Billy has spoken…

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Billy fox released a public statement on Friday via the panama city rescue mission website.

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.

http://pcrmission.org/is-the-rescue-mission-moving-a-letter-from-the-desk-of-rev-billy-fox/

Also from the Panama City Rescue Mission website a “history” as provided by the organization:

When Carol and Billy Fox answered the call to come to Bay County almost 8 years ago they discovered a social services community that was behind other communities they had served in 20 plus years of serving the least, the last, and the lost.  Mayor Gerry Clemmons sought the help of the Panama City Rescue Mission with the fast growing population of homeless in the downtown area during  daytime hours.

The solution the Mission offered was a Homeless Day Resource Center on its 6th Street campus.  Within a few months the center was opened, service agencies were recruited and an office was provided for the Northwest Florida Homeless and Hunger Coalition a tax payer financed organization formally run by Mr. Fox. See our post (https://movethemission.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/1000-piece-jigsaw-puzzle/) to coordinate the efforts.  The day shelter brought people off the streets and connected the services of a dozen agencies together to aid them in returning to self-reliance.  Even with its ups and downs and funding challenges, it provided hundreds of people with jobs, homes, health and other resources in a “one stop shop”. This is misleading as the mission is incapapable of serving a large segment of those labeled homeless lacking the infrastructure , resources and know how to address the problems of anything other than a specific bandwith of problemed individual. Additionally, the mission management will refuse you service if you are of another faith than Christian. This fact alone discounts the PCRM as either a sole or primary service provider to the community to address the needs of our population. The Mission created 7 special programs for extending the stay of those who were willing and able to follow the directions of the agencies as they find their personal pathway back to home, thus the birth of The Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries as the Mission’s transitional programs.

The numbers of people becoming homeless continued to increase at an alarming pace. Increased at an alarming rate because Billy Fox solicited every larger growing populations. Why here? Why are our populations of homeless ten fold of other cities of our size? After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, less fortunate individuals and families relocated to our area looking for work and a new life.  The struggling economy and rising unemployment in the following years upset the tourist industry. The continued building of condos, homes,  and related businesses that the area had seen for several years stopped abruptly.  The Mission found itself opening floor space for sleeping in the Chapel and other areas  to an average of 30+ people each night. Cold or rainy weather often increased that overflow bed number to more than 60.  In two years’ time, the kitchen’s meals served went from 400 per day to highs of over 800.

The Deep Horizon oil spill of 2010 led hundreds of people to our area seeking work.  So few found work that the Mission once again rose to the call to help them with shelter, food and a way back home.One more group, organization, company or individual blaming their plight on BP oil. The oil spill had nothing to do with our homeless population problem.

These events and conditions impacted Mission support.  The opportunity for employment for many of our guests diminished and the need for services continued to grow.

The chronic, habitual persons who choose a transient, vagrant lifestyle historically had been about 20% of the Mission’s population.  A few years back that number was 20 to 25 people.  Today that group of people reaches 60 to 80.  Many frequent the Mission’s Day Shelter and come for meals.   With them come the conflicts that often result in the need to call on the police for assistance.  The situation became a revolving door from the Mission, to the jail and back to the Mission again as we cooperated with the city’s earlier request for us to assist.  The actions of this out-of –control group led the city commissioners to create an ordinance targeted at the Mission for nuisance calls to the police.  Services to this population also became the most public  aspect of services provided at the Mission,  producing a negative image and calling into question the effectiveness of the other programs provided.

Mayor Greg Brudnicki’s  Homeless Task Force sought to close the Mission and open a publicly funded shelter and social service facility in a concentrated location, (was this term not “concentrated camp location” just yesterday on your website?..hmm sounded a little too much like concentration camp huh) 14 miles outside of the view of downtown (14 miles out to create buffers between the facility and the general population thus lowering the impact of neighboring property owners/ businesses AND as “experts” on homeless programs should know providing an atmosphere where those participating in programs can devote the required time on recovering, rehabilitation or retraining without having negative influences literally feet away outside the front door of the facility. .  The Mission’s Board of Directors responded  to the negative publicity brought by the ordinance The “negative publicity” was not because of the ordinance, the negative publicity was brought on by the nuisance that the facility created and the arrogant reluctance on managements part to become “co-laborers” in finding solutions that lowered the negative iompact of their own actions. and questions about the Mission’s future.  The Mission would reduce the services provided to the chronic homeless and redirect its efforts to the 80% of individuals seeking a true hand up and a new way of life.  Day sheltering would no longer be provided for those not enrolled in one of the transitional ministry programs offered.  Basic shelter will now be 5 days in a 60 day period, changed from 5 days every 30.   The desire to secure more time in shelter will provide motivation to join a transitional program and begin working toward more permanent long term solutions to one’s homelessness.   An evening meal will be offered to the general public ensuring that no one goes a full day without a meal.  These changes will be fully activated in January 2013. The services provided by the Homeless Coalition agencies will continue at the Mission’s downtown campus until the citiy’s Community Resource Center comes to fruition.

http://pcrmission.org/pathways-ministries-history/

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5 Comments

  1. Roger

     /  December 22, 2012

    I actually agree. The mission and it’s director seem to have lost sight of the issue at least and perhaps have exacerbated it. Having said that, I saw this blog for the first time 2 days ago and posted a few comments. Since then I have had the opportunity to read some of the posts by the bloggers at MTM and I am struck by the seemingly personal nature of the commentary. I am referring to the name calling directed at Mr. Fox (scoundrel, liar, opportunist, parasite, etc) by the MTM blogger(s). This dilutes the message, which is clearly based largely in factual information. It now reads like not much more than the proverbial pissing contest between MTM and Mr. Fox. When do we begin to discuss solutions to the problem? Name calling, and other such rather juvenile behavior does little or nothing to promote productive dialog, aimed at resolution to the mission’s negative impact on the community. This is a genuine, serious concern for those of us who reside in the downtown area and do business there. Can we please stop the childish tug of war and get back to the issue. Surely MTM realizes that this kind of toxic rhetoric only causes supporters to shy away from this blog. Perhaps that is the reason the blog is virtually devoid of almost any supporting voices. We need those voices if we are going to be heard. One beligerant, combative voice; even one with lots of facts and data to back it up, is worse than silence. It drives people away. MTM I as a supporter of this cause urge you to stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution. For downtown PC’s sake.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments Roger and the main point of your comments are dead on correct. Our city needs TRUE solutions which we at MTM have been calling for all along. But solutions require participation, commitment and honesty from all parties that are involved. Are we combative? You betchya. Do we call a spade a spade? In a heart beat. NOT doing so has gotten us where we are today. Our community in efforts to remain “politically correct” and not offend anyone have allowed an organization to take advantage of our giving character as a community. Silence is not the answer. This is not an issue that should be taken lightly. TRUE FACTS must be out on the table for all to see..pimples and all. Roger, it takes two to play tug of war. Where is Mr. Fox in letting loose of the rope? As late as yesterday in his public statement he states that “he” is not moving the PCRM. The irony in all this is that “he” doesnt own the mission. He has no financial interest other than being an extremely well paid employee. The board of directors do not own the rescue mission. At the end of the day, each of them are volunteers or employees with NO financial interest in the mission. Then who does own the mission Roger? You and I and the rest of the community do with our donation dollars. So if “we” own it,why are we where we are? Why is the PCRM the only charitable organization in our community wrapped in controvery? Why do we as a community allow “our” facility to be operated in a way that creates a public nuisance? If it were a honky-tonk that were located at the same place as the PCRM and had created the same public nuisance, it would have been closed years ago in a storm of public outrage. Why should we tolerate any different just because it is the mission? There are solutions. Actually there are GREAT solutions that can even better serve our communities needy without any of the toxic impacts that the PCRM has created.We as a community must be able to look at all the facts and find those solutions.

      Reply
      • Roger Albertson

         /  December 22, 2012

        Quite true. What galls me the most perhaps is that I made a little more that $56,000 last year busting my ass, neglecting my family, and working 80 hours a week. I am sure I do not have to mention the tax liability on this income bracket and I am sick of seeing my tax dollars go into the pocket of a millionaire who is polluting our downtown and using this population to do so. The dichotomy involved is glaring.

        ________________________________

  2. cierra94

     /  December 24, 2012

    Imagine for a moment if Hurrricane Katrina would have never happened???? Imagine for a moment if the economy bust would have never happened…. Then the population of the Rescue Mission would be much much less…. No if’s and but’s about it…. Thank God that America still has people with compassion to help people when then at their lowest point in life.As for these people who post all these negitive post. They are so out of touch. I believe that these folk’s are the she same liberal people that think that our government should be taking care of them….. Just look at other socialist countries with that same socialist mind set. They are a MESS!!!!!!! I thank God for the Rescue Mission!!! As does many many other citizens in the community. I challange you to meet me at the Rescue Mission tomorrow between 2 – 4 pm. Me and my children will be distruputing items to the lest, last and lost people of our great nation. Many of which have served our country. My name is Matthew Scoggins and I will be there with my children. I challange you to step up and show up. It is an awesome way show your kids how to serve the needy with actions rather than words…. See you tomorrow

    Reply
  3. Note: above message is from Mathew Scoggins, who sits on the board of directors of the PCRM

    Matthew,

    Thank you for taking time to email your opinions on the Rescue Mission. From the tone of your email, you seem to be approaching the topic of the toxic effects of the Rescue Mission with an almost out of control emotional perspective. You are taking small little tidbits of information, slamming them together in an attempt to make the case that the Rescue Mission is the answer to our communities homeless problem.This is is the same approach you took when trying to advance the PCRM into your community in Port St. Joe. Your “data” is inaccurate and just doesn’t add up to form the conclusions that you would like it to make. I know in your hearts of hearts you are probably a good person and wanting to do right things by our communities needy. But the reality is those of us who protest the activities of the Mission the most are just like you, wanting the best for our communities needy. The difference is, we want it done in a way that is responsible to the community at large. It should not make sense to you for our community to support a facility that in says they are there to help those in need to turn right around and by the way they operate create a nuisance and hardship for another segment of the community.

    Hurricane Katrina, poor economy and any other of a host of excuses one can come up with have had no involvement over either the escalated numbers of those at the mission or the problems they have created. Emotionally you may want that to be the case and you are welcome to your own opinion but what you are not welcome to is your own facts. Additionally this issue has nothing to do with compassion or religious beliefs. We believe that it is our responsibility as Christians and citizens of our community that we provide the needed resources for those who are just needing a helping hand to find those resources and return to becoming contributing members of society. What we DONT and neither should you, support an organization that systematically has grown their facility in a way that has increased a homelessness problem by TEN FOLD of what are national averages of comparable sized cities and been described as “off the charts” as a nationally know homelessness advocate.

    I am not sure I understand the ranting details of the “socialist” comments but in that line of thinking, If one is conservative in their thinking, they would frown upon a facility that creates a sense of dependency by its participants. The mission has done a poor job of actually bringing the largest percentage of program participants to a point of elevating past being dependent. One could easily make the point that the PCRM has no interest in actually lowering program numbers as doing so lessens their “relevance” when scouting for program dollars. This is really what the proposed facility in Port St. joe, the community with zero homeless as well as the Springfield facility are all about. On paper, being larger and larger gives the appearance that the PCRM is much more necessary and hence more relevant. Relevance equals dollars. Multiple revenue resources are needed to maintain the almost three million dollars of operating money each year.

    We will not be attending any activities at the mission between 2-4 tomorrow. We have already seen first hand what the mission is and their arrogance by snubbing the very community that they turn around and ask donation dollars from. We HAVE and will continue to support a variety of other organizations that truly service those in our community in a positive way and respects our community at larger. Merry Christmas to you.

    Move the Mission

    Reply

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