Sherrie (not her real name)

When meeting people during the holiday feasts, we come across those who, of course, never expected to find themselves homeless.

If a moment of opportunity arises, our staff tries to engage those who come for a meal in conversation, to find out their story. Some share, some would rather not.

When we can, we encourage those who have no home to consider Joy Junction for shelter and to join our life recovery Christ In Power program (CIPP), where they can begin to learn skills to eventually be able to turn their lives around.

Our program has helped those like Sherrie (not her real name) who shared:

I went to Joy Junction when I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I had come to the point in my life when I needed to start over and move away from a certain environment. I chose to leave my job and extended family, and relocated to New Mexico to try to begin again.

I was seeking a new life. However, I had no job and was alone – which was a very frightening situation.

I eventually made my way to Joy Junction. They welcomed me with open arms. Looking around, I could tell I was just one of many who needed someone to reach out and offer a helping hand and a comforting voice of encouragement.

Joy Junction gave me a warm welcome, warm meals, and a warm bed.

I joined CIPP (Christ in Power program), which provided guidance, and I began volunteering in the thrift store to complete one of the program’s assignments. Since I had received so much from Joy Junction and the staff, I wanted to give back the only way I knew how – by doing my best through my work. I can now say I am truly happy.

Debbie (not her real name)

Many come to Joy Junction as a last resort.

I had a very bad habit of procrastinating and making poor choices.

The day came when I was no longer able to pay my rent, and I was sued by the landlord.

Again, because of poor choices, I missed my court date. An eviction notice was given by the judge, and I was left without a place to live. I became homeless overnight.

The community support worker assigned to me by the court knew about Joy Junction and introduced me to the idea of staying at a shelter. Scary as that thought was, it was better than being on the streets. I called them, and they picked me up.

Joy Junction gave me a roof over my head every night, three hot meals every day, and told me I could have a shower every day. That made me feel so relieved. I’m so glad I called.

I joined CIPP (Christ In Power program) and am working toward the habit of making better, responsible decisions for my future – one day at a time.

Cassandra (not her real name)

A few years back, I heard about what Joy Junction offers when I went to their Thanksgiving meal at the shelter.

I had grown up in a household that had provided food every day and a bed every night, so I had never experienced doing without.

However, I had an inability to follow rules and a tendency to take risks. Both behaviors led to innumerable problems of various sorts. Over the years, my addiction to an array of substances led to many dark places, even prison.

After a while, I thought I had gotten myself “well” enough to move forward. I finally found a job that appeared to be leading me to a path of success, financially. But, soon after, addiction reared its ugly head once again. I spent money where I shouldn’t have, and was unable to pay my rent. I was evicted.

I decided to run away from the situation by returning home to New Mexico. As I bounced from place to place, couch surfing, I soon realized that the location wasn’t the problem – my choices were.

That’s when I heard about the Joy Junction Thanksgiving meal. I went to the shelter, and along with the meal, I was given information about the programs offered. After the meal, I left…knowing I could return if I couldn’t make it on my own.

Nine months later, I returned. I knew I needed help to break the strongholds that had kept me chained for most of my life.

I can now claim that God has allowed me to see His love shining through many people, and has helped me find my light from Him once again.

Derek (not his real name)

I was addicted to the party life…

Since high school, I had been involved with drugs and alcohol. The partying lifestyle stayed with me for 20 years. Even though I was getting high on meth, I presented the “normal” life by attending church, and acting like everyone else there.

On one particular Sunday, I realized I was sick of my life’s choices. I told God to “do what He had to do” to get me cleaned up. Amazingly enough, God did just that. On that very day, I surrendered my life to Christ (as did my wife and two kids), and I flushed the drugs down the toilet.

I made the decision to never go back to that lifestyle.

Soon after, I was able to get a steady job. But, I just didn’t feel settled in my spirit. I felt the need to help people. In the wee hours of one morning, I woke my wife up and told her that I was going to quit my job and put applications in at ministry-type places. (One of them was Joy Junction, who had helped us years before when we were homeless.) I told her I would accept the first company who called me.

My wife, amazingly, said that if I felt God was calling me to do that, she would support me.

Joy Junction called first. I was soon hired. Then, six months later, I was promoted to a different position.

I worked hard, and then, three years later, I felt God was leading me in a different direction. I asked God to make His path clear to me. The next week, I was asked to take a leadership position in the ministry.

I can honestly say that I know God answers prayers for those who listen – not with their ears, but with soft hearts.

Because of God’s direction, and all I have learned at Joy Junction, I can now share my experience with others. God uses Joy Junction to change lives!

Tina (not her real name)

I didn’t know what I was going to do…

I was paying rent for a room in a house shared with others. Unexpectedly, I lost my job. I was unable to pay my portion of the rent.

The person who owned the house knew about Joy Junction. She shared how a person could go there and live while going through a program to help them get back on their feet. But, I had no vehicle. How could they help me if I couldn’t get there? The landlord saw my concern and fear, and was kind enough to drive me to the shelter.

I was told about CIPP (the Christ In Power program) and decided to join it. The class is helping me a lot. I’m growing in my faith, and it’s restoring my relationship with the Lord.

The program lasts for nine months. We attend class daily, with an instructor who teaches the lessons.

We, my classmates and I, are given assignments, as well – such as working in the kitchen, the laundry room, or other areas of the complex, to learn how to begin and complete tasks. We are also taught life skills to help us find and keep a job.

The staff is helping us learn how to write a resume, search for a job, and how to be responsible enough to keep the job once we get one. They are really helpful!

Leslie (not her real name)

I have learned there is no wrong way to deal with grief…

My homeless story actually began when I was trying to get back on my feet. I was so happy about beginning a brand new job. I was excited for the new start. Within the first week at that job, though, I received the news that my dad had passed away. I have always been very close to my dad. It hit me hard. Things went downhill from there.

The following week, I lost my job because the management did not agree with my cheerful disposition over the phone. I thought that was what I was supposed to be doing.

I became deeply depressed, and felt lost. I was an emotional wreck. My self-esteem went down the drain. I had no desire to do anything…and fell back into the habit of creating a shell around myself – safe from feeling any emotion.

After a while, I knew I needed help, and checked myself into a hospital for therapy. While there, I met someone who knew about Joy Junction and I was encouraged to check them out. Instead, after I was released from the hospital (later), I had a panic attack and had to return.

Joy Junction was, again, brought up. It was very obvious I was extremely nervous about stepping out on my own again, because…well, look at what happened last time… So, the therapist gently assured me that Joy Junction was a safe place and told me about its history. Then, she prayed for me.

I was taken to Joy Junction, and even though I felt terrified to step out of that car, and do something new, I knew it was the right decision and the right place for me to be.

I joined HUP (the Hand Up Program) and, after a while, I began to feel positive about myself again. I realized I could contribute to a company because I was a good worker. The staff was very encouraging. My confidence began to build. Months later, I joined CIPP (the Christ In Power program), which further increased my growing positive attitude.

The programs helped me understand why I made the choices I did in relationships, and why I kept my emotions bottled up. I learned positive ways to deal with negative situations. I am now strong and can handle whatever life throws my way.

I have rediscovered my passion in life – I am a daughter of the King, and I know He is with me.