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Former resident and his father, Eli and Joe Riddell, share their testimony about The Joy House Teen Residential Program along with Executive Director Steve Lowe, to a crowd of 250+ guests at The Mill at Sharp Top Cove.

Executive Director and Pickens native Steve Lowe shared the Joy House story with 250+ guests at Young Life’s Sharp Top Cove during the April 27 annual banquet. Lowe spoke of events that began 20 years ago in the heart of a 33-year-old electrical engineer seeking to follow the will of God to bring restoration to teens and families. 

Lowe shared example after example of how God has showered The Joy House with unexpected blessings throughout the years, from the perfect piece of land off Cove Road to the “just right” staff members to build the ministry together. Lowe stated how a “faithful God who makes a way” has been the story of the ministry all along. 

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Executive Director Steve Lowe, speaking at The Joy House Annual Banquet.

The evening was especially reflective on the tremendous impact Garry Barber, The Joy House’s beloved counseling center director who passed away in December of 2020, had on the ministry, the community and even the mission to come. Abby Elam, who served alongside Barber for many years, tearfully expressed how he mentored her and fellow counselor, Bill Wattenbarger, to be counselors “offering grace and compassion” to the people who walk through the counseling center doors. Elam is grateful to be able to provide services that are affordable for the community, much due to the generosity of the ministry supporters, and she assures that the ministry will carry on the mission that Barber so passionately lived, which includes loving, caring for, grieving with, and leaning into the lives of their clients. 

Multiple client testimonies were shared from both the teen residential program and community counseling center. In a video testimony, George Parton shared how the counseling center “saved [his] life” as he and his wife, Laurie, testified to the impact their counselor, Wattenbarger, and the ministry has had on them since the tragic passing of their son, Brent. On stage, father and son, Joe and Eli Riddell, shared about their family’s journey through The Joy House Teen Residential Program, a regional ministry serving multiple North Georgia counties. "Both testified that they have learned to listen more and respect one another better."  Eli, now a graduate of the program, is finishing up his 11th grade year and has dreams of attending college. 

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Zach Phelps, Jennifer Boggus, Don Boggus, Terry Luck and Janice Luck attend The Joy House Annual Banquet celebrating 20 years of ministry.

Even during these very challenging times, the ministry chooses to “abound in hope,” the theme of the evening, for what’s to come, including breaking ground on its new home for girls “any day now” and pursuing plans to build the Garry Barber Memorial Counseling Center. Lowe challenged the community to “do what we can” for one another to keep families strong and to reach out to those children in our lives living in unfortunate circumstances. 

A recording of the annual banquet is available to be viewed online at The Joy House’s website, thejoyhouse.org, where you can learn more about this local 501(c)(3) mission.

The Joy House’s multi-faceted ministries are all based on their clients “ability to pay,” which means most of their funding comes from the generosity of the community. The event raised approximately $73,000 in gifts and pledges. The community is invited to invest in this ministry online at thejoyhouse.org or by texting “GIVE” to 770.692.3722.