Entering their 15th year, Joy House founder Steve Lowe said he has never seen a bigger need for the Christian ministry operating a residential program for teens and a non-residential counseling program.
“We have been inundated with calls,” Lowe said in an interview earlier this month. “Something has happened, more people know about us. Our homes are full and we have a waiting list.”
Actually, a lot has happened, all good for the ministry that started with Lowe and one teen (who is now a decorated sheriff deputy).
For those not familiar the with the Joy House, they are located off of Cove Road and their mission statement says they provide a comprehensive residential program for at-risk teens partnering with their families and non-residential Christian counseling aimed at restoring the individual and family.
Lowe said of particular need at this moment is an additional girls’ home. Currently the Joy House campus has a boys’ home (which also includes their school) and a separate girls home (which houses their administration office). A third building houses their counseling center.
Lowe said there are five-six girls on a waiting list now for a spot in their residential program which can house seven. More frustrating, there are few referral options for girls.
Lowe said he has a couple of options for the parents of boys when they are full, but there are virtually no similar programs for girls.
“Many parents are reluctant to send girls to wilderness camps or boot camps,” Lowe said. “The only other home-style program I know of is Eagle Ranch.”
Under their 15th anniversary comprehensive campaign, they seek to add another home with the same floor-plan as the first two. The new home would also include meeting space for group sessions with parents whose kids are in the program and other group activities.
The counseling program began in 2012 and has since expanded to both Cherokee and Gilmer counties. Rapid growth is fueling the need for expansion. The Joy House has two Christian counselors, both with doctorates, seeing as many as 50 different clients every week. They plan to add a third counselor.
The comprehensive campaign needs to collect $2 million.
Phase 1 ($1.25 Million) consists of the 8,000 square-foot girls’ home; expansion of the counseling center gaining a visible presence in Cherokee County; purchase of a nine-acre tract that sits between the current campus and Cove Road; an operations reserve that will be critical in launching the opening of the new girls home.
Phase 2 ($750,000) - develop the nine acres and build a dedicated counseling center/administration building.
Lowe doesn’t put any timeline on raising money.
“I’d love to have it in one year, but it’s up to the Lord,” he said. “I do know that we will have to have $1.25 million in hand before we start building anything.”
The Joy House has held one major capital campaign before campus and one shorter one. The ministry has a policy of not taking on debt and will follow that policy with the latest effort as well.
For more information on the Joy House, www.thejoyhouse.org.