THANKSGIVING MEAL CONTINUES AT USUAL HOME
Lack of city support threatened annual pre-Thanksgiving meal
A donor steps up to help Joy Junction after the city said it would have to pay a rental fee for space to hold its annual Thanksgiving dinner.
Joy Junction founder and chief executive officer Jeremy Reynalds was feeling a bit joyless earlier this week when he learned that the city would not donate space in the Albuquerque Convention Center for the annual pre-Thanksgiving Day meal.
The city has donated the space for the event for about the last 15 years. Joy Junction supplied the turkeys and a check for about $1,500 to the Convention Center to cover the costs of plates, plastic utensils, pies, coffee and soft drinks.
The annual dinner attracts 1,200 or more homeless and hungry people, Reynalds said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, he said, SMG, the contractor that operates the Convention Center, told him the city would not be offering the space freely this year, but was willing to work with Joy Junction if it wished to pay the $6,000 rental fee.
The good news is that Doug Peterson of Peterson Properties, has agreed to pay the Convention Center rental fee, Reynalds said. Joy Junction
maintains its corporate offices Downtown in a building owned by Peterson Properties.
Reynalds said he was told by Chris Chavez in the city’s Office of Economic Development that “such a commitment could possibly be an ‘encumbrance’ upon the next mayoral administration.”
Berry spokeswoman Rhiannon Samuel, said in an email that the city partners with many homeless advocacy organizations. “We wish we could fund the countless requests we receive, but unfortunately we do not have unlimited resources. We are pleased to hear that the private sector has stepped up to fill this unfortunate gap that was previously borne by taxpayer dollars.”
Reynalds said he suspects the city’s withdrawal is retribution for his being “a vocal critic of the Berry administration for some years,” particularly on issues affecting the poor and homeless.
Most recently, Reynalds withdrew Joy Junction’s membership in the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce after it presented him with its Award for Excellence in Public Safety. Reynalds called the June presentation “an untimely and inappropriate award” during a time of escalating violence and crime in the city.
Volunteers serve up pre-Thanksgiving dinners for needy families at the Convention Center. Joy Junction has sponsored the meal for years.