By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS-November 2, 2016) — Serving on the front lines of Joy Junction homeless shelter, they are often appreciated, but sometimes cussed at and threatened. However, they keep on working because they care for the homeless and hungry, and love Jesus.
They are our resident services supervisors at Joy Junction.
Here’s a look at a recent 48 hours at Joy Junction.
Saturday 2 pm to 10 pm.
The 2 pm through 10 pm shift is always the busiest at Joy Junction, and I suspect at any mission.
There are routine new intakes to process. That procedure includes doing a criminal background check to ensure there are no charges of violence, and that the individual seeking shelter is not a sex offender.
Then there are the not so routine moments. Here is what one supervisor wrote in her shift report.
“(This resident) yelled at me continuously and was very rude when I asked her to take her laundry off (bicycles belonging to some of the guests), where she had hung it to dry. I told her we could not hang clothes there, and she started to yell, telling me I did not own the bicycles, I was a liar, and she was not going to do what I said. I walked away to the office while she continued to yell in front of all the residents.”
The situation was finally resolved, and the guest removed her laundry.
Following that, it was back to more mundane (but still important) duties, checking to make sure that our computer records of those staying on property lined up with those who were actually there.
While many guests check out when they leave Joy Junction, some don’t, making ongoing physical “head counts” very important. We don’t want to be holding space for someone who is no longer staying at Joy Junction. That denies a much needed bed to others in desperate need of shelter.
The routine was interrupted for a 911 medical emergency call for one of our guests. Rescue came a few minutes later and took the guest to an area hospital.
After a non eventful supper, it was time to set up the multi purpose building for the regular Saturday night church service with myself and Elma my wife.
Church appeared to go well, with the supervisor writing in her report that it was “very well received and appreciated.”
Saturday 10 pm to Sunday 6 am.
It was now time to turn over responsibilities to the next supervisor.
The shift was quiet.
The supervisor said, “There were plenty of vacant mats this evening, and I was able to place all intakes throughout the night effortlessly.”
He added, “Rounds were done. Everything is clean and in good running condition.”
He added, “The high point of tonight’s shift was having the peace and quiet to connect to the Source, which reminds me why I am here, and allows me to connect with all other beings remembering that I am one with all.”
The low point? “The time went by very slowly, which happens when the evening is devoid of any incidents.”
Sunday 6 am to 2 pm.
For the oncoming supervisor it was a quiet Sunday morning, followed by an always popular pizza for lunch. Guests spent the afternoon watching videos, reading or hanging out with each other.
A former Christ in Power (life recovery) program participant came to finish packing her belongings. She said she had been approved for a housing voucher, but it may take a couple of weeks to get into a place.
As the afternoon continued, it was time for this supervisor to check in a single female and a family of three. Family members said they were looking forward to joining a shelter program, and had already met with our case manager.
Next it was time to update all the intakes on the computer, and turn the reigns over to the next resident supervisor for the 2pm through 10pm shift.
This supervisor said that the high point of her job is when the kids come into the supervisor’s office with their parents asking for coloring paper or soups.
“The children are what can bring joy to a room for the littlest things. They are why we are here.”
And the low point? She said it’s delivering disciplinary action to overnight guests who have violated policy. Especially, she said, if someone has to be told they are banned from property for an indefinite length of time.
Sunday 2 pm to 10 pm.
The next supervisor was briefed by the previous one when she came on duty.
After that, she did a regular check of the bathrooms. They passed her inspection.
Next there was a request for shelter through the Albuquerque Police Department’s Victims Advocacy Unit. Our supervisor was told the name of the alleged abuser, and he was placed on the unwelcome list.
While we are not a shelter for victims of domestic violence, we are happy to provide whatever help we can when the regular domestic violence agencies have no room to accommodate a person in need.
Next it was time to check that there were enough blankets available from our in house laundry for our overnight guests. Blankets are washed daily, so as you can imagine, the laundry is always a busy place. In addition, new or gently used blankets are always a much appreciated donation.
Close to the last item of business for this supervisor before going off duty was to take a call from University Hospital to pick up a single female in need of shelter. A van driver was dispatched to pick up the individual.
However, just before the end of the shift this supervisor had to deal with an argumentative single female who was fraternizing with a single male, and reportedly bragging about being an undercover cop.
When asked about this, she said she was not an undercover officer, argued a bit more but finally stopped and went to bed.
This supervisor said the highlight of her work day is feeling she has helped people by sharing Christ’s love through Joy Junction.
She also tells them about available resources available at Joy Junction such as our case manager and chaplain.
She added, “I am humbled in seeing through the eyes of the homeless. Each day I learn more and more of the hopelessness some have shared with me. I also see the growth of the many who have come through our doors, attended our programs, or who have just been able to get the help they needed, even if temporary. Bringing a smile, a grateful and thankful response from our residents makes it all worth while.”
And the not so encouraging times?
Feeling rushed, or “bogged down” with paperwork.
“I feel I may be missing something important, or that I may have not given the residents some of the time they may have needed from me. These are moments when I have to take a breath, regroup my thoughts, and re-process.”
Time for the graveyard shift supervisor to take over. This shift can be very slow and routine, just making sure that everything stays calm, or it can be very busy. This night it was a little of both.
Sunday 10 pm to Monday 6 am.
After a routine check for bathroom cleanliness, the supervisor was called by the guard shack (at the entrance to Joy Junction for the safety and security of our guests), saying an individual had approached the area saying he felt the onset of a PTSD attack. Emergency services were called, and the individual was taken to the hospital.
Other than that, “Filing got done and the floor in back office was swept and mopped. Rounds were done. Everything is clean, orderly and shipshape.”
Monday 6 am to 2 pm.
The next supervisor briefed with the outgoing staff member.
First issue to take care of was a couple who was arguing. It couldn’t be resolved, and they walked off site. This occurred before breakfast, which was served without any incidents.
An individual called asking if his brother was on property. She said he was on the missing persons’ registry. He had stayed at Joy Junction the night before, but was not currently on property.
Routine business followed. It included talking to a delivery driver wanting to drop off oxygen for a former resident, and talking to an Albuquerque Public Schools outreach worker wanting to enroll someone for high school.
After a peaceful lunch, it was necessary to call 911 for a resident who was feeling ill. He was transported by ambulance to an area hospital.
The supervisor talked about the highlights of her job.
She said, “When I walk into the multi and see our residents, and even though they are homeless and have been through such hardships in their lives, they will still give me a smile and a hello. They are the reason why I love working here; that is my high.”
This individual talked about the most difficult parts of her job. She said, “The low part of being a supervisor has to be making tough decisions that may lead to one of our residents getting arrested, or having to call the State (of New Mexico regarding child safety). Although it is hard, I know that is what needs to be done for the safety of our residents.”
So after reading this, what do you think? Was this how you pictured things? Either way, I encourage you to pray for all of our staff with a special prayer for those directly serving our guests.
While the job is never dull, and often rewarding, it can be emotionally and spiritually demanding as well.
Photo captions: 1) A busy 48 hours at Joy Junction. 2) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds, who was born in Bournemouth, UK, 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, 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. One of his more recent books is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on the book are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. His latest book is “Two Hearts One Vision.” It is available at www.twoheartsonevisionthebook.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information, please contact Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com .
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