By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
As a rule, I’m guessing probably not too often.
However, that would all change if they went on strike, right?
In Johannesburg earlier this year, authorities in South Africa’s biggest city asked residents to be on the alert for rats, which were thriving because of a four-week strike by garbage collectors pressing for a salary increase.
Then less than a year ago, trash piled up on Paris streets when garbage collectors went on strike.
Janitors also got some unusual notice outside the office in February of this year. They picketed for higher wages, clogging rush hour traffic into downtown Minneapolis.
These support personnel felt underpaid as well as unappreciated, and thought it was time to show their contribution in a more tangible fashion. Their importance was soon evident.
Individuals functioning behind the scenes at Joy Junction can be both paid staff and volunteers. And while you don’t often see them, their roles are essential to our smooth operation.
Like every other nonprofit organization, Joy Junction has staff – 48 at last count – and much appreciated community volunteers. We are so grateful for them – whether their work be on the front lines or behind the scenes.
But this time I wanted to focus on our program volunteers, those individuals who make a nine month commitment to our Christ in Power (CIPP) life recovery program and perform 30 hours of volunteer service as part of their ongoing efforts toward recovery.
The assignments, ranging from assisting in the laundry room to the kitchen, help build self esteem, instil confidence and also show potential employers that at the end of the program, somebody whom they may well consider hiring has tenaciously stuck at an assignment for a number of months.
That commitment is important. Research has shown that as well as looking for basic academic and critical thinking skills, potential employers are looking for committed individuals whose personal qualities include responsibility, honesty, integrity and punctuality.
Successful completion of our life recovery program includes mastery of all of these skills.
With that in mind, we asked some of our CIPP volunteers who daily walk the often challenging road to recovery what they think about their mostly behind the scenes role at Joy Junction.
One woman who volunteers in the laundry said it doesn’t bother her to be “behind the scenes.” She said it is hard work, but her concern is getting the job done.
She added, “The Lord knows and see all. He is my guide. This is where the Lord wants me to be, and I must do His will. It makes me happy to know that I am helping others in this way. Having something to do helps me to be responsible. Helping Joy Junction has allowed me to be productive again.”
A woman who volunteers in our in kind donation truck said her duties allow her a great way to give back.
She added, “My volunteer duty allows me to have time to read my Bible, do my homework for the CIPP class and spend time with the Lord. I know that we may be ‘behind the scenes,’ but God sees everything and serving Him is what matters the most. I’m grateful for this place, and all that God has given me through Joy Junction.”
A program volunteer who assists other guests by keeping track of supplies, handing out supplies and a variety of other tasks said she “loves” being behind the scenes.
She added, “I know that what I do helps things run smoothly by making sure the residents have what they need to feel comfortable and welcomed. It does affect my future growth in the sense that by doing the duties I have learned through volunteering, I will be able to take care of myself and my family in the future and help others who cross my path.”
A woman doing similar volunteer duties said it shouldn’t matter if you’re on the front lines or behind the scenes, “because when you volunteer, you are giving.”
She added, “I enjoy being able to lend a helping hand. It has given me a positive attitude and a sense of peace. I am very happy that I am able to give back to Joy Junction because they have given so much to my husband and I. We are very blessed and thankful.”
A kitchen volunteer who said she doesn’t mind people being unaware of the extent of what she does said, “I love my volunteer duty more than anything I’ve done since college. Thank you, Joy Junction, for everything. ”
This program volunteer, whose duty is volunteer security, didn’t deal with how he felt about being behind the scenes, but said that responsibility for the safety and security of other at Joy Junction has taught me him greater accountability.
He added, “The rules at Joy Junction benefit rehabilitation and safety for the residents here. Learning from our mistakes is a key ingredient to things running smoothly. (Doing) security gives me a sense of duty. It helps me with my self esteem. It shows me that I can do something for not just others, but also myself. I love what I do here.’
One man also volunteering for security said being on a set schedule and having responsibility has been the most beneficial aspect of the program for him.
He added, “While being productive, I believe that this may even present opportunities for my future as it pertains to Joy Junction and for the safety and comfort of all our guests here. This volunteer duty has allowed me to build my self esteem, and help me to better relate to my superiors and build trust. I am proud of what I’ve become here, and I believe this experience will go with me as I move on.”
So would you please say a prayer for these individuals who volunteer so tirelessly behind the scenes? You’ll probably never see them on TV, but just like they have for many years during this 30th year of Joy Junction’s operation, we couldn’t manage without them.
And remember. Whatever your function in life, it matters. People are depending on you.