When things get hot, Billy Fox just want to dump it into the cities lap.

As we head into the holiday season, the Panama City Rescue Mission can serve as a place of comfort and care. Some also say it’s a breeding ground for vagrancy and crime. Not some “say”..this is documented fact. Next year, the mission says it’s shaking things up to change its image and save resources.

Next years philosophy will be a return to the mission’s original philosophy – namely helping those who help themselves.

Marie and Dave Rutenberg are putting in the hours at the rescue mission. For them serving visitors a warm smile and a hot meal is a privilege.

“It was very nice to see that we could do something, even a menial task that could help people,” Ms. Rutenberg said.

Volunteers like the Rutenbergs aim to serve those that need the help. However, Reverend Billy Fox says they’re having issues with those who don’t want the help.

“We put a lot of the resources into those who are choosing a vagrant lifestyle,” Rev. Fox said. “They’re not getting anywhere and we’re not able to help them.” This is actually an honest statement from Billy Fox for a change. But he has not stated this because he has “seen the light”. The reality is the writing is on the wall. Donations are down as the community has tired of the ever escalating negative impact of the PCRM on our community. Other options are available to our community to give their donation dollars to organizations that do a better job of serving the needy and do so responsibly without creating a public nuisance. Mr. Fox is losing his leverage as a sole provider of needed services to our community making him less and less relevant as a solution to our communities homeless problems.

Which is why the Rescue Mission is making changes come January, starting with available beds.

“Right now, they can get 5 consecutive nights in a 30 day period of time,” Rev. Fox said. “Now that moves to 60.”

That’s not the only change.

“It’s going to be case by case…they come and say ‘well here’s a change that’s taken place in my life,'” Rev. Fox said.

He says it marks a return to their original philosophy, one that makes sense especially with the city considering a new community resource center for homeless.

“We’ve become all things to all people, not on purpose, but because the city needed it,” Again, Mr. Fox twist facts to paint a different picture than what is reality. The problems of the excessive numbers of homeless in our community are a direct result of the activities of the PCRM. The city did not “need” the services until Mr. Fox and his organization made the mission into a big business enterprise being “successful” only off of ever increasing numbers of homeless. Rev. Fox said. “Now the city is saying ‘we’ll take that responsibility,’ we’re glad to let them take on that populace.” More crafty language on behalf of Mr. Fox. the city is saying “we will take responsibility” because Mr. Fox has done such a poor job of doing so.  The PCRM management and board of directors have placed city officials in a position that they have no other alternative but to get involved with the problem and take responsibility.

While the center is in the works, Rev. Fox says career vagrants wont be allowed to drain the mission’s resources. “Resources”..this is your donation dollars that are used to pay the $625,000 in annual staff salaries and six figure income of Mr. Fox’s household.

“They’re going to have to hang out somewhere and they’ll be somewhere in the downtown area like they were 7 or 8 years ago,” Rev. Fox said. THREATS THREATS THREATS….the mantra that Mr. Fox operates under. Scare the citizenry to thinking that if Super Billy does not come in to save the day that the city will be overrun by vagrants. Mr. Fox, the city is already overrun by a homeless and vagrancy problem that YOU created and refuse to be a party to with solutions

Rev. Fox and his volunteers stress it’s always been about changing lives, but only if they are willing to take the necessary steps

“The people who really need to come here and want the services should be the ones who are served,” Mr. Rutenberg said. “It’s our privilege to help in doing it.”

Those changes are set to go into effect at the mission in January. Meanwhile, the city will continue their discussion on a news homeless resource center at Tuesday’s Panama City commission meeting.


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1 Comment

  1. Roger

     /  December 21, 2012

    From the Desk of Rev. Billy Fox, 12/21/2012
    Is the Rescue Mission moving? Can the city shut it down? What is the Community Homeless Center all about? These and many other questions come to me from people I meet about town, at churches and other community functions. I’m sure most of our donors, volunteers and local citizens are asking the same questions. As co-laborers, you need to know the latest about the city’s efforts to change us. You are a vital part of our Life Changers Giving Team and thought it best you know where the Mission stands.

    Our Strategic Planning Committee and Staff presented the Mission’s Board of Directors with two major motions to answer the “shall we move” question:

    1st Motion – To decline the city’s offer of property at the county jail complex area and stay in our present location. Also, that the Mission should stay with its original goals and increase its focus on the Mission’s Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries transitional programs. The Mission’s efforts and resources you fund would be diverted to those who want help and are seeking a hew way of life rather than the habitual, chronic homeless, who choose the vagrant lifestyle. Revised programs would be in place by January 2013 and the Day Shelter portion of the Homeless Resource Center would be closed. (with the city overseeing the chronic homeless away from the downtown area as they’ve desired).

    2nd Motion – The Board will begin an active search for a location more suitable for the Pathways population and its programs. The sale of the valuable downtown property would serve as the major funding resource for the move.

    Both motions passed unanimously and the staff was directed to proceed with detailing the changes.

    The answers then: The Mission will stay, move only as God directs us and make new pathways for those on the road to recovery. The Community Resource Center sponsored by the city will have the opportunity to take charge of the chronic homeless population and proceed with its plan to provide services to this population. Become a part of the Life Changers Giving Team.

    Now the city, the mayor and the task force will have a chance to see what the homeless population is really about. In a couple of weeks the downtown and surrounding area will be flooded by the transient population that will no longer be welcome at the mission. Thanks a lot everyone for making this a reality. Was it really necessary to villianize Rev. Fox and the Mission as a scapegoat and precipitate this action? Great that the new resource center will open somewhere; you don’t even know if and when it will ever come to fruition, and in the mean time the downtown and surrounding area will really be flooded with homeless transients. What are we supposed to do then? You all wanted the problem solved but now thanks to all this needless drama, all we are going to get as of January 1st of next year is a real, first hand look at what the problem really is. God it is going to be so much worse now, and even if the resource center is accomplished, do you really believe this population is going to participate? Thanks again, I thought you wanted to help!! Now we, the taxpaying citizens who live downtown, will have to pay for your lies and arrogance.


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