Popular local leader bids farewell

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Panama City is bidding farewell to one of its more popular leaders.

One local leader says farewell as he prepares for retirement and the community looks back on his legacy. (WJHG/WECP)

Thurman Chambers is the President and CEO of the Panama City Rescue Mission and Bethel Village until he retires June 30.

"We're just gonna relax and move to Atlanta where our kids are," said Chambers.

Under his guidance, the Rescue Mission and Bethel Village have helped countless people get off the streets and on the road to recovery, like Xenia Majchrzak.

"On May 25 of 2017 I had overdosed and I didn't get any help until the next morning so when I got to the hospital they told my mom, 'She's brain dead'," said Majchrzak.

Shortly after that, she found Bethel Village.

"And it was just perfect how everything came to fruition. It's like right when I was ready I found it," said Majchrzak.

Chambers says the key to its success is its model, "Just treat them like human beings and don't enable them but do what you can for them."

Despite how much has changed over the years, the Mission has been busier than ever.

Callaway's Mayor, Pamn Henderson said, "We do have a large homeless population and people need someplace they can go to to get help. You know, a lot of the people that are homeless do have addiction issues."

And although Chambers may be closing this chapter, the need for places like this won't be retiring any time soon.

Henderson added, "I'm afraid we're always gonna have a homeless issue so I think there's probably always gonna be a need for places like the Rescue Mission."

"I just want to encourage people to continue to support this mission and their prayers and thoughts will always be with us," said Chambers.

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