What Do Priests, Reporters and the Homeless Have in Common?

By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

black dots COLLAGE - What do you seeThe story of the small black dot has made its rounds on the Internet numerous times.

As it’s told in one of these incarnations, during a presentation, a speaker took an unmarked sheet of white paper and made a small black dot at the center with a marking pen. Then she held the paper up before the group and asked them what they saw.

When asked, respondents said all they saw was a black dot. The speaker told them that while she was sure they had all seen the paper, they had chosen to overlook it.

The moral of the story was, “In life, we also tend to overlook and take for granted many wonderful things that we have or happen around us and focus our attention and energy on small dot like failures and disappointments. The so called ‘problems’ that we have are usually like the black dot on the paper. They are small and insignificant if we can widen our horizon and look at the whole picture.”

It’s the same even if you have a number of dots covering a small portion of paper.

Reading that started me thinking about to how we react- to name but a few- Catholic priests, the media and the homeless.

If asked about what first comes to mind when the words Catholic priest are mentioned, I suspect the term “sexual abuse” would come to mind.

People questioned concerning what they feel about members of the media the media might well answer, “You can’t trust them and they’re biased.”

And let’s not forget the homeless. They suffer from such descriptions and broad brush strokes as “lazy, drug addicted and alcoholic.”

The problems with all of these descriptions is they just deal with the high profile “problem cases” concerning priests, journalists and the homeless. It’s no secret that stories dealing with these issues sell newspapers, draw high TV ratings and get much coveted Internet clicks.

Stories about good priests (of which there are countless worldwide), responsible journalists (some of whom risk their lives for us to know the truth) and homeless people who are grateful for a second chance (and struggle every day to maintain their hard fought for sobriety) don’t sell newspapers, draw viewers or generate those online clicks. But they need to be told nonetheless.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d tell you about a few of our guests at Joy Junction who are not only grateful for shelter and working hard to reenter our community, but also really appreciate the thousands of meals which community generosity allows us to serve each month.

One of our staff asked a few of our guests what they best liked about Joy Junction, as well as their favorite meal at the shelter.

One couple said they loved the holidays at Joy Junction, especially Christmas. They added, “All the smiles that are on the children’s faces when they receive all of their presents. It is always a blessing to see.”

And their favorite meal, they said, is pancakes. “They are fluffy, big and moist and with a side of country potatoes that are brown and crisp.”

A woman said her best experience was having a roof over her head, and meeting at Joy Junction two of the best friends ever.

Quite poignantly she said her favorite food was having three regular meals a day provided for her. “I love them all,” she said.

Another person commented, “My greatest experience was making new friends; being able to have fun with my kids. I like joking around with the staff. Some of them are really funny. I also like being able to take a shower everyday. I like food in general, so having three meals provided here is awesome.”

One woman said her best experience at Joy Junction was a few months ago soon after she first arrived with her son.

“I was so scared (but) pretty soon I was making friends and learning the routines of the vans. I even joined the program and got more confidence in myself. Joy Junction has been so kind to me and my family.”

And food? “I can’t pick one favorite meal because I really like all of them.”

That was echoed by another woman who said everyone was very welcoming when she first arrived at Joy Junction. “ (They) made me feel safe and comfortable.”

One woman was grateful for a volunteer coming in to play music at the weekend.

She said, “Everyone was smiling, laughing and dancing. It was so nice to see.”

She added, “My favorite meal is when we have baked chicken and we can have seconds!”

Perhaps one of the most poignant statements of appreciation was this one. “My greatest experience here at Joy Junction is being able to have a space to call my own, and lay my head because of all of my medical conditions.”

So when you see the black dot, please don’t forget the white sheet of paper. And remember; your support of Joy Junction makes stories like this possible. On behalf of our hundreds of guests, thank you.