By a Joy Junction Staff Member (JBF)
Yes! It’s true.
We’ve been here for 34 years…and we couldn’t have done it without you!
Our faithful supporters are very much loved and depended on for the continual ministry we seek to carry on every day of the year.
Without the help of compassionate people, who really do want to see others rise above their heartbreaking homeless circumstance, we would be hard-pressed to provide the shelter, food, and programs that we do.
As you may remember, Dr. Jeremy Reynalds founded Joy Junction in 1986 after experiencing the insecurity of hunger and homelessness. He had a dream of being able to minister to the innumerous amount of people who were left out on the street, and worked hard to fulfill it.
The reason causing their homelessness did not matter to him. The fact that they were homeless touched his heart and he wanted to help. He had a big, generous heart, and he could not just turn a blind eye to their needs.
He felt God had placed that calling on his life.
Jeremy would often stop and talk to a homeless person standing on the side of the street, or sitting in a park, or leaning up against a building. He truly did want to find out what had caused them to be in the position they were currently in.
He fully understood what it was like to be hungry and wish that someone…anyone…would take the time to speak to him, or give him something to eat.
That compassion is one of the many characteristics God blessed him with, and why he was driven to reach out to those who had fallen on such hard times.
From the early age of 20, Jeremy felt the “call of the Lord” upon his life. He attended London Bible College and gained valuable knowledge, which he used to encourage those he came in contact with.
At that young age, he immigrated to America – landing in Orlando, Florida in 1978 with $50 in his pocket.
He had been raised within a pampered life style, so having only $50 was quite a hard thing to comprehend.
How would he make that stretch? With God’s help, he was provided for one step at a time. He had no idea what his future would look like. It was the beginning of a completely different, and eye-opening life for him.
In the spring of 1979, he got married, and children soon followed. Not being trained in any particular field, Jeremy worked in a variety of odd jobs to support his family. Little did he know that he was about to embark on a “reality check” of life. The lack of income resulted in his family becoming homeless in the fall of 1981.
The year ahead wound up being the toughest part of his journey. While a kind family offered shelter for his wife and kids, they did not for him. In January 1982, during the middle of the night, he set out on the road to see if he could find work. He had enough money for a bus ticket to Dallas, Texas. He hitchhiked for the rest of the trip. He endured freezing days and nights from the cold the weather. He received help from strangers occasionally, and slept on fiberglass at one point, but continued on until he reached Santa Fe, New Mexico.
”As hard as the lessons were to learn,” said Jeremy, “My homeless experiences helped shape the ministry that eventually became Joy Junction.”
In July 1982, with the help of some Christian groups in Santa Fe, he started a small ministry called “His Place.” It began as a coffeehouse during the week, and in November 1983, it became a shelter for homeless men during the night. He used his God-given ability to share God’s Word and encouraged the homeless each chance he had.
After four years of running the ministry, he took four days off. During this time of reflection, he felt God was telling him to resign. He proceeded to follow through with that directive and resigned from his first shelter ministry, effective May 31, 1986.
At that time, the former shelter operator almost became homeless again. Weeks seemed to pass by so quick, but there was no sign of work where he could share the love of God as he desired to, like possibly in a church.
By that time, Jeremy was pretty much determined to do whatever the Lord wanted him to – except run a shelter again. ”Never tell the Lord never!” Jeremy later stated.
Jeremy might not have chosen the calling of running a homeless shelter for himself, but it soon became quite clear that it was what God wanted him to do.
In the summer of 1986, Joy Junction was founded with no seed money. It started with one building, and over the years, more land was acquired to complete the current campus of 52 acres.
Jeremy had many dreams for the Joy Junction campus. He wanted the 100+ homeless people who slept on the floor, on blue mattresses, to be able to sleep on a bed. He wanted them to have the privacy of a room fit for families, couples, single women, or single men.
Many updates have occurred during the 34 years of operation. The old chapel flooded and was eventually torn down and removed. A housing complex was built in its place, which allows people more privacy within their individual apartment-type rooms. Barracks were remodeled, one for single females and one for single males, to provide beds for overnight guests. The small guard shack was replaced with a larger building that includes a few rooms with beds for emergency use. The original school house was demolished, as well.
We are currently able to house up to 350 individuals a night.
From small beginnings, Joy Junction now serves hundreds of thousands of meals within the shelter, as well as from the Lifeline of Hope mobile food and hygiene truck that travels around the city.
For 34 years, we have been open 24 hours every day. We also offer a life recovery program to help break the cycle of homelessness, one life at a time.
We are so very thankful for the compassion our donors show each time a gift is sent in to help us continue to minister to the hungry and homeless of our city. It fills our hearts with gratitude to know that Jeremy’s dream is continuing to be fulfilled.
Many lives will be touched and given opportunities for renewal as they work to turn their circumstances around during their stay with us.
Thousands of people have been positively impacted by Joy Junction, and we will continue the life-saving work of ministering to homeless and hungry men, women, children, and families for as long as God keeps our doors open.
We are so very thankful you are part of the reason Joy Junction has developed into the largest emergency homeless shelter in the state.