Rescue Mission

By: Candace White
By: Candace White

There are hundreds in our area who do not have a place to call home.

The Panama City Rescue Mission is doing what it can to inspire hope in the homeless people in our area as well as make themselves known.

This week, the rescue mission is holding what its calls "Taking It to the Streets”, which marks the beginning to a very busy fall season.

The stereotypes and statistics are changing when it comes to who is living on the streets.

According to the Panama City Rescue Mission Director Billy Fox, so would say a “Stereotypical homeless is a man in his middle 50s, a homeless vet; [however] we're seeing a younger and younger clientele."

The rescue mission conducted a survey of their homeless clients and found 29-percent of mission residents are 35 and younger, which is up from 21-percent in 2004.

Another alarming change: 47-percent have never been homeless before, which is an increase from just two years ago when there were only 36-percent.

"A lot of the clients we serve work minimum wage jobs and number one, there's not enough affordable housing for them to find a good place to live and number two, if something bad happens in their lives, a small tragedy can just throw [them] upside down and they're left on the streets," explains Fox.

A young single mother is a change from what people imagine when they think of someone who visits the rescue mission. "They provided me with the use of a computer so that I could look for jobs and just support," says Kristi McLennan, who is a victim of domestic violence.

Fox says it's normal for staff to give so much love and support. "Just showing the love that they have for people in need” he says. "We try to help them put the pieces back together."

However, the rescue mission needs help sometimes too. Fall is their busiest time of year.

"Transients who live in colder cities tend to head down south for the warmth, for the holidays," says Fox.

And, seasonal work tends to slow around this time.

People in need flood the open doors. The rescue mission therefore needs assistance for food because they do not receive any state or federal funding. They typically feed 300-mouths a day.

The rescue mission's staff says they are grateful for any food or volunteer service they can get.

If you're interested in volunteering, please call ahead to schedule a time.

If you would like to donate food, you can drop off large cans of non-perishable food at the mission, located on Allen Avenue or any Winn Dixie store.

8195 Front Beach Road Panama City Beach, FL 32407 Station: 850-234-7777 News: 850-230-5221 Fax: 850-233-6647
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