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Breaking: Homeless Shelter Cancels GACC Membership Over Berry Award

Breaking: Homeless Shelter Cancels GACC Membership Over Berry Award

Joy Junction Founder Warns Of Unmitigated Terror Because Of Crime Wave

Says City Facing Mass Exodus Of Residents

Even a homeless shelter is disgusted with the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce for giving Mayor Richard Berry an award for public safety when the city is in the midst of a massive crime epidemic.

In fact, the homeless shelter Joy Junction is so disgusted with the GACC that it announced Friday that it had canceled its membership with the organization.

And Joy Junction Founder Jeremy Reynalds warned city leaders to get a handle on the crime that has gripped the city or face a massive exodus of residents who “start to leave the once beautiful city in droves out of unmitigated terror.”

“We have been a member of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce for a number of years, and had envisioned continued membership, but this is just too much to ignore,” Reynalds said in a news release. “Effective immediately, we will be canceling our membership. I hope others will also consider canceling. This is a chamber obviously out of touch with the city and its members.”

Reynalds said that while he didn’t attend Thursday’s awards ceremony for Berry at the Albuquerque Museum, he was “shocked beyond belief” that the chamber gave Berry the award.

Joy Junction’s announcement is just the latest round of outrage against the GACC. The Albuquerque Police Officers Association called the award a “blasphemous joke.” And on Thursday, a group of city residents protested the award by calling Berry a traitor and shouting “shame, shame, shame.”

“To do nothing and stay silent would be an insult to the families who have lost loved ones through our crime infested city, and ignoring the plight of businesses whose finances have been depleted through this daily crime spree,” Reynalds said.

Reynalds added that he had always thought the purpose of the Chamber of Commerce was to help and encourage members, “not slap them in the face with a bogus award. My mind is still reeling from this.”

Reynalds continued, “The local news go from one disturbing crime story to another. From a cab driver having his throat slit to people being beaten up in their homes to homes invaded by perpetrators who crawl in through “doggy doors”, people no longer feel safe in their homes. Those working Downtown are feeling especially terrified getting to work.”

Joy Junction feels that for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, the homeless and those who make Joy Junction’s ongoing operation possible, a “feel good” award (which in this case didn’t make anyone feel anything other than angry) is not the solution to anything.

Reynalds added in his release that “answers [to the city’s crime epidemic] need to come quickly, before Albuquerqueans start to leave the once beautiful city in droves out of unmitigated terror.”

The outrage and backlash to the GACC’s decision to give Berry the award has been swift.

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  • Franki rhea pelham
    June 30, 2017, 4:48 pm

    I’m sorry, what help is it to quit the chamber of commerce? I’m confused?? Just a statement? But how will this help the homeless? Seems to me they’re giving into the crime. Whereis good old western justice? Nothing missing here except a possee and noose get the criminals gone!!!!

  • alfonso
    July 3, 2017, 1:11 pm

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Controversy over Feeding Homeless Gives Heartburn to Everyone Involved

    By Jeremy Reynalds
    Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

    (ANS) — A local newspaper’s op-ed chastising the Albuquerque Police Department’s usage of its resources in targeting an individual for serving food without a permit seemed a bit over the top to me.

    The theme of the editorial was that there are better issues than chasing someone without a required license feeding the homeless which should occupy the attention of the police.
    But are there? There was no mention made in the op-ed about what could happen when you ignore those small issues. With that in mind, I thought you might like to hear the rest of the story from someone whose organization operates a mobile feeding unit for the homeless licensed by Bernalillo County.
    Firstly, let me make it clear that there is no intent to impugn the motives or integrity of those serving food without a license. Their hearts, concern and care are to be commended. I just believe there may be some issues that neither the newspaper’s staff – or they – have thought about.
    When Joy Junction prepares food for distribution from our mobile feeding unit The Lifeline of Hope, it does so from a fully licensed kitchen. Sandwiches are then placed in a Cambro (a container that keeps food at the same temperature and placed on our vehicle).
    Other foods, such as salads, soup and chili (depending on the time of year) are prepared in the same kitchen and transported to our mobile unit. Salads are placed over ice to keep at an approved and safe temperature, and soups and chili are kept warm by propane at the approved temperature. If we ever have doubts about the food temperature, we stop serving immediately. While neither this (nor the preparation and distribution of any food) is obviously totally “fail safe,” it does minimize the risks of food poisoning.
    In addition, we do not accept donations of food that don’t conform to health code standards. As a corporation following those standards, we carry liability insurance should anyone become sick, blame it on our food and litigate.
    However, where are those safety standards from the hypothetical and composite “Jimmy the kind-hearted tamale man,” who spends his own dollars and one day a week preparing and cooking tamales in his kitchen at home?
    Jimmy’s a good cook and everyone loves his tamales, but he doesn’t check temperatures when he’s cooking and the tamales are stored overnight in his (old and barely running) spare refrigerator with no thermometer. The next day, they’re placed in unapproved lunch pails or sacks and fed to many nonetheless appreciative homeless and hungry people around our city.
    All goes well until one day someone gets sick and as is often the case in our hyper-litigious society, looks for some easy money. The (again hypothetical and composite) “Sam the Lawsuit Man” finds a sharp lawyer who sues Jimmy and of course the City of Albuquerque. It’s quickly apparent that Jimmy cooks and feeds for one reason only; to help people. He has no money so attention in him quickly wanes.
    However, the City is a different case. Sam’s attorney tells the city’s risk management personnel that while police knew about Jimmy’s illegal activities they did nothing to close him down and were obviously condoning his actions. As such, they should obviously shoulder a portion of the blame for Sam’s sickness, lost earnings and emotional distress.
    The city calculates the cost of a trial versus a quick settlement without admitting guilt, and decides on the latter. The case is eventually settled for $60,000-$24,000 to the lawyer and $36,000 to Sam the Lawsuit Man.
    Following on with our hypothetical situation, a few months later, local media do a story about the “outrageous” settlements being paid by the city. The usual (fleeting) public outcry ensues. However, Jimmy’s picture is published and on local chat sites he is routinely vilified for costing the city taxpayers some of their hard earned dollars. Jimmy gets so depressed, he stops taking his medication and commits suicide.
    So what’s a city to do? Well, Albuquerque police need to get arrest particulars right the first time and communicate accurately and swiftly reasons for an arrest of this nature. If they don’t, they only have themselves to blame for how the media frame a story.
    However, local media need to make sure they dig into all aspects of a case of this nature, even when they aren’t immediately visibly apparent, and make informed commentary. As readers (and viewers) we rely on the media to provide information that may otherwise be inaccessible to us.
    For example. An under reported fact in this ongoing situation is that some of these controversial and unlicensed feedings have been occurring on the downtown Fourth Street Mall, in close proximity to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and a number of upset area merchants whose businesses have been affected by these feedings.
    In this specific instance, there’s a balance that needs to be achieved and reported on.
    It’s how to safely and legally feed our city’s ever increasing number of homeless people (without ignoring the issue as our city has been prone to do in its attempt to gentrify the downtown area), and still provide an attractive environment for our tourists.
    Toward that end, can we start a community discussion? Christians should pray for wisdom and compassion on both sides. Then, for example, we could talk about indemnifying good Samaritans from prosecution and arrest if that’s what we wanted to do. It would take the grey area out of the current murky water and could do nothing but help!

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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