Billy Fox resurfaces in Santa Rosa Beach

SANTA ROSA BEACH — The rescue mission in Santa Rosa Beach will be expanding its veterans’ services with the help of a long-time mission minister.

The Rev. Billy Fox, former Panama City Rescue Mission director, has joined the Haven House Mission of Santa Rosa Beach as director of ministry development. The Haven House Mission has a Christian substance abuse recovery program for men and with Fox on board will begin expanding its outreach to veterans who developed addictions during their time of service. You don’t suppose Mr. Fox has found an untapped revenue stream of governmental funds that he can cozy up to do you? Was Fox not just terminated from the PCRM because they were changing the direction of their services” to look just like this program? If he was unfit to run the program in Panama City, why would he all of a sudden be the ideal candidate for the same program in Walton County?

Fox, an Air Force veteran, will oversee the veteran addiction recovery pilot program, which will be based on several programs developed at former ministries he has run Why are there multiple former ministries associated with Fox?. Fox said the environment of Haven House Ministry would be positive for the program’s success rate.

“It’s tough for these guys to be in a downtown setting and so close to temptation,” Fox said. “This is more tranquil, more off the beaten path. This time last year it was Fox himself that is quoted as saying that the services provided at the PCRM needed to be located downtown and that a more remote location such as what the BARC was “unworkable”. Why the change of tune?
The Haven House residential treatment center can house more than 30 men in the year-long program. Of those, 12 beds have been reserved for veterans coping with stress disorders through substance abuse.

Fox will handle church and public relations, fund development Follow the money and Mr. Fox is not too far behind and ministry enhancements. He also will teach various Bible-based lessons in addiction recovery, share in leading Sunday services and perform other ministerial duties.

Fox was ousted Note that the news media finally used the correct term of “ousted” from the Panama City Rescue Mission in 2013 when it changed its emphasis away from housing the homeless to addiction recovery and transitioning the homeless into work or more accurately that his overreaching programs to grow larger and larger populations of program participants started to have negative impact on the PCRM . Declining donations were unable to support his and his wife’s bloated six figure salaries.


WJHG “Rescue mission announces changes”

Local television media outlet WJHG provided this article from their online addition. Unfortunately, the reporter asked few probing questions with knowledge of the overall issues associated with the Rescue Mission, its impact on neighboring businesses and property owners or uses of community money in the form of donations or grant money (taxpayer money). So we are going to help her along a bit:

PANAMA CITY — The Bethel Village program isn’t the only thing that’s changed at the Panama City Rescue Mission. What does this mean? Are you talking about the Bethel Village facility that was opened on 11th street at the site of the former women’s shelter? This is the facility that was opened using grant money (taxpayer fund) at a location already zoned for commercial use after the city of Springfield and the courts system confirmed that the facility was inappropriate for their community? Is this the same facility that had its director “resign under duress” just this past week as the PCRM down-scaled the scope of the program so signifiucantly that the now former director has formed her own organization to  pickup where the PCRM has now dropped the ball?

After former director Billy Fox’s departure the word you are looking for is “fired”. Mrs Fox was “fired” also, the organization changed directions, focusing less on sheltering the homeless and more on rehabilitation programs.

That has helped significantly reduce the homeless and vagrancy problems in downtown Panama City area By who’s matrix? If the problem at one point had reached levels “ten fold of that of comparable cities” defined by a national expert on homeless, even if you cut it in half its still a major problem.

The Panama City Rescue Mission used to house dozens of homeless people each night. The facility now has just 10 beds for overnight stays Dont think this just “happened”. First off, they were in violation of state fire codes and had been written up by the fire marshal mandating they lower the numbers or get shut down. Secondly, they dont have any money. They are a half million dollars in debt as they have been living high on the hog with donor money for years. The reality of what the mission is and is not is being seen by our charitable community and they choose to write their checks elsewhere

When Rescue Mission board members parted company with former director Billy Fox (again, “fired” is the word you are looking for ), they also abandoned his philosophy of marketing services to the homeless. Funny the choice of words used here as Fox denied denied denied that services were being “marketed” to the homeless community.

Rescue Mission Executive Director Thurman Chambers said, “After a period of time we want you to get your own place. This can’t be your home.”

The new focus is on rehabilitating those looking for help.

“Over a period of time you’ve got to look at your whole program to see what’s going on with this. And that’s when they put in the five night thing. You got five nights, you’re out of here if you don’t join the program which is recovery transitional or work program. There’s three of them,” said Chambers.
This change has played a role in improving the vagrancy issues in the downtown panama city. Again, by who’s matrix? Chambers? How about asking downtown business people and property owners the question. Some might argue new city ordinances banning panhandling activity was the beginning of the end. End of what? Even now as the rescue mission has basically cleaned house of any leftover personnel from the Fox administration, and having hammered finances operating in the red, they still refuse to acknowledge the toxic impact that they have had on the neighboring community and downtown. They refuse to lay the cards on the table and admit to all of the unsavory activities  that have been occurring at the mission . They refuse to participate with other local service agencies and organizations in a way that allows the blending of resources in a way that provides the best level of  need to those in our community who seek it.
The city also instituted a nuisance call program, evicting people from houses and businesses with excessive calls for police service No one has ever been evicted from a house or business due to the regulation. Even with the regulation in place, there are extensive benchmarks that have to occur in order for an actual eviction to take place.
In 2012, Panama City police answered 458 calls at the Rescue Mission.

Last year that number dropped to 236. So far this year, there’s been just 67 calls. Statistically, this years rate would reflect an INCREASE of incidents that would require police intervention. Even by this math, the police are showing up very day or every other day to deal with an issue at the mission. How much does this cost the city to have this much police exposure? 

And police teamed with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office to give homeless people a one-way bus ticket back to their homes. this is a limited program with limited financial resources. Despite all these measures, police insist they don’t target the homeless.

Panama City Police Department Major Kathy Rausa said, “I think that our officers do give just as we would any citizen seeking any type of help, the information to get help. Whether it’s to the rescue mission or veteran services or any other services that might help them.”


The drum keeps beating……


Cathy Boyd Byrd, former head of woman’s programs

An open letter to students and volunteers: A number of questions have arisen from people who are puzzled by my decision to leave Bethel Village, and expressing their concern that I have let down the ladies whom I have loved and served. With the Mission’s postings today referring to changes and comparing the old way ( under my tenure there) to the Levitical law and the new way to the law of love and grace, (which I believe may have been removed) have been given the freedom to express my own perspective of what happened. I left under duress this past Wednesday, April 16, at about 10am, as the executive director of PCRM and the HR person sat in my office with a lengthy severance package, ready to fire me, that included restraining me from being honest about my experience there. I had already come to the conclusion that we were at an impasse and I would need to plan for something beyond Bethel Village. In fact, I met with our staff at Bethel Village just two hours earlier and told them I had decided to begin planning for an orderly departure at some point and giving them advance notice and the opportunity to help me plan to leave our students safe and informed. There had been an effort since early October to marginalize me in any role of leadership. Any authority I had over decisions about the women’s program had already been stripped. I was meeting with obstacles at every turn, and, increasingly, with misrepresentations that I found necessary to challenge, even to the extent of believing that I would need to secure legal representation. I had repeatedly sought to negotiate for what I believed were policies we had established in the best interest of the program ladies, with no success. Many may not know that I was put on paid administrative leave from 3/7 to 4/7 with no warning or discussion, while an “investigation” was conducted of allegations made by women who are no longer at Bethel Village. They are women that staff had been required to discipline in the past for their resistance to policies and who were at the end of their programs, for the most part. Someone saw an opportunity and took it. The entire investigation was handled poorly. I was never given a chance to hear the charges or defend myself. It looked very much like an extended effort to drum up a rationale for firing me. In the end, the HR person found no violations and recommended that I be returned to work without even placing a disciplinary letter in my personnel file, as she reported to me. From my return to work on 4/7 until 4/16 when I left rather than be fired, things went from difficult to impossible. The proposed changes at PCRM are well and good, for what they wish to accomplish. It simply falls short of the standards for discipleship and mentoring in a decidedly Christian transformational way that we had worked hard to put into place over the last five years. Was the former program structured? Yes. Was it challenging? Yes. Did it work? For some, yes. And we have a number of testimonies to that fact, some of which will appear here in the days to come. For others, the requirement for evidence of true transformation of values, ethics, character, and behavior was more than they wanted to do. (We sought to produce fruit, not simply retain people in a program and use them in a work program to generate financial support.) Since recovery is a voluntary choice, the door was always open for women to exit who did not want what we offered. And I am sure under the newly changed PCRM program, that will continue to be the case. I wish PCRM the very best. The need in our area is great and there is more than enough need for all who wish to engage in recovery efforts- Christian or secular, free or insurance-reimbursed, coed or single-gender- to stay busy all the time. We are in the midst of an epidemic of addictions of all kinds. People need hope that there is a way out of the pit in which some find themselves. Families are being destroyed all around us and our high rate of foster care in Bay County is a testimony to that reality. I am glad so many options exist in our community for them to find that hope and needed support. The women’s Christian recovery ministry that we will continue under an independent organization will be small, it will be structured, it will be intensely transformational with a strong mentoring component, and will offer extra emphasis on aftercare and transition to work. It will also be low in financial investment and high in personal relationship investment. It will be about “life recovery”. And in the end, all of us together will reach more people. Isn’t this the way many Christian endeavors have been born for centuries? People find that they have different ways of interpreting and following their call to spread the Gospel and they part ways, multiplying the reach and with the diversity that gives even more people the opportunity to find hope in Christ.