Homeless people are well aware of the mistakes they have made in their lives. The last thing they need is for condemnation to be heaped on them. With that in mind, our message at Joy Junction is one of hope and change.
Unequivocally, Jesus changes lives at Joy Junction. Last year, David (not his real) name was incarcerated in a county jail in New Mexico for trespassing, residential burglary, and larceny. He really wanted out of the sort of lifestyle that had landed him in jail.
David said, “I was headed nowhere fast and had no purpose in life.”
David said when he was released, he had to walk for a while as he headed to Albuquerque because he was unable to get a ride. While walking, David said he slept at a combination of locations, most notably on a couch at the Sky City casino.
He finally made it to Albuquerque and eventually ended up at Joy Junction. David said he’s finally somewhere he enjoys being at.
Talking about our Christ in Power Life Recovery program David said, “The program has helped me see life in a different way. It has shown me that there is a chance for me to have a purpose in life. It has given me my faith and hope back.”
David said he is now very grateful for his life and even more appreciative for his Heavenly Father. “He has given me everything and anything I needed- not (just) wanted. He has taught me many lessons just in that one year time period.”
David said while he thanks the Lord for the good that happens, he also understands the bad things as well. He added, “(That’s) … because out of every bad thing that happens to me, something good happens as well. This takes me to that saying, ‘Count your blessings; don’t air your complaints.’”
He concluded, “I am grateful for everything and everybody.”
Around this time last year, Ashley (not her real name) said her life was “so miserable.”
She said, “I was drinking and smoking marijuana and making mistakes left to right. I didn’t care much about myself. I pretty much felt that there was no chance for me. I wanted to give up.”
Ashley said she didn’t recognize her rapidly descending downward spiral until she arrived at Joy Junction. Prior to that she had been staying with a friend and family. It was a friend who suggested she contact Joy Junction to see if we could help her.
Arriving at Joy Junction, Ashley waited a while but ultimately decided to join our life recovery program. She said, “I really didn’t expect much; just to join and maybe succeed at something. I realized quickly that this program was far more than what I (anticipated). I had expected it to just be a place to stay … and volunteer work. What it did was start changing me into a better person. I know I need to care for myself, and I need to care for others. I am also closer to God.”
Ashley said knowing how close she had been to giving up, she is so grateful for Joy Junction, the recovery program, and her volunteer assignment.
She added, “I am thankful for the people who put this organization up for people like me. I appreciate every day more and more. I pray that I can continue doing as well as I am doing now, and become someone later in life. I am also thankful for my boyfriend who has supported me all the way.”
Volunteer Coordinator Jonathan Matheny has worked with both David and Ashley over the last few months.
David, he said, is one of the people who under the direction of our staff helps oversee our overnight and 30-day residents.
David, Jonathan said, “works in our program office, which is there to serve the needs of our most needy people. That office is chartered with making sure that individuals staying at Joy Junction, for the short term, have everything they need. This means being patient, compassionate and considerate.”
Jonathan said that while David was initially unyielding in his dealings with other guests, that has begun to change. He said, “As he got to know the people better, he found out that in certain cases, the rules could be formed a bit to better serve the needs of an individual. Sometimes, you need to be more compassionate than definitive. He is still learning the finer points of that line, and when it can be blurred, but he is getting there.”
Jonathan said it has been a joy watching David mature. “As he grew into this position, I watched him grow more into a servant, and less into a master. He has gone from needing to control his whole environment to being more versatile and less rigid.”
Ashley’s program assignment, Jonathan said, is helping him ensure the volunteer database is up to date.
He said, “You only need to show her something once, and she will repeat it, flawlessly. It makes her very good at data entry, and her meticulous nature helps to keep things organized in the office.”
Jonathan concluded, “I am very curious to see their continued growth. They are both starting on the correct footing, building from a rebuilt core based on faith.”
|Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “Homeless in the City.”
Additional details on “Homeless in the City” are available at http://www.homelessinthecity.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at firstname.lastname@example.org.