N.M.'s Largest Faith-Based Homeless Shelter Seeks Support Amid Difficult Times

The largest and only homeless shelter of its kind in New Mexico will celebrate its 22nd anniversary this week with the help of popular Christian songstress Jaci Velasquez.

But more than a celebration, Joy Junction Homeless Shelter's 22nd Anniversary Banquet will serve as a rally for support amid increasing demand and decreasing supplies.

Dr. Jeremy Reynalds, founder and CEO of Joy Junction, says the success of its anniversary banquet on Friday and community help are essential for the ongoing and expanded success of its life-changing endeavor.

"We have seen tremendous growth in our residents, especially those coming out of various addictions to drugs and alcohol," Reynalds expressed in a public announcement. "With a successful banquet and ongoing community prayers and financial help, we can continue to help change the cycle of homelessness and give people the tools they need to become reintegrated into mainstream community life."

Since 1986, Joy Junction has been serving homeless women and entire families, providing shelter, meals, clothing as well as spiritual teaching and training from the Bible.

Reynalds said that the shelter, with the Lord's help, assists its residents in developing the godly character that will serve to turn their lives around.

Although Joy Junction receives no federal, state or city funding, its shelter is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days each week through the generosity of community-minded individuals. Last year alone, the faith-based ministry was able to help over thousands of women, men and children to get back on their feet and into a home of their own.

"Joy Junction residents arrive at the shelter emotionally broken and with no place to go; they have exhausted their resources and lost their source of income," Joy Junction staff explain. "The ministry helps to meet their deepest needs by providing counseling and spiritual guidance, and enables them to overcome their circumstances and begin following a new direction for their lives.

"Joy Junction believes that God has a plan for the homeless people who stream through the doors of the shelter, and that He values them as individuals," they add.

With a deeply troubled economy and the privately funded shelter being asked to care for an ever-increasing number of homeless women and families, Joy Junction staff say the upcoming event is one of the most important of the year for Joy Junction.

Shelter officials say the 22-year-old ministry has been feeding and sheltering about 300 people nightly, or almost 10,000 meals a month and 9,000-plus nights of shelter. A few years ago, Joy Junction fed and cared for around 150 people a night. All the extra meals have put a serious strain on the shelter's food supplies.

"I walked through the kitchen with [the manager], and the shelves are getting empty," Joy Junction Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Munsey reported.

Supporters and prospective supporters near and far are being encouraged to take part in Friday's celebration at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Albuquerque, N.M., by sponsoring a table at the banquet or obtaining individual tickets.

"We look forward to hundreds of people coming to our celebration and joining in the wonderful work that is going on at Joy Junction," Reynalds stated.

Jaci Velasquez, who is headlining Friday's event, is scheduled to perform after making an appearance with husband Nic Gonzales of Christian music group Salvador at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention in Grapevine Texas.

After the event in Albuquerque, Velasquez plans to head off to Calistoga, Calif., to perform Saturday at the Rock of Ages Festival, one of the largest Christian music festivals in Northern California.

Velasquez, who turns 29 this month, has sold over 3.5 million albums, garnered three RIAA certified Platinum recordings, three RIAA certified Gold recordings, sixteen No. 1 radio hits, and has graced more than 50 magazine covers.

She is currently touring the United States with her husband's band, Salvador.

On the Web: Tickets ($50 per person, or $500 per table) may be bought on line by going to www.joyjunction.org/banquet, or calling Joy Junction's Corporate Office at 505-217-9586.