By a Joy Junction Staff Member (JBF)
Most people have heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” meaning everyone makes a difference in the well-being and teaching of that child. Well, we want to take that a step further, and say “it takes a city of caring, compassionate people to provide for the homeless.”
We are so thankful for all the many people over the years who have taken the time to personally invest themselves in our mission.
As we celebrate our 35th anniversary, we look back at all God has accomplished through our ministry, and we know all those compassionate people who took the time to support our efforts are a huge part of the reason why Joy Junction has developed into New Mexico’s largest homeless shelter for families. Their partnership with us has been and still is a vital part of the process.
Caring people have not only given financially to help provide for the needs on our campus and for our Lifeline of Hope mobile food/hygiene trucks, they have given of their time, talents, skills, and gifts. We’ve had numerous volunteers over the years, and they have connected with our guests in ways that encouraged and lifted their spirits.
That is an invaluable part of our daily intention: to show each person how much they are loved, and to give them hope for moving forward in their lives, by engaging in their circle of interests. For example, we have had volunteers, like Christian Legal Aid and Healthcare for the Homeless, come in to lead classes or provide valuable information. We have also had adults and youth on campus to join with our children in games or craft activities. Many groups have come in over the years to entertain our guests, as well.
There have been many times when someone has entered the shelter and provided comfort by sharing their story of overcoming obstacles, or ministered to the folks with their musical talents, or tutored the children with their scholastic knowledge. They have left a positive mark on the lives of each person who was included in that moment.
Because of those precious volunteers, many lives have been touched and given opportunities for renewal as they work to turn their circumstances around. Restarting a new way of thinking is a major part of the journey. Our Christ in Power Program, which focuses on life recovery, was created to give them clear direction, and provide a purpose for their future. The program teaches them how to stop allowing unwise decisions/behaviors to direct their choices.
Being restored to a life full of possibilities was Jeremy’s dream for each person who steps onto our campus. It may be a longer process than originally planned by the person going through the situation, but with hard work, a new start really is a reality.
Jeremy’s desire was to have a shelter that allowed families to stay together. He felt very strongly that keeping families as one unit allowed them to grow together, and strengthen the family bond. That bond would be key to the confidence each person would obtain, which would help them move forward.
As well, he knew the need for nutrition was vital to their survival. He made sure the business policy stated that a guest would receive food to eat when they arrived, even when the meal hour was not at hand.
Jeremy also wanted to provide safe and secure nights of shelter with security personnel, so residents would feel protected. As time would allow, a security team from staff and program volunteers was developed. They monitor those who enter and leave the property, and cameras are used to oversee the grounds.
Joy Junction began its journey in a small dormitory building on the property of an old school. Later, as the need grew, a larger structure was acquired and named the Multi-Purpose building. It served as the dining room and was used for all activities. Mats took the place of beds at night, and then were cleaned and removed each morning to make room for the serving of daily meals. A kitchen, offices, and bathrooms were added next. Two barracks were moved on property, as well, to house single men and single women, separately. Years later, an old motel with 19 units was donated and moved onto the property.
A chapel and gym were also on the land. Over time, both dilapidated buildings were removed. A two- story housing unit has been constructed for families and couples. Most rooms in this unit have two single-sized beds, but some offer an adjoining door between two rooms for larger family needs, which includes four beds. Each room has a bathroom attached, complete with a shower, toilet, and sink.
The two barracks were also renovated. Each one is still individually purposed for specific genders. One houses single women, and one houses single men. There is a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink in each barrack for guests to share. Also, a new guard house was built and placed at the entrance of the property.
The new structures allow us to provide a more comfortable environment for those who come to us for shelter. We could not have done all the renovations, or continued the ministry of caring for the homeless and hungry of our city, without the help of all the many people who have invested in our mission.
We praise God for the 35 years of caring for the homeless and hungry of our city, and look forward to seeing how He will provide for them through our ministry in the future.
We send sincere thanks out to all who have been a part of Joy Junction’s ministry!