Steve Lowe is the Executive Director and one of the original co-founders of the Joy House ministry. Steve has lived in Pickens County all of his life and has worked with teenagers for over 15 years with various ministries in the county. After seeing and ministering to broken families firsthand and taking into his own home a teenager from a broken family, he knew that something needed to be done.
Steve began to envision a ministry in Pickens County that would bring, in his own words, “Christ’s hope and healing to teens and their families and break the cycle of hurt for future generations, allowing them to understand God’s best for their life”. He had hopes for “a place where God would be recognized as real and relevant and people would give glory to Him for the great things He has done.”
After meeting several people with the same passion and desire to see God move in broken families across our area, Steve’s vision turned into reality, and the Joy House ministry was formed.
Steve’s ministry as Executive Director is to facilitate and administrate the operations and procedures of the Joy House ministry to its staff as well as its residents. He’s responsible for making sure all the resources are in place for the entire staff to carry out the ministry to the teens and families they serve. He also spends time mentoring and guiding his staff as a spiritual influence and a close friend. Some of Steve’s hobbies are playing basketball and/or tennis, spending time in the Word of God, reading, and spending time with his family. He is a proud graduate of The Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
Administrative Assistant / Intake Coordinator
Pam Layfield serves the Joy House as the Administrative Assistant and Intake Coordinator. Pam has lived in Pickens County for 16 years. In her early years she went to church and knew about Christ, but did not live her life for Christ. In 2002, she went through a divorce and began to seek the Lord, giving her life to Christ completely in 2003. In October of 2004, she attended a women’s retreat called Tres Dias where she was really impacted by the Lord and felt that she needed to make Christ the center of everything she does.
She has been serving the Lord vigorously ever since. She began volunteering at the Joy House soon after, and after volunteering for two years accepted a position as the administrative assistant. Although her responsibilities are mostly behind a desk, she says that her heart is always “with the teens”, who inspire her, along with the Lord, to do the work that she does. She loves her job and still volunteers by relieving the house parents so that she can spend time with the teens. She says it’s a JOY to be a part of something so great!
She has one daughter, Amy, and two grandchildren. Pam also enjoys spending time with her two dogs Sierra and Bailey, reading, and doing interpretive dance during the worship services at her church. She is a valuable resource and a great friend to those of us here at the Joy House.
Richard & Ali Metcalf
Boys House Parents
Richard and Ali Metcalf are the house parents in the boy's home at The Joy House. Before coming to The Joy House, they lived in Dallas, GA working together for many years at a retirement community and serving and leading on a volunteer basis through various ministries of Floyd Road Baptist Church including the Children’s Ministry, AWANA, Vacation Bible School, Bible Studies, Mission Trips, Youth Outings and really wherever they could plug themselves in. They were blessed to grow up in Christian families under the influence of wonderful preachers and mentors who instilled in them the desire to serve in Christian ministry. Since they were teenagers, Richard and Ali have professed a calling to missions and serving the Lord. After learning of the opportunity to serve at The Joy House, the Metcalfs decided it was time to leave their successful careers and commit to ministry full-time. They joined The Joy House team in May 2014.
Richard was saved at a young age in Children’s Church and felt called to ministry during a mission trip to Mexico in 2003. Ali was saved as a young child and felt the pull to ministry and serving while in her youth. They met in Austell, Georgia during their middle school years at a church outing, were friends through their youth, and started dating during high school. They were married in 2005. They have two sons, Eli and Luke. As a family they enjoy going to the park, movie nights, and participating in church activities and events. Eli is very creative, like his mom, and enjoys learning and playing soccer. Luke loves sports, like his dad, and enjoys basketball, football and soccer. Both boys are excited about their home in Jasper and getting to spend quality time with their mom and dad during the day.
Richard is excited to have the opportunity to share his love of sports and the outdoors with the boys at The Joy House and using his skills from his many years of working in maintenance to help the ministry. Ali, who grew up in a large family, feels blessed to be able to be a parent figure to the boys at The Joy House and to use her creative side to plan activities for the boys. She enjoys cooking and intends to garden to help incorporate garden fresh foods into the meals she prepares.
Both Richard and Ali are so grateful that God led them to The Joy House and made their vision clear that God was calling them to this ministry. They want to be “doers of the word” as described in James 1 and will strive to encourage the boys to do the same with their lives. They hope to reflect Christ in everything they do as house parents for the boys and consider it a privilege to be a part of sowing seeds of faith in this critical time of the teens’ lives.
Director of Education
Ron Rucker is the director of The Joy House Academy. Ron is the founder and pastor of Cornerstone Church, a non denominational congregation established in 1996. Ron had this to say: “Why would anyone add more work to an already busy life as a husband, father, grandfather and pastor of a great Church family? I have been an observer, supporter and friend of the Joy House since it began. Now, I can be part of this team where God is at work. I do not want to rust out; I want to burn out for God’s work. My wife Lea is the real reason that I can take this position. She is taking on the administrative duties so I can be free to teach and supervise. I am so thankful for her support. The elders and congregation of Cornerstone are allowing me to expand our ministry. What a great congregation!”
Ron brings years of teaching experience as an Assistant Professor teaching in the Business Administration Department at Tennessee Temple University. He is, also, a former Executive with Equifax. “I feel like the great imposter! However, I come to this position trusting God to equip my wife and me to make a difference in the lives of these students.” Ron enjoys Ham Radio as a hobby, and is installing a radio station at the Joy House as part of the Physical Science Lab.
Ron has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from West Virginia State University, his Master of Business Administration Degree is from the University of Tennessee, and his Master of Ministry is from Temple Baptist Theological Seminary, Chattanooga, TN.
Robin Whitaker is the Joy House Academy classroom teacher. She attended Reinhardt College from 1980-1982 and graduated from Kennesaw College in 1985. She is certified in English and Secondary Education as well as in Gifted education. Over her thirty-year teaching career, she has worked with students at all levels, from the honors to the at-risk population.
In May 2015 Robin retired from her thirty-year career teaching English at Cherokee High School in Cherokee County. While she has always felt called to teach, she could no longer tolerate what she saw as the state-wide bureaucratic dismantling of public education. She was uncertain what was next for her and prayed that God would direct her path.
When her own child faced a crisis in July and August following her retirement, Robin turned to God for help. In a moment of helpless desperation, she prayed, “God, I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength. I don’t have the money. I can’t do it.” God said to her, “Maybe you can’t, but I can.” The next day, her friend sent her a text; the friend had seen through her Facebook feed that the Joy House was looking for an English teacher, and she immediately thought, “Robin needs that.” Robin went to our Joy House page and saw that we were looking for “an English/literature teacher who wants to spread the love of Christ.” She knew that the Joy House was the place God meant for her to be.
Robin was hired in August of 2015 and she continues to marvel at God’s power, and she is thrilled to be able to teach in an environment that not only allows her to talk about God, but that encourages it. She is thankful that God has provided an opportunity not only to meet the needs of her own child but to help others at the same time, doing what she has always loved and felt called to do: teaching.
Director of Residential Therapy
Darren Lane has joined us as a counselor to our teens and families. Darren has lived in Pickens County for over 31 years. Having grown up in a non-Christian environment at home, Darren wasn’t introduced to church until he was 16 years old. He was married at a young age, however through struggles in his marriage he came to the Lord when he was 23 years old. Since then, he has strived to imitate Christ in his life by serving Him and serving his family. He says that “Christianity isn’t an all out sprint…the race that I run is a long distance marathon.”
Darren came to the Joy House because of his passion to minister to youth and their families through Godly and Biblical counseling. He says that “Christian counseling is a passion that stirs deep within my soul and has been a clearly defined direction and purpose for my life.” He enjoys riding bikes, lifting weights, and in the warmer months loves to walk with his wife behind their home after dinner. Most of all, he says that “Simply spending time with my family is the ‘hobby’ I look forward to the most.”
Darren has a B.S. from Kennesaw State University in Psychology and currently holds a position as Music Minister and Worship Leader at Cool Springs Baptist Church in Jasper, Georgia.
Director of Counseling Center
Garry is a native of Cherokee County, Georgia. Ministry pursuits have led him to many places in the world (including Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as other parts of the U.S.).
In 2009 Garry and his family moved to Pickens County where he has focused upon Christian counseling. He became the founding director of the Joy House Counseling Center in May of 2012.God has given Garry a love for people and a desire to walk with them through the challenges of life. Through the ministry of the Joy House Counseling Center he works with people of all ages and a wide variety of counseling issues. He holds a B.S. in Public and Social Services – Psychology (Kennesaw State University); Master of Arts in Human Services –Marriage and Family (Liberty University); Master of Divinity (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary); and the Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Christian Counseling (International Institute of Christian Counseling). He has also done doctoral studies at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in missions and pastoral ministries.
In 1986 Garry married Judith Cagle. Judith is a high school English teacher and the mother of their five children. One of the great joys of his life is making music and leading worship with his wife and children. He hopes to live by the words of God to the prophet Micah: “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
Bill joined the Joy House team in May of 2015 to work in the Counseling Center as it seeks to extend counseling services to the region. He provides biblical, Christian and pastoral counseling services to those who are hurting, confused or overwhelmed.
Summarizing his faith, Bill gives an Everyman's creed saying, "God is real. He is the source of all fact, truth and goodness. The Bible tells us about Him and we can know Him personally through His Son, Jesus. Every moment is an opportunity to accept His loving lordship, or not. All things are sacred and nothing is too small for God. God really knows, really loves, really saves and really heals.”
Bill earned a Master's degree from the University of Florida and a Doctoral degree in Counseling from the University of Georgia. He is recently retired from a career in vocational rehabilitation, helping those with special needs to live and work independently. He served in many different capacities, with 10 years at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, a large residential program.
He is married with five children and four grandchildren. Bill's interests include devotional writing, gardening, music and drama.
In Galatians, nine fruit of the Spirit are presented. They are a picture of Christian character. All are given, not earned. Love, joy and peace describe the inner life in Christ, one's state of being. A Christian is patient, kind, good and gentle, the outward signs of an indwelling Holy Spirit. A Christian is also faithful and deliberate in his devotion to God and God's call.
Joy is more than mere happiness. It is ranked with Love and Peace. The Joy House provides safe haven to those who seek to know God's Love, find God's Peace and experience God's Joy, the irrepressible need to express their new life with thanksgiving and witness. It is this Joy which propels all who receive its services, support its mission and programs, and serve in its ministry. Bill is grateful to be part of the inspired work of the Joy House.
Counseling Center Assistant
Abby is our Counseling Center Assistant. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University and has spent the last several years working for different nonprofit organizations and ministries. Abby has always felt a strong call to ministry, specifically in caring for others and making them feel safe and loved no matter their circumstances.
Over the last 8 years she has worked with the ministry of YoungLife on both a professional and volunteer basis. In 2014 her work with YoungLife brought her to Jasper where she was first introduced to The Joy House. She has since felt a connection to what the Lord is doing in the lives of families and teens through the Joy House ministry. After a few years of working with YoungLife in another state she found herself back in Georgia and looking to live out her calling in a new way. God opened an unexpected door for Abby to join the Joy House ministry team to provide administrative assistance and a welcoming presence in the counseling center.