Joy House Annual Banquet

Tuesday evening, April 27, 2021, Executive Director and Pickens native, Steve Lowe, shared with 250+ guests at Young Life’s SharpTop Cove how The Joy House’s story began twenty 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.
Steve 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.
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 that 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 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.
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 their new girl’s home “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, where you can learn more about this local 501(c)(3).
The Joy House’s multi-faceted ministries are all based on the “ability to pay” of their clients, which means most of their funding comes from the generosity of the community. The event raised approximately $73,000 in gifts and pledges. You can invest in this ministry online at or by texting “GIVE” to 770.692.3722.