By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

Pay it Forward with $5You’ve almost certainly heard of the phrase to pay it forward.

It’s typically taking a person’s kindness to you and “paying it forward” to someone else.

Thinking it would be good for our Joy Junction managers to try something “outside the box,” we gave them a $5.00 bill, and told them to pay it forward to a person of their choice. The results, including reasons for the gift, had to be communicated to me in writing in about 48 hours.

Sometimes, when like our staff who work around the homeless all the time, it’s helpful to broaden your horizons. That was the objective of this exercise. Take a little bit of the love and compassion shared inside Joy Junction, and spread it to a few different people around town.

Here are the heartwarming results. I hope they bless you as much as they did me.

Joy Junction Kitchen Manager Linus Carver looked for people needing to ride the city bus, where two dollars will buy a one all day pass.

Wanting people who didn’t have passes, but were nonetheless headed to the bus stop, Linus bought two of them passes.

One person told Linus that the dollar he had left over after providing two bus passes would get her to a Walmart so she could finally cash a small check.

He said, “All three people were thrilled. It was nice to see smiles on everybody’s faces.”

Linus has made “”paying it forward” quite a habit in his life. He said he is an avid reader, and always looking for new material.

He buys books at the Joy Junction thrift store, other used book stores, online from Amazon and has “even paid full retail at Walmart or Walgreens for new paperbacks.”

“After I am done reading them, I will put them in the multi so that anyone can take them and enjoy,” Linus said. “Many of our residents enjoy reading and the availability of free books can enhance their quality of life.”

He added, “Just the other day, I put a stack of books in the multi (about a month’s worth of reading for me) that cost me around thirty dollars. I hope the enjoyment it brings to others is priceless.”

Joy Junction Parking Lot Manager Brenda Martinez paid it forward soon after leaving the managers’ meeting.

While in line at the store, she was thinking about her assignment.

She heard a guy say, “‘$1 on pump 4.’” I interrupted him and said, “‘Here’s $5 more for gas.’ He asked, “‘Are you sure?’” I replied, “‘Yes.’”

Breda said, “Coming out the store, he came running towards my truck to thank me and ask how he could repay me. I told him that maybe one day he can return the favor to someone else in need.”

Just prior to voting, Joy Junction Chief Operations Officer Jennifer Munsey saw a panhandler on Central and Juan Tabo. She asked if she could talk a picture of him and his sign. He said she could for a donation. payitforward2

His sign stated that he would “‘rather beg for money than steal to survive,’” and posed for a pic! I handled him $5.00 and he thanked me and smiled.”

Joy Junction Transportation Manager Diana Peterson-Lane had her own unique story. One assignment was to take some people to an area motel, something necessary when potential guests have animals. Local regulations do not allow us to accommodate those with pets.

Diana quickly learned their story. She said this young couple was experiencing a plight with which she was all too familiar: trusting the wrong person. They told Diana they had known a woman for a few months, and when she asked them to travel with her to California for a few days to experience her daughters’s wedding, they thought, “why not?”

Things didn’t work out and they ended up stranded with no clothes or phone, a four month old puppy and $13.00 to their name. The woman was also four months pregnant. They both wanted o get back home to Louisiana.

We couldn’t pay for that, but we could help them with a room for the night and just a bit more as well.

Diana said, “I began to feel a pull throughout my entire body screaming ‘This is your pay it forward.’”

She added, “I told them names and numbers to call about trying to get home, and gave them the $5.00 and told them that they could use it where they decided they needed it most. I said a prayer for them, and will everyday for a long while.”

Joy Junction Front Office Manager John Weisberger was wondering how he could make the best use of his $5.00.

Something came to mind that would allow him to help several people.

He said, “It was something that I and many others take for granted on a daily basis, but is in much demand by those in need out on the streets.”

John stopped by Wal-Mart on the way home, and purchased a pack of bottled water and a bag of ice. He got a small cooler from home, and added the ice and water and then placed it in the passenger seat of his car so he would have easy access to it as he drove around.

“I then drove around my area of town and when I saw someone outside in the heat at an intersection, bus stop, or elsewhere I offered them a bottle of ice cold water. The temperatures have been in the high 90’s the past few days, so people were a bit surprised but grateful for the cold water.”

John said relief from the “blazing heat of the New Mexico summer can be hard to come by.”

Thinking abut the experience, John said, “The cold water was eagerly accepted and appreciated . I found that even little things can help.”

Joy Juntion Resident Services Manager Denis Billy said he and his wife regularly enjoy paying it forward. For them it’s usually with a cup of coffee or a free meal. This time they had an extra $5.00 to indulge their passion.

While picking up a few things at the grocery store, they encountered a single mother with two small children. They approached her in line and handed $25 dollars to be used for her groceries. They added $20, which is the amount they usually give.

Denis said, “She was very shy and didn’t know how to respond. But, she accepted our gift. We didn’t spend too much time with her, because we could tell that she was a bit uncomfortable.”

However, Denis and his wife did get a thank you and a hug.

Joy Junction Thrift Store Manager Joanna Baca encountered a young woman with a small child at the grocery store. Joanna said she seemed to be in need of “something,” so Joanna asked her if she could help in any way.”

Joanna said she immediately responded that she was asking God to help her as she didn’t have anything to eat.

“She was very surprised that I asked if she needed something. I asked her what she needed and she said some cup of soups, milk and a box of cereal. She said that would be better than McDonalds or some other fast food. She said that the other food would last a couple of days. She was so grateful.”

She added, “I then realized how blessed my family and I really are and how awesome God is. I’m really grateful for this experience.”

I think the experiment was a success for all concerned. What would you say?