly possessions on and off Joy Junction property each day. They’re not “packing for a month’s trip.” They probably wish they were.
And many of these individuals apparently observed by this writer probably wish they were going for a job interview. However, where do you stash all of your belongings if you’re homeless and fortunate enough to land a job interview? Outside the job site?
The woman continued her diatribe. She wrote, “I worry about folks on 2nd Street who live in the past (sic), when it was ok to leave the door open while feeding the animals and tending the garden. People from JJ constantly walking up & down 2nd Street. What are they doing? Where do they get the (dollars?) Who’s responsible if they hurt innocent folks while they explore the neighborhoods?”
To the best of my knowledge, there has never, in almost our 27 years of operation, been an instance where one of our residents harmed a neighbor.
However, there are numerous other neighborhoods and areas in Albuquerque not frequented by our guests which have witnessed violent crimes and even a home invasion or two.
Sadly, it’s much easier to generalize and talk about people carrying a suitcase, or perhaps pushing a shopping cart, than it is to take time and find out what has brought them to this difficult time in their lives.
The writer continued, “Inhabitants seem to have money to walk up and down Second Street to (the) small store and take the bus every day.”
Well, yes. Some of our overnight guests may panhandle for their “disposable income.” While media occasionally report about large sums of money earned by panhandling, my 30-plus years of experience working with New Mexico’s homeless have shown me that such an experience is the exception rather than the rule.
Other guests receive disability income from the government for a variety of reasons. They include veterans who have put their lives on the line to defend us-and the rights of this critic to criticize them when they get sick, come back to our country and are unable to enter the mainstream.
This individual seems as if she would deny the homeless the right to walk up and down Second Street. I hope that’s not what she means!
The writer did ask one important question about our guests. She opined, “How are they making their lives better?”
If she had taken a tour of the shelter, she would have learned that a number of our guests are enrolled in our very intensive nine month life recovery program. Prior to their enrollment in the program, most of these individuals started the road to recovery by being overnight guests at Joy Junction, and walking up and down Second Street for a few days or more.
At some point they joined our program. It is based on the Tyndale Life Recovery Bible, and includes (among other things) a strict accountability system, classes, Bible study, a graduation ceremony and job search.
Participants work with our chaplain, case manager, resident manager and other staff.
From time to time, we’re blessed to hear from former guests and program graduates who tell us, both on the phone and sometimes in person, that they stayed at Joy Junction in months past or years gone by, and that they’re back on their feet again and contributing to the community.
What a blessing that is! However, the road to recovery starts with a frightened and embarrassed man, woman or family perhaps carrying a suitcase and beginning the road to recovery by walking up the driveway to Joy Junction.
Embarrassed, they open the door and ask, “Can you help us?”
Our answer has always been “yes.” Will you help us continue?
NEWS RELEASE FROM JOY JUNCTION
CONTACT JEREMY REYNALDS AT
AMC’s critically acclaimed series “Breaking Bad” filmed in Albuquerque hasn’t just done good for the city economy-it’s now helping Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter.
Joy Junction Founder and CEO Dr. Jeremy Reynalds said, “Last week we were given a number of boxes of clothing used in past “Breaking Bad” shows by the cast. We will be selling these items in our thrift store starting Feb. 27 at 2 p.m.We are very appreciative of this donation.”
Reynalds said while the donation will obviously provide some cash to the shelter, it will also give some of “Breaking Bad’s” many fans an opportunity to claim a piece of show memorabilia for themselves.
He added, “Fans love the show, so it’s just great that we can give some of them a lasting memory and while so doing help Joy Junction as well.”
Joy Junction shelters as many as 300 people each night, and feeds about 16,000 meals a month. It is supported by private, freewill giving.
For more information about Joy Junction go to www.joyjunction.org
To learn more about “Breaking Bad,” go to www.amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad