The Face of Homelessness is Changing…

2019 August
By a Joy Junction Staff Member (JBF)

Homelessness used to be thought of as an excuse for those who just didn’t want to work.

In days of old, we might see men with their change of clothes wrapped up in a bag, and hung on the end of a stick – which was propped up on their shoulder as they walked along the roads. Or, we’d occasionally see a man of haggard stature sitting inside an open boxcar as we passed a train when we drove along the highway. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably accused them of being lazy.

Some of the men may have been headed to a new location for a new start. Maybe they were migrant workers..? Maybe they simply had no family and moved about, searching for a place to put roots down..? Maybe they preferred to be homeless, on their own with no close ties to anyone, to block any strong emotions from causing pain..? Either way, their habit of traveling from place to place, with all their belongings on their backs, somehow caused us to label them with terms like hobo, tramp, or bum.

That mental picture is no longer the only way we see those without a home.

“Homelessness is taking on a whole new look these days,” states Joy Junction’s CEO, Elma Reynalds. “Today’s homeless picture ranges anywhere from a family who has been displaced because of job loss, to a young mom who cannot afford to put food on the table for her children, to a person of senior years who has no family to turn to for help.”

“That’s why Joy Junction is here,” continues Elma.

Jeremy Reynalds (Founder) had the experience of knowing what it felt like to be homeless. He wasn’t lazy. He was a hard worker and had just fallen on hard times. He knew that there were many people out there who were in similar circumstances to what he had been in.

Jeremy knew that just because a person was homeless did not mean they were a bum. He knew there was so much more to a person besides the fact that they were without a home. He wanted to offer help to those who simply needed a place to stay while they worked toward starting over.

Being sheltered is a huge comfort. When someone has lost their home, they feel like everything they “are” has been violated…removed…taken from them. It feels unfair to be in this country of so much freedom, and not have easy access to a place to sleep at night – without the fear of being harmed, or have even more taken from you.

Joy Junction takes pride in knowing a roof over their heads can be provided, as well as a clean bed for them to rest in, while they are trying to figure out their next step. They don’t have to worry about trying to catch a train, and hide out in a boxcar until they find a safe place. They can rest assured that Joy Junction will take good care of them and their family.

Being homeless brings about another issue: hunger.

Has there ever been a circumstance when your tummy grumbles and you can’t wait to get home to raid the refrigerator? Or, even that may seem too long a wait, so you drive through a fast food restaurant for some quick nourishment? What would it feel like to know you have neither option?

When a person is homeless, hunger usually joins the frustrating emotions that run wild in their heart. An empty stomach…a pain of sorts…that causes irritability, can send a person into a frenzy. We don’t need more frustration in our world.

So, not only do we want the homeless to feel secure from the shelter over their heads, and comfortable in their bed each night, we want them to know they will have food on a regular basis. Three home-cooked meals a day, every day of the year, are prepared in our kitchen by a staff who truly cares about putting together tasty food options.

Homelessness is not the desired goal of those who have come to us. But, for one reason or another, that is the plight many have found themselves in, so we will do our best to help them move from their current situation to a more stable and secure future.

Until that time, we will continue to care for each person and family who comes to us. Our goal is to be a blessing as we work toward stopping homelessness one life at a time.