[ May 03, 2023 ] Anxiety, anger, depression, holding grudges, addiction, cutting, and familial dysfunction were all "chains" that The Joy House residents and staff testified to God breaking for them as they shared during the 2023 Joy House Annual Banquet held on Tuesday evening, April 25th at SharpTop Cove. The atmosphere could not have been better for showcasing the beauty of Pickens County and the significant impact of its homegrown non-profit, The Joy House, whose mission is to provide Christ-centered restorative care to teens, families, and individuals from all over northwest Georgia through their Teen Residential Program and Community Counseling Center. Approximately 450 guests attended the "Breaking Chains" themed event, some long-time supporters and others discovering the ministry for the first time.
Executive Director, Steve Lowe, shared that April was a historic month for the ministry, as they opened their beautiful newly built third residential home. The banquet showcased a tour video of the new girl's home, and Lowe shared that the ministry plans to hold an open house in the future for community members to explore the home for themselves.
Counselor Bill Wattenbarger and the Counseling Center staff shared some practical counseling strategies with attendees reminding them that The Joy House is there if needed for all ages. Statistics from 2022 showed that most Counseling Center clients reside in Pickens County, though many come from neighboring counties such as Cherokee and Gilmer.
Lowe interviewed Board Member Tina Mabry, who shared about coordinating activities for the Teen Residential Program that provides an outlet for the residents. Activities included hiking, swimming, pickleball, and baking. Mabry stated it is "a huge blessing to get to know the girls and to form the relationships that [she has] with them." She encouraged supporters to utilize their unique talents and gifts to make a difference in the ministry and speak truth into the lives of the residents. Currently, the ministry needs school tutors, people to share crafts and hobbies with the residents, and groups to come on-site for campus upkeep. Mabry describes her experience serving the ministry as "a joy to come alongside [the residents.]"
Lastly, Lowe interviewed two current Joy House residents, Emily and Abby, alongside Abby's father, Hal. Emily and Abby have been in the program since the spring of 2022. Emily shared that the loss of her parents at the age of nine, self-harm, anger, depression, and anxiety led to her "plummeting" into needing the services of The Joy House. Over the past year, Emily has testified to getting into the right relationship with God, being baptized, making excellent grades, getting a job, and now being on track to graduate high school early from The Joy House Academy. She stated, "I'm a new person," and tearfully said, "I can finally say I'm able to make my parents proud, and that's the best thing." Abby described how The Joy House has taught her "how to deal with situations the proper way." Her father, Hal, is very proud of Abby's accomplishments in the program and is "looking forward to her coming home" as Abby is close to finishing the program.
Currently, the Joy House Teen Residential Program has a list of girls, boys, and families waiting to enter the program as the girls' homes are full, and they have just recently re-opened the boy's home. With opening the third home and serving more teens comes increased operational costs, so the ministry seeks more partners to join them on their mission. The Joy House does not reject anyone based on financial considerations, with all of their multi-faceted ministries being offered at the ability-to-pay rate of their clients, meaning most of their funding comes from the community's generosity. The Annual Banquet raised over $95,000 in gifts and pledges. You, too, can invest in this ministry online at thejoyhouse.org or by texting "GIVE" to 770.692.3722. Lowe believes wholeheartedly that the ministry supporters' "return on investment is changed lives."
For more information about The Joy House, visit thejoyhouse.org, call 706-253-7569, or email email@example.com.