By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
It was just a simple and routine post on our Joy Junction Facebook page and a few other social media as well.
The words read, “Our guests enjoyed posole with beef, chile and a tortilla topped off with ice cream (not together!). Was your lunch as good? #jjmeals #hungryinalbuquerque
I really didn’t think much about what I’d written after I sent the update from my Blackberry. For about a year or so, we’ve been posting pictures of a couple of the three meals we serve daily at Joy Junction.
Friends and fans seemed to like the pictures, and I felt that letting supporters know regularly what sort of meals we serve to the hungry and homeless makes them feel more a part of our ministry.
However, Thursday July 17 turned out to be a bit different. It wasn’t long after sending the post up to Facebook that I received a shocking response.
Lisa wrote, “You might want to stop posting pictures of the food at your homeless shelter. It can get a little old seeing homeless people eating better than the rest of us.”
After reading this, my heart rate went up a little. I became momentarily upset with the post writer, but then the emotion changed to sadness. After all, what sort of person would write something like this? And as a number of our Facebook fans pointed out later on, if she didn’t appreciate what we were writing, then why didn’t she just quit liking us?
It seemed like a case of “food envy.” That’s what KOB TV’s Caleb James titled his piece (http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3507281.shtml?cat=500) on the incident, which aired the same evening.
Once my heart rate returned to its normal level I toyed briefly with not responding, but after breathing a quick prayer came up with these words.
“Okay, your input needed. After seeing this meal pic, a Facebook friend wrote that ‘It gets a little old seeing homeless people eating better than the rest of us.’ You might want to quit these pics. What do you say? Albuquerqueans and businesses make this possible!”
The words seemed just right. After all, Joy Junction’s Facebook and other social media pages are for our friends, fans and followers. They’re not for me, so why not ask them what they thought?
It didn’t take long for the comments to start pouring in. They were overwhelmingly in favor of us continuing to post the pictures.
Here are a few of the comments. Not mincing words, Kenneth wrote, “You need to shut the ** up, and stop being so stupid. I can’t even believe you would post something as idiotic as you did. What’s wrong with you?”
That provoked a swift come back from Lisa, who wrote “Kenneth, last I checked this is America and we have freedom of speech. And I am just saying what others are thinking. I am all for helping people in need, but it gets a bid old seeing these meals constantly. And if you don’t like it, tough!”
Kenneth responded quickly, writing “You’re so full of crap Lisa … only YOU have that crappy attitude, so don’t go around thinking you speak for the majority because you don’t. And if YOU don’t like it, even a bigger tough on you … ”
Manny wrote that the woman sounded like she has some sort of a complex. He continued, “What are we supposed to feed the homeless and needy; cold baloney sandwiches with mayonnaise and a half dried up apple? Anyone who thinks that way needs to check their heart and their mind too. Shameful, very shameful.”
Lisa got back in the action a little while letter, writing caustically “Meanwhile in other news there (are) Ukraine, Syria and Israel crises.”
Both Cyndi, another Facebook friend, and I agreed with Lisa. At the time of writing, there are indeed numerous ongoing tragedies and crises. However, Cyndy hit the nail on the head when she said, “but when you’re homeless and hungry, ‘other news’ doesn’t matter.”
So true. You can’t really focus on global issues until your own needs are adequately met.
Gina said she couldn’t believe that somebody actually wrote those words. “Do they not know this is maybe their only meal that day or week, or their last meal, so why not make it great and appealing. Why shouldn’t homeless be given something decent …?
Gina said what we post helps make people more aware of the plight faced by the homeless, and how they can get involved.
She continued, “Most of us do have the means to eat decent meals if we didn’t spend it on cell phones, cable, Internet and other things we don’t need. Sending prayers for our homeless, and for the people who don’t understand.”
Marvin seemed to sum it up, saying that he felt sorry for those who believe homeless people have it better than most of us.
People who think that way, Marvin said, have “no compassion, no empathy, no heart, no ability to understand the degradation of homelessness, and no reasoning to be willing to accept that (they) are 1000 times better off than a person without a place to call home.”
He had a challenge for them, “Please find it in your heart to try and understand that people deserve to feel human. Go to Joy Junction and give some time, so that you might begin to be able to feel your heart beat.”
Marvin, I couldn’t agree more. And yes, we plan to keep on posting meal pictures!