Homeless but Still Thankful for So Much

By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

happythanksgiving2014It’s a day-and season-of thanks, but had you ever wondered what the homeless are thankful for? We asked some of our guests at Joy Junction. Their answers, both simple and profound, may surprise you.

Brandi said she is happy being able to wake up “clean from addictions.” Several other guests echoed that appreciation for sobriety. The time sober for those to whom we talked ranged from 14 months to five years.

Another shelter guest expressed an appreciation for Joy Junction’s provision of housing, food and clothing.

Robin said he is happy to be a good husband for his wife, adding that he is thankful for Joy Junction and our Christ in Power life recovery program, as it has gotten him deeper into the Bible.

Rogell’s expression of thanks was profound. He said he appreciates life, having lost family members in the last few years.

That made me start thinking. All of us sometimes tend to take life for granted, but it can change in a split second, can’t it? A fatal car accident, a devastating diagnosis, or even a loss of our job quickly makes us reassess life’s priorities.

Theeta said that among other things, she’s thankful for her family, including “my best friend, my husband.”

Don said he is thankful for God’s forgiveness, Joy Junction and “Denis and Chappy for helping us to understand the meaning of God’s Word.”

So who are Denis and Chappy? Denis Billy is our resident services manager at Joy Junction. In addition to overseeing everything related to our many guests at Joy Junction, he is also the senior teacher for our nine month faith based life recovery program, called CIPP – or Christ in Power Program.

Chappy (or Happy Chappy) is the affectionate nickname for Joy Junction Chaplain Gene Shiplet. Chappy has worked for Joy Junction for a number of years and is loved by everyone. When staff or guests are having a difficult day, they often go straight for Chappy to get a smile and an encouraging word. We are so blessed to have him working with us.

Another of our guests commented, “Chappy is a saint. He makes me grateful everyday with his positivity and encouragement.” That’s what we all say.

Joy Junction staff are also thankful

While it is not easy being homeless, sometimes it’s very challenging being a member of Joy Junction’s resident service staff, the department that works most directly with our guests.

However, they’re all grateful for the opportunities that working in their position gives them to help bring about changed lives.

Sophie, Crystal and Cheryl said they all appreciate being able to share freely with our guests the message of hope offered by Jesus Christ.

Why is that so important? It has been my experience after working with New Mexico’s homeless for over 30 years, that people often fall into drug abuse and an inappropriate use of alcohol in an attempt to escape the emotional pain and despair that characterize their lives.

While regularly working with medical and mental health professionals, Joy Junction offers a relationship with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone on which to build a fully recovered life. We believe that to do otherwise would be immoral.

Sophie said she also thanks God for her coworkers and family, and that because of having Jesus in her life, “I have become a better person to myself and to my children.”

Denis said he is so happy he has found salvation in Jesus Christ and he is thankful for his wife and his job at Joy Junction where, he said, he gets the opportunity to put to good use his education and all of his past job experiences.

Marcos is thankful for God’s unconditional love. He said, “In all the wrong things I’ve done in my life like drugs and alcohol, God was patient. He had his hand over my life, kept me from jail and showed me mercy. He kept my marriage together when I wanted to give up. “

Marilyn said she is grateful to work for an organization that helps the homeless.

She added, “God gives us blessings in many different ways so that we can learn, reach out, and enrich others’ lives, as well as our own.”

Well said, Marilyn.

And to all of our friends and supporters, thank you for allowing us to be there reaching out for New Mexico’s homeless for 29 Thanksgivings. Here’s to the next 29.