Just One Additional Service for the Homeless

By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

Jeremy Reynalds gives a meal card to a hungry man in Downtown Albuquerque.

Jeremy Reynalds gives a meal card to a hungry man in Downtown Albuquerque.

Sometimes it’s time to take quick break from both raising the funds and planning the long term vision at Joy Junction (something that’s always on my mind) and think about an additional service that our guests might like (probably an issue that while maybe small is top of their minds).

With that in mind, I had one of our staff ask some of our guests this question.

It was, “Based upon what you know about Joy Junction and the issues being experienced here, can you think of one additional service not being offered that we could possibly provide?”

Can you think of additional services we could provide for those who use our services? Here are some of the best answers from our guests.

One woman had what seems like such a small idea, but one that’s eminently doable. She wrote that she’d like us to have a greeter to let people know about the services we do offer. We’re looking into that.

A couple of women wanted us to provide bus passes. While we do run a lot of vans Downtown from our South Valley facility, there is apparently still the need for access to more transportation.

We’ll look into that. Transportation doesn’t become an issue until you’re five miles south of Downtown Albuquerque in the South Valley, and can’t get to where you need to go. A number of other agencies do offer bus passes, but if at all possible, another one wouldn’t hurt.

Employment is obviously on the mind of a number of our guests, especially as they approach the end of our nine month faith based life recovery program.

One woman wrote that she would like to see us offer more jobs for successful program graduates. She said, “I think the graduates should be offered jobs after six months in the program instead of having to wait until the eighth month.”

There’s a reason for the long wait. Most of our guests didn’t arrive in their current situation overnight, and while our Christ in Power life recovery program used to be six months, we extended it to nine months a few years ago.

That decision was arrived at after hearing from a number of mission CEO’s across the country about the length of their programs. It was our belief that the additional time is needed for a sustained recovery.

While we always plan to be here, we want to make sure our life recovery program graduates are equipped with all the necessary tools they need to successfully navigate our always changing and difficult culture.

One guy had an interesting idea. It boiled down to a class field trip. He wrote, “We could go on a mission once a month, the whole class. We could do some research about housing and income and medical.”

That’s probably something we won’t do- at least the field trip portion. Logistically, it’s just too difficult. However, we bring guests in whenever possible to address issues of concern to our guests, and our staff are always there to point people in the right direction.

Here’s an idea I liked. One man said that for our overnight guests (those who aren’t embers of our Christ in Power life recovery program) who are having a struggle getting back on their feet, that we should consider giving them a clip board to write down their priorities. That, he said, would help them build a foundation to get back on track again.

Might be a bit difficult to manage, but something we’ll definitely think about offering for those who show an interest.

Some of you know that for a number of years we have had a mobile feeding truck we call the Lifeline of Hope. It operates seven days a week traveling from Southeast to Southwest Albuquerque, as well as making stops in the Downtown area.

Through the Lifeline we’re providing over 6,000 meals a month, as well as beverages and (when we have them) personal hygiene items, blankets, sleeping bags and reading materials for some of the youngsters who have come to rely on it.

This vehicle was donated by a longtime friend and supporter of Joy Junction, Vic Jury, president of Summit Electric. Over the years, it’s logged many miles and we realized the need for an additional Lifeline. That dream came to fruition recently when a gift from a generous donor allowed us to purchase an additional Lifeline, which we hope to have on the road very soon.

It will alternate with our existing unit, resulting in a longer life for both vehicles. Unfortunately at this time, we can’t (yet) afford to run both at the same time.

However, I was touched to see a suggestion from one of our guests, who while in obvious need himself wrote that we should have “both Lifelines running at the same time a day. That way we can feed more people.”

Your prayers for that would be appreciated.

This same man also expressed a wish that we could expand our sleeping facilities, so we wouldn’t ever have to turn anyone away. That’s something we would also like to see happen.

Other ideas mentioned included a desire that we should have “a job center, like a computer lab, to help with finding jobs and a resource center to help with (items such as) state I.D., birth certificate and social security” and an emergency fund to help people in our life recovery program “who are trying to get their lives together.”

I don’t know about the emergency fund, but the job center sounds like a great idea and something we’ll keep in mind.

Did any of the ideas expressed by our guests surprise you? Do let me know. As always, your prayers and support for Joy Junction, now almost 29 years old, are so appreciated.