During this time of year, we are often reminded of those who are less fortunate than us—those without a place to rest their head or a warm meal to share with friends. If you have been putting off donating to the homeless, now is the perfect time to get involved, because: Read the rest of this entry »
News Release from
Jeremy Reynalds, Joy Junction
Tel: (505) 400 7145
On Wednesday Nov. 27, from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m., along with KNKT 107.1, SMG, the Albuquerque Convention Center and the City of Albuquerque, Joy Junction will treat about 1500 homeless guests to a delicious Holiday Feast at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
The shelter’s 28th annual traditional Thanksgiving dinner will take place at Joy Junction’s 4500 Second Street Southwest facility at 2.00 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 28.
Reynalds said, “We’re hoping for a terrific time and thank the community for a wonderful outpouring of support, despite the difficult economy.”
Reynalds said that Joy Junction invites anyone, lonely or hungry, to come and eat at the shelter for any of its traditional Thanksgiving dinners.
Media wishing to film dinner preparations on Thanksgiving Day may do so from 5 a.m. Stations may “go live” from the Joy Junction kitchen if producers wish. Please call Jeremy Reynalds at (505) 400-7145 a day in advance if at all possible.
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
It’s almost “Thanksgiving” again at Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, and the only one for homeless families.
It’s hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving Day will mark the 28th successive year we have shared the blessing of Thanksgiving with Albuquerque’s many homeless and abused women and homeless families.
I’m so thankful to the Lord and our wonderful family of donors for helping make this ministry of compassion possible on an ongoing basis.
Thanks to YOU, during 2013 we have been able to serve many thousands of hot and nutritious meals to hungry people, minister to many spiritually needy men, women, boys and girls in our chapel services and life recovery classes and provide thousands of nights of shelter to homeless people.
At Joy Junction on Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season as we provide special meals and activities for our homeless guests, we will be giving thanks to the Lord for all of His blessings. We are a faith-based ministry. We believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important component for homeless people in getting back on their feet again.
But not everyone sees things the same way as we do. For many people, “Thanksgiving” is not a time to give thanks to God. Take, for example, these Thanksgiving “offerings” I found some years ago from America on Line, billed as “All the Essentials for a Stress-Free Holiday.”
Encouraged to “sit back and relax,” AOL surfers learned that they could find “advice on roasting a perfect bird, crafts for the kids, ideas for giving back, hints for handling holiday stress, tips for avoiding the travel crush and much more.”
However, if you didn’t go any further than the stress section, you’d have missed a lot. There were a couple of forums on this AOL Thanksgiving special, one titled “Thanksgiving’s Best and Worst,” and another giving surfers the opportunity to say what they were most thankful for.
I was curious to see what people loved and hated about Thanksgiving, so I went over first to Thanksgiving’s best and worst. I got an inside look at what was on the minds of some Americans that year.
Here are some examples of what I read. One forum participant wrote, “Thanksgiving is easily the most boring day of the year.”
Someone else commented, “Every year, my house (which is always neat and tidy) gets ‘trashed,’ even after I’ve told my in laws and their kids repeatedly to respect me and our house. My husband sits by and doesn’t say a word. I can’t turn them away, because they come from out of state and my husband thinks they do no wrong. I’m ready to move to Alaska where I know they’d never visit.”
The saddest post of all was from someone who wrote, “This is my first Thanksgiving without my husband of 25 years. He left me and our five kids (earlier this year) and served me with dissolution papers (soon after).”
However, what a testimony that this woman was still grateful for the blessings that she had. She continued to write “Through this horrible experience, I pray my Thanksgiving is filled with the gratitude and offerings to God that it should be. I am thankful for the gifts I have received, but pray that God’s will is to return my husband to me and our children. I would appreciate any prayers, silent or aloud at your Thanksgiving table for the healing of my family and all other families enduring pain and heart ache.”
Examples of people writing about what they were most thankful for included an inspiring post from someone who doesn’t mind getting older. She wrote, “I used to dread growing older, but now I actually feel as if I can embrace it. When I was younger it was always a case of watching after the kids, stressing over everything always being ‘perfect’, trying to prove myself to everyone but now I have grown to be thankful I had those times … I (also) have many things to look forward to.”
However, the letter that really touched my heart was a daughter’s tribute to her dad. She wrote:
“My father passed away this year. He was a quiet gentleman. I learned much by his words but far more by his actions. He served his country during WWII. He did not speak much about his experiences. Instead he flew our country’s flag proudly, reverently. His eyes welled up with tears when he stood for our national anthem. He stood even to the day he needed my mother on one side and myself on the other. He placed flags on the grave sites of each of my brothers, who also served our country. My father is a genuine patriot; his legacy lives on through all that knew him. I love you daddy, and I’m thankful and proud to be your daughter.”
Some forum participants also remembered the essence of Thanksgiving. Someone wrote, “I am thankful for the Lord for giving me good health and all my children home and in good health and His mercy.” Another person commented, “I am most thankful for allowing Christ to be my guide. I am also thankful for my mental and physical health. I give God all the praise.”
After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about, isn’t it? In case you are not familiar how the day came into existence, here’s a quick synopsis.
It was way back in 1789 that President George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. This was the first ever presidential proclamation issued in the United States and read, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…”
However even back then, not everyone was in favor of this National Day of Thanksgiving. It took 74 years and President Lincoln to set things straight. In his 1863 proclamation, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
After describing America’s blessing, Lincoln wrote, “No human counsel has devised nor has any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Lincoln also encouraged his fellow citizens that while praising the Almighty for his blessings they also needed to exercise “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience … and to fervently implore the (intervention) of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”
Since that time, Thanksgiving has been proclaimed by every President. So as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day, take a moment and thank the Lord for the many blessings which we enjoy.
Joy Junction: Despite reported decreased in homeless population, more work to be done
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, is raising concerns with the latest report on homelessness issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
On Thursday, HUD released its national estimate of homelessness, reporting that the homeless population in New Mexico fell by 18 percent since 2010, to 2,819 persons in 2013.
“We know from first-hand experience that the number of homeless in Albuquerque continues to grow, and the need for meals and other services are on the rise,” said Dr. Jeremy Reynalds, Joy Junction CEO. “2,819 is a distressingly low estimate, which only serves to undermine the plight of the homeless in New Mexico. When you consider the impact these numbers can have on our community’s concern, awareness and investment in solving homelessness, it’s vital that we discuss these kinds of reports.”
Joy Junction provides safe and warm shelter to as many as 300 homeless individuals every night, and each month they serve more than 16,000 meals. Reynalds estimates that in 2012, Joy Junction provided about 50,000 more meals to homeless individuals than in 2011.
According to Joy Junction, women, children and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. In May 2011, Albuquerque Public Schools reported 6,000 homeless students were enrolled in the district.
Reynalds says the varying numbers on homelessness are often a result of different measurement methods and definitions of homelessness. Additionally, homeless families staying in substandard motels or doubled-up with family or friends in unstable living conditions are rarely counted.
Joy Junction will continue to provide much-needed services to the homeless population in New Mexico. With upcoming winter weather, Joy Junction is especially in need of gifts of blankets, sleeping bags, socks and personal items. Individuals and companies interested in volunteering at Joy Junction can contact the volunteer line at 505-463-4818.
“No matter how you calculate the numbers, the fact remains: there is still much more work to be done.” Reynalds said.
About Joy Junction
Joy Junction has been helping the homeless of Albuquerque for 27 years. In 1986, Jeremy Reynalds founded Joy Junction, now New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Joy Junction currently serves as many as 300 people every night at their main homeless shelter — and hundreds more through their mobile food outreach. Monthly, Joy Junction serves more than 16,000 meals to those in need.
By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
A few years ago, there was a fire in a local and abandoned motel. “Vagrants” were speculated to be the cause.
At least, that was according to a local official in Albuquerque, New Mexico, speaking back then on a local newscast at the time of the fire.
Some time after, along with another Joy Junction staff member and colleagues from a variety of other agencies, I spent the afternoon doing outreach to some of the economically challenged and just plain desperate areas of our city.
One of the locations we visited was an old abandoned motel where several people were living in rather squalid circumstances. They would probably be referred to as “vagrants” by some.
But over the years, I’ve began to have problem with that word. It’s very negative and impersonal, and when we depersonalize people we usually do so in an attempt to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for that person.
I wanted an “official” definition and went to the Encyclopedia Britannica online. Here is part of what I found (www.britannica.com/eb/article-9074623/vagrancy).
A vagrant is “someone who has no established home and drifts from place to place without visible or lawful means of support. Traditionally a vagrant was thought to be one who was able to work for his maintenance but preferred instead to live idly, often as a beggar. The punishment for this ranged from branding and whipping to conscription into the military services and transportation to penal colonies…
“In the United States and northern Europe, vagrancy must generally be accompanied by the act of begging before it becomes punishable. Usually local authorities merely encourage the vagrant to move on, relieving themselves of the financial burden of maintaining the offender.”
As I thought more about vagrancy, I realized that a vagrant is a real human being just like you and me. A vagrant has a mother and father who at least at one time loved that person. That vagrant has a name like John, Mike, Anne or Susan.
“Vagrants” were created by Jesus Christ; having a body, soul and spirit and despite how they look or smell are those for whom Jesus Christ died. Even Jesus Himself could have been so named in His day. Had you ever thought that Jesus is in the vagrant transformation business?
A “vagrant” has emotions, hurts, hopes, fears just like you and me. And just like you and me they want to be loved. It’s harder to dismiss someone when we describe them in terms like this, isn’t it?
But to return to the “vagrants” of yesteryear, and even the individuals who are now living in the hotel we visited that day.
What do you think was going through their mind as they spent the night there? Were they perhaps thinking about parents and children whom they hadn’t seen for years, and other failed relationships, a series of dead end jobs, a lack of education, shattered hopes and dreams that led them to make a series of bad choices that may have included alcohol and drug abuse? Or were they just merely thinking how cold it was and what they could do to keep warm?
Perhaps it was all these circumstances which resulted in them breaking into those abandoned motels, both then and now?
Am I justifying that behavior, some of you may ask? Not at all, but I wonder whether some of you may have made similar choices if you had been faced with misfortunes experienced by those whom we write off as “vagrants.”
Rather than dismissing people who don’t fit into our cosy cultured perspective and consequently encouraging them to move on (and let’s admit it, that’s so much easier to do than to deal with the problem), isn’t it time that we addressed, with the Lord’s help, the issues that led to those behaviors and provided help offered in a spirit of compassion?
I would hate to think what may have happened to me if people years ago had written me off as a “vagrant.”
In Feb. 1982, I arrived homeless and almost penniless in Santa Fe. I was miserable and felt like a complete failure. If the Great American Dream was still possible, it was a reality which back then I was far from experiencing.
I had no friends on whom I could call for help, but the next day after spending the few dollars I had on a motel I did make my way to a local church. There I was warmly greeted and given the opportunity to tell my story to a church member who offered me a place to stay in the government-assisted housing where he and his family were living.
A few days later I was offered a place to stay in the basement office of a local businessman who put me to work painting some of his apartments. Of course, after witnessing my attempts at painting I think he wondered about his judgment, but he was gracious enough to keep me around until I found steady work at a local hotel.
But here’s the moral of the story. These individuals, back then, could have quite easily written me off as a vagrant or beggar who should be sent on his way. It would have been much easier to do that. But instead they assumed responsibility for me, prayed for my situation and freely gave the tools to help me get back on my feet again.
Joy Junction’s recent 27th anniversary is a direct result of the Lord’s faithfulness but also their efforts, because without the kindness of these people I have no idea where I would be today.
So try it. If you are part of a church family and “vagrants,” also known as homeless persons or families come to you, try and help them. That may mean a smile and a meal, or referring them to Joy Junction or a shelter in your area.
Remember that your doing so will be in direct response to Deuteronomy 15:11 which says, “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’”
You never know what results it might produce.
by Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
One of the many messages reads, “Keep using my name in vain and I’ll make rush hour longer.” Another says, “We need to talk.” Then there’s the one that says, “As my apprentice you’re never fired.” One I posted on Facebook recently reads, “Life is short. Eternity isn’t.”
The messages are part of a campaign by a non profit called GodSpeaks, and they’ve been around for about 15 years.
The group’s website reads, “The vision was to create a spiritual climate and help people consider a relationship with a loving and relevant God. Brief messages, ‘signed’ by God, were posted on a handful of billboards in South Florida – meaningful messages intended to inspire the reader to think about God in a different way. This was the start of the first GodSpeaks campaign.”
Now the campaign is using many other resources in addition to billboards. The website says, “Besides billboards, every possible type of media is being utilized, including posting digital messages in real time in response to what is happening in the world, at this moment. With Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and digital billboards, the reach will be almost unfathomable.”
After posting the message “Life is short. Eternity isn’t,” on Joy Junction’s Facebook page, we got a number of likes (67 at last count), and only one negative message.
It read, “I would feel like contributing more to Joy Junction if you did not have this kind of message for those you help.”
Well, what would you like us to say? Our basic message is that if you are depressed, messed up and feel that your life isn’t all you thought it would be, there’s hope. Turn things over to Jesus and He will make all things new-not just now, but for eternity.
After seeing our Facebook “fan’s” comment, I wondered what some of our guests thought of the billboard message. After all, they’re the ones the generosity of our donors are allowing us to help, right?
Here’s how some of them responded.
One person wrote, “I feel that God is trying to remind people that there is life beyond the current life, which is short. Eternal life with God is our true goal.”
Someone else commented, “People I think many times there is the time later to address their walk in God. However, one never knows when their life will end. Don’t put off today your giving (of) your life to the Lord. You may not have tomorrow.”
Someone else said the billboard statement “makes you think about the consequences of your choices now, and how they will affect the future.”
Another person said this billboard and others like it gave hope during dark moments.
“Seems God has been removed from so much of society and people tend to forget the power of God’s love. This board is a great tool for networking, keeping the spirit alive and moving through the land and people.”
Someone else said the message means the only guarantee in life is death. “What we do from the time we are born till the time of our death is a choice that we are given by God’s grace and mercy, and how we live our lives is up to us.”
Another person said the words on the billboard are “very true.” That individual continued, “People need to think more about God and get right with Him. Read the Bible, put yourself in God’s hands; trust in God.”
Someone else said the message is an encouragement to “do the best you can in a positive and Christian way with this short life. This life is short, so when you go, leave a Jesus filled wake behind you (with) footprints that reflected a positive, God fearing life!”
Another comment struck me as being particularly poignant. That person said, “To me it means that the path of life is full of tests and trials that will push and pull you closer to God. Yes it’s short, but it’s long enough to enjoy everyday and seek and find God, and to learn to love God and others as he would … Then … we are (ultimately) blessed to rejoin our families and loved ones in the kingdom of heaven.”
Another statement seemed to encapsulate what was being said. “I believe this billboard to be so true because you can be here today and gone tomorrow, but if you believe in our Lord and Savior, the end will only be your beginning.
While it is often the first step to recovery, Joy Junction believes it’s not enough just to give our guests food, shelter and other necessities. In many instances (but by no means all), they have become homeless by dulling their pain filled lives with an inappropriate consumption of alcohol and prescription medication, as well as use of illegal drugs. That’s then turned into an addiction, and their life has spiraled out of control, resulting in homelessness.
Self medication dulls the painful reality of everyday reality, but doesn’t give the tools to successfully cope with living. Take away the alcohol and drugs and you’re back to facing unmanageable pain. Introduce people to a loving God who has a purpose for their lives, and you place them on the first rung of the ladder to success. Hence our message.
For more information about GodSpeaks visit http://godspeaks.com/about/