Mayor Richard Berry calls initial decision a “misunderstanding”
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (ANS – September 1, 2017) — In what is being described as a “misunderstanding, “Albuquerque Mayor, Richard Berry, on Thursday (August 31, 2017) said that the Albuquerque Convention Center will be made available to Joy Junction free of charge for its annual pre-Thanksgiving Day dinner.
According to Rick Nathanson, Albuquerque Journal (https://www.abqjournal.com/) Staff Writer, the reversal comes one day after Joy Junction homeless shelter chief executive officer Jeremy Reynalds said he was informed that the city would not waive the $ 6,000 cost of the center space for the dinner, which attracts 1, 200 or more homeless and hungry people. The city has donated the space for about the past 15 years.
Doug Peterson of Peterson Properties, which owns the Downtown property where Joy Junction has its corporate offices, committed to pay the Convention Center rental fee, Reynalds said.
However, Berry told the Journal that he was out of town on business when the decision not to fund the event was made earlier in the week. Staffers in his office and the Office of Economic Development, he said, were merely following guidelines he previously set down to “not impose undue economic encumbrances on the new mayor,” who will take office on Dec. 1.
“Staff was simply doing what I had instructed,” Berry said. “I wasn’t available when the decision was made, but, looking back, this could have been handled with a five-minute phone call. “
Which is what occurred Thursday said Nathanson. “Not only will the city waive the rental fee for the space, but SMG, the contractor that operates the Convention Center, will waive the $1, 500 fee for the cost of cooking the donated turkeys, and supplying the plates, plastic utensils, coffee and soft drinks, Berry said.”
Reynalds, who operates the state’s largest homeless shelter and has been for many years an ASSIST News Service Senior Correspondent, said he was “delighted” to learn of the administration’s reversal “and very appreciative that this apparent miscommunication by his staff could be overcome.”
Reynalds had suggested that the city withdrew its support for the event because he has publicly criticized some of the mayor’s policies — particularly on issues that affect the poor and homeless.
But despite being crosswise with the mayor from time to time, Berry said there was no ill will toward Reynalds or Joy Junction. “We still love what they do and still support what they do.”
Joy Junction is three decades old.
In an article carried on the Joy Junction website (http://www.joyjunction.org/), Jeremy Reynalds has written up the amazing story of how he came to start New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter .after becoming homeless himself.
“It is hard to believe the shelter I founded is 31 this year, and that I’ve spent almost half my life at what has obviously now become a lifetime calling,” he began.
“Looking back, it seems just like a short time ago that I came up the driveway of our 52-acre property wanting to reach out to homeless families with food, shelter and the love of Jesus Christ.
“We’re currently sheltering as many as 300 people nightly, and providing more than 16,000 meals each month from a fully licensed kitchen.”
Reynalds, who was born in Bournemouth, England, says he emigrated to the U.S. in 1978 with $50.00 in his pocket and a one-way ticket.
“I ended up homeless in mid-1981 and early 1982, and in that same year ‘landed’ in Santa Fe, New Mexico,” he says. “It was there where God brought some amazing people into my life, who encouraged me and helped me begin my first ministry. My calling to work with the homeless began to emerge.
In 1986, I left Santa Fe, took a few months off and moved to Albuquerque. There I ended up starting Joy Junction, never envisioning the scope of what it would become.
The vision I had was for a refuge where the entire family unit could stay together at one of the most difficult times in their lives. I wanted to ensure that husbands and wives had the support of each other, and could provide more support for each other and their kids than they might otherwise be able to if split up.”
Reynalds had no idea what adventures, struggles and trials would lie ahead. The full story is told in my book “From Destitute to Ph.D.,” but here are some of the highlights.
“The shelter grew quickly in the following four years, but quite often, unmanaged and fast growth can be the downfall of an organization of any kind, whether a ministry or not. Our bills were exceeding our income and we nearly folded. Due to God’s grace we stayed afloat,” he explained.
“During those first years, I also worked a part time job to put food on my own family’s table, taught a regular Bible study at the shelter and tried to get the word about what we were trying to do.
“In 1991, I felt it was time I went back to school. I tried a couple of summer classes at the University of New Mexico, and earned a bachelor’s degree with a focus on journalism in 1996 and a master’s degree in communication in 1998.
“Along the way I also enjoyed a number of internships at various media in Albuquerque, as well as hosting a couple of radio shows.
“Looking back, I can see how all these media experiences helped me better promote Joy Junction and the plight of the homeless. I have a deep appreciation for our local media. It is sad that reporters are routinely vilified and criticized but rarely praised.
“In 1999, I was accepted to do a Ph.D. intercultural education at Biola University in La Mirada, California (close to Los Angeles). I graduated in 2006, and my doctoral dissertation dealt with the way the media portray America’s homeless culture.
How we first met
“In (about) 1999, I also met a fellow Brit by the name of Dan Wooding, the founder of a very unique news service dealing with the plight of persecuted Christians as well as aspects of popular culture. I have written for the ASSIST News Service ever since then, and have traveled to a number of countries reporting for them. (They have included Bethlehem in the West Bank, and Israel, where he first met his wife, Elma).
“In my post Ph.D. years, the shelter continued to grow in budget and services offered. In 2009, due to the generosity of a local businessman, we added a mobile feeding unit we dubbed the Lifeline of Hope. It operates seven days a week, 365 days a year, providing food, water and toiletries to people who can afford either a meal or a place to stay — but not both
“In late 2006, I went through a divorce and was single for a number of years. In March 2015, I got married to my wife Elma. She is the love of my life, and shares the same passion as me for helping feed the hungry and house the homeless. Elma has quickly become an integral part of Joy Junction and is loved by guests and staff alike.
“The future for Joy Junction has been looking bright, with numerous renovations in in the last couple of years occurring at our aging property. For the comfort of our guests we upgraded the air conditioning at our main building, replaced windows, and put in a new driveway to help make visiting our facility a much less ‘bumpy’ experience.
“In addition, in 2015 we demolished an old and unused chapel on our property to prepare the way for much needed ongoing construction in 2017.”
He concluded by saying, “With the Lord as my guide and my wife at my side, I look forward to the next three decades helping the disenfranchised, marginalized, homeless and hungry. I hope you will consider joining us.”
Contact details: Shelter – 4500 2nd St. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105. Mailing – PO Box 27693, Albuquerque, NM 87125. Shelter – 505.877.6967 | 800.924.0569. Corporate Office – 505.217.9586. Website: http://www.joyjunction.org/
Photo captions: 1) A meal being served up at Joy Junction. 2) Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. (http://www.koat.com/). 3) A homeless family. 4) Jeremy Reynalds greets a homeless man in an Albuquerque street. 5) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds. 6) Dan Wooding interviews Jeremy Reynalds some years ago at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California, for his “Front Page Radio” show.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 54 years. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of numerous books and has two US-based TV programs — and a weekly radio show. Dan’s most recent honor was a top humanitarian award at a film festival in Beverly Hills, California, for his long-standing reporting on persecuted Christians around the world. It was presented to him by his son, Peter Wooding.
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