PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Christian holiday was paired with an anniversary Sunday as the Panama City Rescue Mission celebrated 45 years of service on Easter.
"At the beginning it was for mainly transients, people who don't have a home. But now it's more than just the guys, there's a lot of women and also children who are affected... They need help in getting back on their feet," said Founder and Board Member Henry Hazard.
Hundreds of people gathered to enjoy an Easter meal, listen to live music and hear the stories of those who have come before them.
"I was homeless, walking the streets... A cop actually told me that I should come here, then a couple of the guys came here ministering to me and I just seen Christ and I seen the Holy Spirit in this place and I knew I needed it," said Robert Vaughan, a recovery program member and volunteer.
Vaughan is still in the recovery program, but is also a volunteer. He, along with other volunteers, said serving the community is a feeling unlike any other.
"There's people out there that need to know there's somebody that cares about them... There's somebody that's going to help them and it just made me feel real good in my heart to come out here and serve and help out," Vaughan said.
"Sometimes we don't think about it... We just think someone else is going to do it... So it was a good reminder to me and it's a great opportunity... I can't think of a better way to spend the Easter afternoon actually, it's kinda like a family meal," Volunteer and board member Karen White said.
"It's very special because without the Rescue Mission, these people would be on the streets... many of them would be begging or would be stealing and it gives them an opportunity to do something better with their lives and that's what we really want," Hazard said.