By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
When veteran Joy Junction employee Harold Eansor passed into the arms of Jesus recently, it was his friend-and a fellow shelter employee-Linus Carver-who had helped him navigate as comfortably as possible his final days on earth.
They became friends soon after Linus was hired at Joy Junction.
Linus sad, “I suppose we both have that “crochety old man’ personality, that and the ability to not take ourselves too seriously. Harold was the kind of guy who would help anyone out if he could.”
Linus said Harold was generous and dependable. “He was always giving me rides to the store when I needed to go. When I was looking for something like an electronic pest control device, he would help find the best deal online and order it for me. He would do this for just about anyone who asked him. I suppose you could call it one of his many areas of expertise.”
Joy Junction will miss Harold. Harold had been around for so long that, if an employee from any department was unsure of policy or procedure, all they had to do was ask Harold. 98 percent of the time he could set them straight. He had the ability to think of the big picture. He knew what the spirit and goals of Joy Junction were all about.
Bottom line, Linus said, “We help people. We give back to the community. We give hope. We give the Word. That’s what Harold was all about… With a sense of humor!”
But the man who helped people had a far from easy life. In fact, it could be described as horrendous. I interviewed him some time ago, and just as his story touched me then I hope it will warm your heart now.
A self-described typical youngster, Linus Carver had it pretty easy growing up in a “big house” right across the street from Albuquerque’s Roosevelt Park.
He said his father was a scientist, and after his parents divorced when he was five his mother went to law school and passed the bar exam in 1974.
With the exception of first and second grades, Linus attended private schools and said he received an “excellent” education.
At high school, Linus said he played sports and music, as well as “experimenting” with what he called “various trendy chemical amusements.”
Reflecting on his earlier years, Linus said he had a “liberal attitude toward drug use and irresponsibility.”
That notwithstanding, Linus said he had a job and owned his house. He said as dilapidated as it was, it was still “home.”
Then overnight, an early morning pounding on the door back in July 1999 changed his life in such a dramatic way that Linus dubbed it “akin to falling off a cliff.”
Linus said, “I couldn’t find my glasses, but when I answered the door I could make out the yellow words on blue windbreakers. They said ‘Victims Assistance Unit.’”
Linus learned his mother JoAnne, then 61, had been attacked by a man who had been stealing while doing odd jobs for her. Media reports said he lived in a shed behind her home. Linus said JoAnne had discovered some of her items stashed in his belongings and hidden in her back yard.
When the man discovered Linus’ mother going through his belongings, Linus said he was so upset he smashed her across the face with a whiskey bottle he’d been drinking from.
When lying on the ground, Linus said his mother called for help. After that, “He got on top of her and started smashing her head in with a sledgehammer.”
A July 15 1999 Albuquerque Journal report by Jeff Jones said that Rex Wilburn Osborne, then 41, allegedly admitted to hitting JoAnne Carver in the head with a whiskey bottle, choking her into unconsciousness and taking her minivan, according to a criminal complaint filed against him in Bernalillo County Metro Court. The Journal reported the complaint also said police found a bloody sledgehammer at the crime scene.
Linus said Osborne then torched JoAnne’s house, and stole her van.
Linus said the fire attracted attention and the arrival of the fire department.
“They discovered my mother barely clinging to life,” Linus said. “She was rushed to the hospital where somehow by the Grace of God, the doctors managed to save her life. She was comatose, but she was alive.”
Linus said his life quickly turned into a whirlwind, where time lost meaning. His sisters moved back to Albuquerque. Linus said he doesn’t know how he or his brother would have coped without their support. The attacker was caught and put in jail.
The same Albuquerque Journal article reported that Osborne later allegedly told investigators that he had been drinking heavily and smoking crack cocaine the day of the incident. He was sentenced in Dec. 2000 to 32 years in prison.
Linus said the weeks flew by. His mom remained in a coma and while she eventually woke up, Linus said the family knew she would never fully recover, and was moved to a nursing home. She didn’t like it there very much, so Linus’ sister, who had moved in with him, would pick her up and bring her to his house to visit for the day.
He said, “Those times were good, and we all cherished them very much.”
However, the trauma was also taking its effect on Linus. He said, “I really descended on the slippery slope of massive drug abuse.”
Linus continued, “Somewhere along the way I just stopped going to work and when my mother’s health took a turn for the worse until she died, I turned even more to the escape the drugs offered. My sister eventually moved out and I retreated further into depression, rarely going out.”
Funds from his mother’s estate and the sale of his house enabled Linus to further feed his addiction. However, he said, after some years of doing that the money ran out.
Linus said there was one good result from his lack of money. “I had to drastically cut back on my chemical intake.”
Linus said he drifted for a few years. “I was living in an abandoned shell of a house on some property owned by a family member. I made it through one of Albuquerque’s coldest winters there, with no heat, electricity or running water. I was a recluse, (but) I was still getting high.”
Eventually his sister sold her property and Linus had to leave. He moved into a friend’s spare room for free.
Linus said, “I was making a little money by selling plasma, so I would buy food and other stuff like toilet paper. My life was comfortable but going nowhere.”
Linus said while he was surrounded by drugs he declined more than he accepted , because he wanted to stay away from his former “heavy physical addiction.” After a while his friend moved, and Linus said he couldn’t go with him. Once again, he had no place to go.
While thinking what to do next, Linus ran into his sister unexpectedly at a grocery store and told her about his situation. She agreed to let him stay in her garage as long as he paid her some rent and stopped using drugs.
“I said that was very reasonable and moved in that day. I haven’t used drugs since,” Linus said.
While this new arrangement gave Linus a roof over his ahead, something was still missing. He said, “I was still drifting in a sea of mild apathy. I halfheartedly looked for work but mostly I just stared at the television. I often wondered if there would be any purpose in life for me, something that would give it a little meaning.”
Linus said, “Life drifted by me with little or no accomplishment.”
After a while his sister had to move to a much smaller place. Linus couldn’t go with her. Once again things were up in the air. It was now 2008.
“Looking back,” Linus said, “I think God had a plan for me. I had often prayed that I would find something that would help me out of my depression and make me feel like a useful person. Little did I know that such a place existed nearby.”
That place was Joy Junction Homeless Shelter – a phone call away. Linus said he found the phone book and called us.
He added, “I got my name on the single male list, and was told at what time and where to be for a pick up.”
This was a new experience for Linus. He said, “When I got on the little yellow school bus I was somewhat nervous, but all the other passengers were friendly and I soon relaxed a little. When I arrived, they were having Bible study. I stood in the back of the (main building), and someone offered me an orange and told me a little bit about how being an overnighter worked. It sounded like a difficult but manageable life.”
Linus recalled his first Joy Junction experience. “The next morning, after a mostly sleepless night due to the ‘snoring bear’ on the mat next to me, I helped move linens down to the laundry and set up the tables for breakfast.”
After some oatmeal, Linus began talking to another shelter guest who told him about CIPP (Christ in Power), our life recovery program. He decided to apply to join the program. A few days later Linus was accepted as a CIPP participant.
Linus said, “It turned out God was listening to me and gave me what I had been yearning for, a life.”
Linus completed the program and graduated. He was hired as a kitchen staff member, where he stayed for some years until moving on to become a driver for our transportation department. He has also performed a number of other tasks, and is currently our graveyard resident services supervisor.
Years ago, Harold described Linus like this, “Working for Joy Junction is a rewarding experience, but it can have its stressful moments. It’s good to have friends at the shelter to talk and joke with to decompress. Linus is the type to bring a little sunshine into a gloomy room. I am happy to include him on my short list of friends.”
A former staff member added, “ … Linus has a heart of gold, truly caring about all around him … He is one of the most compassionate and loving men I have ever met, and his dedication to his work is above and beyond all expectations.”
Back in 1999, friends of Joanne Carver told media that she liked helping the “downtrodden.” It looks like Linus is keeping that legacy alive.