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.

http://www.newsherald.com/news/former-pc-rescue-mission-director-joins-walton-mission-1.312125

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……

byrd

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.

Why numbers matter…Part 1, private money

One of the questions we often get asked here at the MTM blog is “why is there such an emphasis by PCRM management and board of directors to expand the number of people whom they service way past what are community norms?” The simple answer is “money”. From an outsiders perspective, it would make sense to create local fundraising that generates revenues from our community that then serves the local needy. But to those who are unfamiliar with the workings of many non-profits and organizations that offer charitable services, it is an important foundation to understand that fundraising is big business with literally billions of dollars each year being shuffled around to the most high profile organizations that can establish the most “need”.  Below is a screen shot from the website of Foster Associates who operate “Capital for Compassion”. (http://www.capitalforcompassion.com)

4040

Foster and Associates are just one one multiple companies that have found financial opportunities to collect commissions by offering technical advice to non-profits. This advice is in the form of helping individual organizations create a higher perception of “need” therefore establishing themselves to be more relevant and deserving of grant dollars. This company alone during the year of 2010 bragged of participating in over $62,000,000.00 in awarded grants. From their own website under the “services” tab: (http://www.capitalforcompassion.com/services/)

Fund Sourcing: Unlike many other companies, we are not fundraisers. We do not make pitches to multiple sources, or appeals to individuals. Instead, we work with a select group of private financial institutions that grant forgivable loans. Because Foster Development has earned the trust of a select group of financial institutions that have designated resources for compassion, we are able to bring our clients’ needs directly to those who can fund them.

Proposal Creation: Because we represent private money, managed by professional financial institutions, it is essential that the proposal be strong and clear. We articulate our clients’ narrative, needs, and financial information into the appropriate format that the funding sources require to determine whether the proposal is a worthwhile investment of their resources.

Fully Managed Funding Source: Foster Development not only prepares the proposal, but continues to administrate the grant beyond funding. This  includes construction reporting, disbursement of funds, project completion reporting, completion auditing, and developing a template for annual reporting.

Funder Relationship: Six figure grants require three things: 1) a good story to to tell, 2) telling it well, and 3) a receptive audience. For years, Foster Development has established and actively maintained positive relationships with the personnel at each of its funding sources. We understand how they think, and what they find compelling when evaluating proposals.

Expertise: The proposal process entails an exhaustive financial analysis, and is unlike any other grant process, with a steep learning curve and cryptic terminology. The single most important difference between organizations that get funded from those that do not is a compelling (and truthful) narrative, told in the funder’s language. It takes skill and experience to craft this type of story.  For example, the first grant that Foster Development obtained was for $482,000, but later we learned that we could have gotten $702,000 for that project if our proposal had been a bit stronger. Since then, we have obtained over $93 million from our sources for our clients. Along the way, our team has developed the ability to maximize awards and net more dollars to a project (even after our fees), than clients would if they pursued funds on their own.

Organizational Analysis: Since our funders are financial institutions, they look at grant proposal with the same scrutiny that they would evaluate a loan application. Oftentimes, improvements in leadership systems, financial controls, and board management are a prerequisite to tendering a proposal.

So the question becomes, “where does all this money come from?”. The Federal Home loans bank system (http://www.fhlbanks.com/) was created by congress in 1932 as a “government-sponsered” bank system that provide stable, on-demand, low-cost funding to American financial institutions (not individuals) for home Mortgage loans, small business, rural, agricultural, and economic development lending. With their members, the FHLBanks represents the largest collective source of home mortgage and community credit in the United Sates. As part of of the congressional charter, the system contributes 10% of their net income to affordable housing through the “Affordable housing program” (AHP). This competitive grant program is the largest source of private sector grants for housing and community development. Since 1990, the system has distributed over 4.83 billion ($4,300,000,000.00)

The dollars awarded each year are significant and the  challenge for organizations around the country is to somehow rise to the top of the list in a way that makes them most eligible. One key way of doing this is creating an dynamic where there are artificially larger numbers. When a nationally known expert comes to Panama City and professes that we as a community have a homeless problem that is “ten fold” what it should be by population, the mindset of those running the mission is that this is a good thing. Significant numbers with multiple outlets and programs, implies a “need” making the ability to tap into large grants that much easier. This is also the same reason why the PCRM management have been so reluctant to participate with other local organizations with the development of the Bay Area Resource center. Having outside involvement from other organizations dilutes the pot of money. The fact that other agencies and organizations have unique skill sets and resources that when working in conjunction together would give an enhanced program for our communities needy becomes secondary to the discussion .

Larger and larger numbers allows the PCRM to tap into larger revenue sources which supports bloated payrolls.

What is really happening behind closed doors at the mission…

Our blog was created almost two years ago to give voice to the issues of the PCRM and its effect on our downtown community. Those of us who live and work downtown take pride in our city and the potential it has as a wonderful place to raise our children, dine, shop and grow small businesses. We as local citizens realize the need to help others and take personal responsibility for helping out those less fortunate in our community but feel that there are ways to do that that are both uplifting to those in need while respectful of the community at large. When addressing the needs of the homeless a quick snapshot of the messages being issued by the Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries would, on the surface without much additional research, leave one with the impression that the  PCRM was a viable and well respect organization with a well planned strategy to service the needs of the community. Those of us who post on our blog each fell for this story until we started doing the research and looking at all the facts. Much of this data has been compiled into our over 160 online post. Over the past two years we have received literally thousands of email (movethemission@yahoo.com) some being very critical of our efforts, some being very supportive of the PCRM. We have received personal stories of the ill effects that the PCRM has had on our neighbors. We often receive tips about specific pieces of information that we should do more research on the paint a more accurate picture of what the rescue mission is doing. Traditionally this information is taken, more research done, data verified and then formed into a post. Today we received an email from a reader that was so compelling that we felt it was appropriate to post it in its entirety. This is from a former employee of the PCRM:

Dear Readers,
I am a former employee of PCRM and was terminated last week for speaking out against bad leadership, personal agenda’s, political infighting, and abuses done to students in the name of a recovery program and Godly ministry.On Friday, October 25th I was called into Mr Chambers office and questioned about disclosing to a former employee that her friend and current employee, ********, was the subject of formal complaints, by licensed clinical social workers, employed by the Federal Government. These complaints are about Mr. ***** lack of professional conduct, lack of education, lack of training and experience to do the work that he is doing. Mr. ***** is currently a case manager for the support center, work program and transitional programs. One of the social workers, whom I have worked with for years, came to my office two weeks ago and stated that “when I come to the mission to see a client, I try to avoid him; he has no skills, does not know about community resources or how to access them and has no professional education.” Her associate, whom I have also worked with, quite successfully, admonished me to get away from the mission before it (the mission) messed up my reputation as a legitimate professional and hurt my chances at licensure. I had to agree with the logic of that statement and have been seeking employment elsewhere. Part of the problem is that no-one, with the exception of Cathy Byrd, Kathleen Duval, and myself have any graduate education, formal degrees in these fields, or any clinical training. The case managers (with the exception of me) have all been former students with a couple of years clean and no education or training. Consequently everyone of them have relapsed on drugs and alcohol. The lasts was my co-worker who disappeared from work in August for three days to go smoke crack. He had to be drug tested, by myself when he returned, and he tested positive for cocaine. He was subsequently terminated. This is who is providing recovery service for the students in the program. This is also another reason that I was terminated, for speaking out against staff members with no training, no education, and no abilities being allowed to make case management decisions that were very bad for the students. The most recent debacle was when Ken Owens, the financial officer, approved a two week pass for a client and did not even consult me, the students case manager. He sent me an email notifying me that it had been done. This is part of the constant power struggle mentality that permeates the mission. I voiced my objection to mr chambers and he simply placated me with the statement, “we’ll get this going in the right direction soon.” He did agree that it was a “bad decision”. This objection was the beginning of my demise at the mission. The final straw was my complaints about ******* conduct and my complaints about working students 7 days a week, often more, with no days off, not having reputable teachers for classes, not having consistent recovery related structure. Make no mistake, the “recovery program” is really nothing more than a work program with a few chapel services and “classes” thrown in. None of the staff currently at the mission, now that I am gone have any formal addiction recovery education or training. Ken Owens, the man writing the checks has been an alcoholic until completing the program 3 years ago. He at least holds an MD, but lost his practice due to his alcohol use. Finally, make no mistake, mr chambers is a business shark who sole intention is to return the mission’s multi-million dollar budget to it’s past status. He is not in any way trained in addiction or spiritual recovery. His experience that he lauds so loudly has been purely business related.Finally, the mission states that it serves how many? There are currently 26 men students who eat 3 times a day and perhaps that many outside guests who are allowed to eat dinner meal. The mission currently only houses 10 overnight male guests (sleeping on floor in dining room with blankets, no mats) due to recent fire regulations. They serve no where near the meals or other services that they state. Each and every day the men students assigned go around to local Publix and other stores and gather pastries and bread items and bring them back to the mission. EVERY SINGLE DAY THE SAME STUDENTS ARE ASKED TO LOAD THE DUMPSTER WITH GARBAGE BAGS THAT ARE FULL OF BREAD ITEMS THAT HAVE GOTTON OLD. They can’t even use what they collect. They also have 3 separate storage pods on the campus full of canned food and other dry goods that are moldering and they keep collecting more. In addition to taking $200.00 in food stamps (current allotment for homeless persons) from EVERY student in the program, what more do they need?I could no longer stomach the deplorable activities or the abuses of the men students or the deceptions be perpetrated on the community and the local churches who believe they are supporting a reputable cause. It stopped being that prior to 2001 when chambers was removed the first time.

 

  1. Ron Aleen

    /  November 8, 2013  /  Edit

    Recue Mission Support Gay Couples
    As a former employee of the Rescue Mission what I am writing about is first hand. The subjects mention in the above letter M___ ______and Ken Owens have an on going relationship. The couple eat together, live together, vacation together and who knows what else together.
    Ken Owens is no stranger to special relationship with former students, or x students who didn’t finish the program. One student was asked to live the program when he complained about where Ken placed his hand. The student left the program and a bus ticket purchased for him.
    Former graduate of the program had an on and off relationship with Ken Owens. Ken crossed the line as a staff member by an on going in home relationship with this guy.The end result, The guy, help his self to the rent money, a car that Ken had, (which the Mission provided). The drama continued, The guy, is now a father from his raping a fourteen year old girl.(He’s thirty something) Ken is still fixed on this guy, that the child’s picture is his screen saver. What happen to the guy? In a prison in another state All this, in 14 months.
    Ken Owens is now not only in charge of the financials of the mission, but is in charge of the male students of the mission.
    Mr. Chambers needs to get his head out of the closet. Open his eyes and start asking questions. Look at who is still at the mission and should be gone. Who he has gave a lot power too! The preaching will be about Adam and Steve in the chapel, Churches and Donors Beware ask guestions before you write that check.

  2. D. Williams

    /  November 25, 2013  /  Edit

    Dear Readers,
    At the end of October my wife purchased a gas dryer from the Mission thrift store on east 11th St.. It was a (as is sale). I installed the dryer, it worked. A while later we had a strong gas Oder in the house, I shut the gas to the dryer off and checked the connections, and my installation of the dryer. The next day I had someone check the dryer out and I was told the dryer should of never been sold to us.
    My wife went in twice, and she go told by the man that sold the dryer to her, that it was sold as is. I then went into the store and was told by the man working the day I went in that they did not sale any type of gas appliances, one reason was given was that they have no way of checking them out.
    I e-mail Rev. Chambers, and got no response from him. Instead I got an e-mail from a guy name Bill, who in return referred me to another guy name Rick. I Found out that Rick is the one to informed me that they do not sell gas appliances. I have done business with Rick in the past, so I called him and set a time. I canceled the appointment from advise, to seek an Attorney’s advise.
    My wife and I have gone in, as my Attorney has, to check and see if any other gas appliance are for sell. Today my wife was in there around 1 pm, (11/25) and the man that sold her the dryer was at the register. He was in the register, took money out and put it in his wallet. My wife approached him and asked him if that what he did with the money from the sale of the dryer, He looked right at her and smiled and stated he had know idea what she was talking about. She was basically called a liar. if you post this or not, I at least got this off my chest. Thank you for that.
    David Williams

  3. Vincent

    /  January 11, 2014  /  Edit

    Dear Readers, please take heart that your voices are being heard. I met recently with a group of people who have been in discussion over some of these events, and others that have come to light, since Mr. Chambers took the helm at the mission. Some of the people, who must remain nameless at this time, include local clergy, lawmakers, law enforcement, and business owners. There are deeper scandals brewing at the mission and there will be, within the next few months, more revelations coming forth about the activities of the above named individuals and more. During my tenure as case manager at the mission, I was able to develop some relationships with individuals who are still willing and able to provide me with updates about what is happening behind closed doors at the mission. As a Christian I can assure you that what is done in secret will come to light, and when you perpetrate the kind of behaviors that are currently going on at the mission, under the guise of a Christian ministry, it will be revealed.

    Ken Owens and Mike Adams do indeed live together and it is true that Ken is alleged to have been engaging in questionable activities with the male students for some time. One of the mission provided vehicles in Ken’s possession was apparently stolen by a former student that Ken allegedly had dealings with and Ken’s email at the mission is also in the name of a former student. I questioned this email discrepancy prior to leaving the mission when I discovered that the header on Ken’s internal emails showed up as a students name, instead of Ken Owens. I asked Ken if I had the right email and he explained that it was a former students name who he was “close” to. I began saving all documentation from that day on as it was obvious to me that there were some very questionable relationships being sought by Mr. Owens.

    As far as Rick Reynolds at the Production center and the sale of donations, he has been directed by the former and current administration to sell, sell, sell. They are not concerned with anything other than generating revenue, regardless of how they do it; particularly any ethical restraints that should be in place in an organization that uses Christian ministry as a front. The gentleman who is reported to have been taking money from the till at the production center is most likely a student who has graduated to the level of intern, not a mission employee. There has long been speculation about the theft of funds from the production center but nothing has ever been pursued. The reason being that this is tantamount to stealing from the donors who have given the items to the mission and the publicity over such a scandal is more than the powers that be are willing to endure. Another in a long list of dollars and cents motivations from an organization that is supposed to serve the least, the last, and the lost.

Rescue Mission operation one half million dollars in debt

WJHG news coverage article:

Most charities struggle with finances but the new Executive Director of the Panama City Rescue Mission says things are really tough. As anyone that follows this blog, the reasons for the “tough finances” are very clear. After years and years of mismanagement on the part of Fox and the board of directors and the continued ignoring of the complaints of how operations were being handled, the donating community has taken things in their own hands and made the checks for their charitable dollars to other organizations that operate in an honest and forthright fashion.

Donations dropped off significantly after the Mission Board parted ways with former billy fox last month, and now the organization is now half a million dollarsin debt. More accurately is that the donations were significantly down before Fox terminated playing a major role in his dismissal.

Thurman Chambers has been on the job just 3 weeks, but he’s already facing what he calls the biggest challenge of his career.

When he took over the Panama City Rescue Mission, he also inherited a mountain debt. Debt is just one of multiple problems he has inherited. Unfortunately for Mr. chambers a former director and former president of the board ransacked the organization in a way that quite frankly will be a significant challenge  to overcome in order for it to survive. Mr. Chambers may be well served to offer an olive branch to other organizations who were participants in the planning of the bay area resource center and find ways for the PCRM to stay relevant as a provider of services to our community.

Panama City Rescue Mission Executive Director Thurman Chambers elaborates, saying, “[I] never followed one that, you know, there was a problem or happening within the organization so it’s taken a little adjustment.”

The Rescue Mission serves about 150 homeless people during the average summer day.

But it’s about to get busier.

The numbers increase in the winter to 200 a day.

Chambers is worried about handling that increase, when the Mission is about half a million dollars in debt.

“We’re behind in some of our payments, and our accounts payable, that sort of thing. That’s going to help us get caught up so to speak. We’re in the negatives right now so we gotta get the ship right.”

Chambers is still trying to figure out why donations are down. Mr. Chambers seems to be an intelligent individual and I am quite sure he is aware of the cause. It is the elephant in the room that local media is scared to death to discuss.

He isn’t sure if it’s because of the change of leadership, or the on going debate over the Mission’s plans to expand Bethel Village for women and children. Or the more obvious answer that our community has just tired of how the mission has run their operation, ignored the pleas to lower their profile on our downtown community and the always present confrontational tone that the previous director and president board took would talking of the mission and where they fit into the community. These individuals spoke as though THEY owned the mission and its assets when in fact the donating community owns the rescue mission. Note where both of those individuals are now, nowhere to be seen but leaving a legacy of problems for someone else to clean up. This is what happens when an organization loses its way. This is what happens when individuals become greedy and begin to take actions outside the principles by which the organization was founded. 

“You know for the last two years, it’s been really, really slow for them.”

Whatever the reason, Chambers is asking for help.

He sent a letter to local churches and media soliciting more donations from residents during the holiday season.

The organization historically receives most of its donations during the last 3 months of the year.

Apparently the request is working.

Chambers says he’s already received calls from local Pastors, wanting to help

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Panama-City-Rescue-Mission-Asking-for-Help-229313561.html

Turmoil still imbedded at the PCRM

Recent days have seen the termination of Billy Fox as Director of the PCRM (currently operating as “Pathways Christian Recovery Mission” but soon back to the banner of “Panama City Rescue Mission” according to sources). With this change at the helm of day to day operations, the opportunity is there for the organization to return to being an organization that truly provides needed services for those in our community who need help but do so in a way that compliments our city, is respectful of our donation dollars and operates as good community neighbors. Although Mr. Fox was a key component in the direction and actions taken by the PCRM, keep in mind an organization that operates with multi-million dollar budgets and a less than transparent way regarding finances, there is often the opportunity for other encampments of deceit to take hold, leveraging assets and using funds to finance pet projects outside the main focus and direction of the organizations charter and so is the case with the PCRM. Mr. Thurman Chambers has taken the position of Director of the PCRM as of the first part of October but his arrival did not come without some soul searching on his part as to his ability to be effective in his leading role at the PCRM.

thurman chambers

THURMAN CHAMBERS

During a meeting on October 11th Mr. Chambers expressed great hesitation on his part to again participate with the PCRM as his “hands were being handcuffed by the board of directors” and specifically Rev Henry Hazard. Rev. Hazard as the president of the board of directors of the PCRM was the one who terminated Billy Fox due in large part to his inability to maintain and increase donation dollars into the organization. With revenues drastically down as our community has been able to see the PCRM more clearly and the problems associated with it, Billy Fox became a liability and unable to justify his and his wife’s salaries.

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Rev. Henry Hazard

It would seem there has been several power struggles within the walls of the PCRM upon Billy Fox’s removal. Hazard as previously noted was instrumental in Fox’s removal but Hazard himself offered his resignation to the board on October 21st. One can speculate that either Mr Chambers has uncovered enough information that puts further blemishes on the organization or other more responsible board members have come to their senses and have seen Rev. Hazard himself as a further handicap to the organization and have seized the reins to bring the organization back into being a respectable organization.

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Rev. Cathy Byrd

But the power struggles are not limited to board members and director, key operational employees too have been hustling for position. The PCRM offers a variety of different programs in attempts to service different needs. Rev. Cathy Byrd who heads the womens programs has taken a confrontational and aggressive position against Rev. Joe Atkinson who heads the men’s programs. Apparently she has been successful in her efforts to remove him as he is no longer listed on the PCRM website directory.  In this official “Pathways Recovery Ministries” video notice the one thing missing almost completely from this video.  This the exception of just a few quick snippets there are no mentions of the Men’s program activities. This is quite by design.

https://vimeo.com/76039928

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Rev. Joe Atkinson

On Wed. October 2 the Mission held it’s monthly graduation ceremony at 609 Allen location. Noticibly absent from this graduation, unlike any previous awards programs, was any women from the Bethel program and none of the woman staff with the exception of Cathy Byrd, who consequently came to run the show because she saw yet another opportunity to publicly emasculate Reverend Atkinson who usually officiates at graduation. When one of the men students who was graduating asked why the women were not in attendance, Rev Cathy Byrd said that they were unable to attend due to having to work to get the new Bethel location up and running. As it turns out they were not in fact working to get the new location running, Cathy Byrd had held a private, separate graduation ceremony on September 25, 2013 at New Bethel for the women graduates (this has never been done before). No men were invited or even told about this change. In fact they were lied to. This is  tactic used by Cathy Byrd to separate her ministry from the rest of Pathways and exercise her need for control.

But past the basic issues of “power” is the one that “power=money”. The PCRM operates with hundreds of thousands of dollars each year with little to no public disclosure as to how funds are being used.  Within days of Mr. Fox’s removal due in large part to his inability  to maintain revenues and the organization reaching a  point of financial crisis, the PCRM conducted a book signing by author River Jordan coordinated by the director of development. This event was put together as warm and fuzzy feel good event but used PCRM donation dollars to pay for expenses. Here is the email offered by the director after the event:

Dear All,
Wow, what a day! The Lord is SO good. Good to us all!
It was a day filled with excitement and newness and togetherness and cooperation and messages and truth and love!
River Jordan was extraordinary! She was so refreshing! She made me laugh! Yet her message was so simple, so real. We are blessed to have her as our friend. She loves people, God, and our little mission with it’s big heart!

I want to thank everyone. I mean everyone for having a hand in this fun and hopefully financially successful event.
Pastor hazard and all the BODs, thank you for your support especially over the last few weeks. Sometimes we overlook the difficult decisions you have to make for the best of all concerned. Especially thanks to Henry, Michelle, and Cathy for attending. It meant a lot to us.
Taylor, Regina, and Sabrina, thank you for all that you do daily but thank you for so much help you give me. You help me perform my job better and I am proud to work with you.
Cathy and Bill, thank you for accomplishing all that you do without hesitation. The video was wonderful! I know it was time consuming and last minute. Cathy, thank you for your part today in delivering the needed information to our guests. It was eloquent and direct. Thank you also for moving around schedules for the ladies so that many students and staff could attend. I hope they enjoyed being there as much as I enjoyed them being there! Please relay to all of them my thanks for lending a hand and smile!
*Ken, thank you to you, Chris and Beth for juggling funds to pay for this event. Although it may not show immediate results, I pray this type of event still proves to be worthwhile as it provides valuable first hand understanding to so many. Thank you also to you and Rick and Mike for helping provide the men students and staff. I, again, was pleased they could be apart of these very special occasions! Please tell them all many thanks.
Michael Sexton, thank you for your calming, take control attitude in getting things done. I appreciate you. Brother Joe, you were missed but I have a book for you!
My apologies to the many of us that went without lunch! We had an unexpected number of at the door guests. I will make it up somehow!!!!! Just one question to those who did eat…was the soup good? Sure hated missing that!!!! :o)
Thank you to all that weren’t there as they were holding down the fort!! If I missed thanking someone it is not intentional. Just tired!!! And if so, I am sure it will hit me in the middle of the night!!!

All in all, a good day! See you in the morning and get some rest. Good night and I am praying for you!!!

Did you catch the reference and thanks to Mr. Ken Owens? ” Thanks for juggling funds to pay for this event”? Seriously, this is how your donation dollars are being spent. They are being “juggled” to serve the personal agendas of employees  of a charitable organization who don’t have to answer to anyone. The PCRM is one half million dollars in debt with past due payments to vendors that provide resources to service those in need while moneys are being juggled around to pay for an authors appearance at a luncheon event. This is continuation of the mindset that has found the mission where they are today, apparently out of money and out of favor with the community who they ask donation dollars from.

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Ken Owens, Finance & Operations

Which takes us to Mr. Owens. The man with the check book. As the PCRM has methodically hidden from our community the facts about where money comes from  (yes, they used tax payer funds through third party sources) to how those funds are being used, it is often hard to pin point indiscretions.  Information from a variety of sources have left impressions that finances are as not being handled as respectful as they should be.  We here at MTM have committed to be as forthright and accurate in our reporting, not posting information that is not verified but we will go on record as saying information is mounting that paint a much less pleasant picture of the financial books  of the PCRM.

Our hopes are that Mr. Chambers has taken his role with the PCRM with a degree of seriousness to address real issues. The PCRM has the ability to be one party in conjunction with other organizations to offer solutions to our community. None of this will happen until top to bottom, board of directors, directors and staff set the appropriate tone and conduct themselves in a way that honors the charitable and giving  nature that our community offers.

The News Herald editorializes on Fox’s termination

Replacing the Rev. Billy Fox as its executive director isn’t the first change the Panama City Rescue Mission has made recently, and it likely won’t be the last.
But it’s easily the most visible.
The mission’s Board of Directors did not publicly give a reason why Fox is leaving after eight years, nor did officials say who initiated the move. This alone should be a cause for great scrutiny. Removal of an executive director and his spouse without any public explanation and without an interim or permanent replacement in place is a well defined red flag that problems have been in play for some time. To quote Rev Henry Hazard, President of the board of directors of the PCRM “we have an understanding that he’s not to tell everything about us and we’re not to tell everything about him” There’s no question, though, that Fox had become a lightning rod for the mission, the face of its disputes with Panama City over feeding the homeless downtown and with Springfield in building a women-only shelter.
Several Not “several” . Several is to imply a minority. “Most” is the accurate word to be used in this sentence.  Panama City leaders and downtown business owners along with data provided by both the Sheriffs department and the Panama city police department blamed the mission’s policies for attracting vagrants from outside the community and accused them of loitering, panhandling, urinating and defecating on businesses’ private property, and generally scaring away the public. City officials and most people who live , work and love our downtown area saw them as an obstacle to revitalizing the downtown commercial corridor.
When Mayor Greg Brudnicki came into office in 2011, he made addressing the downtown homeless problem a priority. He appointed a task force to study the issue and propose solutions. At the top of the list was creating a Community Resource Center off Star Avenue that would be a one-stop shop of services for the homeless. The city hoped to entice the Rescue Mission to partner with the center and move from downtown.
The mission — a private entity that owns its property on Allen Avenue and receives no direct government funding  Oh boy…The news herald has become like an addicted alcoholic falling into Fox’s delicate, diversionary use of words. Note how convenient it is to slip un the word “direct” in this sentence to imply that they use NO government funding. The reality is there is significant dollars that roll through the coffers of the PCRM that are tax payer dollars.   — balked at that idea, sending the city back to square one.  This of course AFTER the PCRM board gave positive indications that they WERE interested in participating, moving the city to then make public announcements believing in good faith that the PCRM was on board then at the last minute Fox’s announces that they are NOT on board and never intended to be on board putting egg on the face of public officals.
The mission also drew opposition from Springfield officials and residents to its plan to expand its Bethel House Home for Women and Children, an addiction recovery program. Critics cited concerns about attracting the kind of crime that plagued downtown Panama City. In May, city commissioners approved a six-month moratorium restricting homeless shelters from opening within city limits.
Such high-profile opposition can create headaches for a non-profit that relies on donations for most of its funding. It is not the “opposition” that is creating the headaches. It is the actions and operating philosophies of an organization that systematically has ignored our communities cries to not create a toxic atmosphere in our neighborhood. 
You can’t blame Fox for all this, as he didn’t have dictatorial power. Actually, this is a bit off target. Although the PCRM, as are most non-profits, is to operate off a balance of power between a volunteer board and an executive director, as anyone that has spent time with non-profits will know, there is often a power shift where an executive director garnishes too much power away from the board who find themselves as a “puppet board” giving carte blanche approval to whatever the director wants to do. With big time money rolling in the front doors, Fox could leverage his position in a way that benefitted him.  As he overplayed his hand and public outrage became more pronounced. Donation dollars started drying up significantly.  With less money, newer (more reasonable) board members and the promise of an alternative facility that could easily provide the same services, Fox found himself too many steps away from the herd and became dispensable. Clearly, though, mission officials late last year recognized that a change in strategy was necessary. In early January, the mission announced it was curtailing services for the “habitual, chronic homeless” — those primarily fingered as contributing to the downtown problems. The mission’s website cites “political pressures from Panama City’s Council and downtown merchants” for the move. Instead, the mission decided to focus more on treating addictions that contribute to homelessness.
Later, the mission changed its name to Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries and created a new logo. The organization obviously is seeking to present a fresh image to the public, and either the Board of Directors or Fox — or both — realized that wouldn’t be complete without a new director. Another deceitful move. Note that the name change kept the old abbreviation, “PCRM”. Fox wanted to play both sides of the fence. When in the company of those who were supporters, it was convenient  to be called the “PCRM” to give the discussion the tone of a long term, well established beacon in the community. When it was less convenient to be the “Panama City Rescue Mission”, “Oh hey, thats not us we are the Pathways Christian recovery Ministries”. 
Ironically, Fox and the mission haven’t been in the news much lately. No thanks to local media outlets, such as the News Herald, that have been nothing more than a public relations firm for the PCRM.The public conflicts of 2011-12 have faded. Statistics indicate crime has declined downtown since the mission changed its policies. That’s progress. There has been a lot of pressure to move the mission to solve problems, but a makeover might suffice. But “suffice” will probably not do. A clean slate is needed. The damage to the 6th street corridor is extensive and the bleed over into downtown, the cove residential area and areas around the Sacred Heart hospital has left its impact. This is a direct result of the rescue mission. Slapping a coat of paint isnt “fixing” the problem. 

Billy Fox and wife terminated from leadership roles of Rescue Mission

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The Panama City Rescue Mission is making some big changes.

Rev. Billy Fox is no longer the executive director. His wife Carol, is also no longer with the organization.

The board President, Rev. Henry Hazard says the mission is going to focus on addiction recovery and with that they need a change in leadership. Hazard says Fox did a good job there and the change has nothing to do with his performance.

The women and children are also going to be moved to a different facility in just a few weeks.

http://www.wmbb.com/story/23485844/rescue-mission-leaders-let-go-organization-changing-focus

From WMBB news department updated:

Reverend Billy Fox, is no longer the Executive Director for the Panama City Rescue Mission, the first of many changes that the mission is making.

His wife Carol Fox has also left the mission. Fox made no comment about the release.

President of the Rescue Missions Executive Board, Henry Hazard, says this decision was mutual.

“Billy Fox was an excellent Executive Director and will certainly have effective ministries where ever he goes,” said Hazard. “The board of directors has decided that it is time to move on and that is a direction which we are taking. We find that because of the foundation that Billy Fox gave us, we are able to do some changing.”

Nationwide, the number of women and children that are seeking help from the mission is rising.  Locally, they are taking steps to make sure they have enough space to house them.

They will open a new Bethel Village for women and children only, on 11th street in Panama City. The projected opening date is October 4th.

They will spend the next couple of days moving in and fixing up the old Restoration House.

The shelter for men will still be located downtown.

Along with feeding and providing emergency shelter to the homeless, the mission has looked into what they can do to help the community on a greater level.

They are shifting their focus to provide more substantial help to those with substance addictions.. Like on drugs and alcohol.

“Some of them maybe have made poor choices, but most of them are having problems with whether it is alcohol or prescriptions drugs or illegal drugs, they are having these addiction problems,” said Hazard. “Just trying to talk to them and do nice things and feed them then put them back on the street has solved nothing they are just going to continue on.”

Rev. Hazard says they have already started the process of filling the empty Executive Director position. He thinks that the board will have that decision ready to go in about a month.

http://www.wmbb.com/story/23490406/rev-billy-fox-no-longer-director-of-rescue-mission

From WJHG news department:

Billy Fox is out as the Executive Director of the Panama City Rescue Mission.

The move came during Thursday night’s Mission Board of Director’smeeting, but apparently the board’s been debating it for at least 2 years.

Board Members say this is the first step in a series of sweeping changes.

Panama City Rescue Mission Board Members won’t get into specifics about why they’re parting ways with executive director billy fox.

But after 8 years on the job, Fox will be leaving.

Rescue Mission Board President Reverend Henry Hazard says, “There were several reasons, and I would rather not go into that because we have an understanding that he’s not to tell everything about us and we’re not to tell everything about him but it was nothing immoral.” 

Hazard did say the board members had become weary of what he called a lot of negative media attention.

Much of that attention seemed to come from downtown residents and business owners, who claimed vagrants and the homeless were running people away from the downtown area.

Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki says, “We had a lot of truancy and a lot of calls – police calls – to the rescue mission over the years because there was a lot of incorrigible people mixed in with the truly homeless people looking for a home.”

City officials toughened the city’s panhandling laws, which helped with some of the problems; and they explored a number of options, including building a new homeless shelter out of the downtown area, but Fox refused to seriously consider relocating.

Brudnicki insists the city did not play a role in Fox’s departure, saying, “Absolutely not, I’m just as surprised as you and everyone else. I had no idea.”

Fox also fought a long legal battle with Springfield to expand the Bethel Village for women.

Despite the very public struggles, Hazard says Fox helped build the foundation for the Mission’s future.

Hazard says, “He’s got himself exhausted doing what he can to develop the rescue mission. There was no fault on his part in my opinion.”

Fox declined to comment.

The Rescue Mission has already removed his biography from it’s website.

Hazard says they hopes to have new Mission Director in a month.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Rescue-Mission-Says-Goodbye-to-Billy-Fox-224641981.ht

From the News herald

The Rev. Billy Fox and the Panama City Rescue Mission have parted ways.

Fox and his wife, Carol, directed the Rescue Mission’s operations for eight years before Thursday’s decision.

The Rev. Henry Hazard, pastor of Heritage Bible Church and president of the Rescue Mission’s board of directors, would not say Friday who initiated the separation.

“In an attempt to serve the hurting people in our community better, the Rescue Mission is changing,” Hazard said. “This change includes a change in leadership and its emphasis.”

The new emphasis of the Rescue Mission, which transitioned to Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries earlier this year, includes a stronger focus on addiction recovery.

Fox said he could not comment on the matter due to an agreement.

An executive committee, consisting of the top five ranking board members, will oversee the mission’s operations until Fox’s replacement is named.

The Rev. Billy Fox and the Panama City Rescue Mission have parted ways.

Fox and his wife, Carol, directed the Rescue Mission’s operations for eight years before Thursday’s decision.

The Rev. Henry Hazard, pastor of Heritage Bible Church and president of the Rescue Mission’s board of directors, would not say Friday who initiated the separation.

“In an attempt to serve the hurting people in our community better, the Rescue Mission is changing,” Hazard said. “This change includes a change in leadership and its emphasis.”

The new emphasis of the Rescue Mission, which transitioned to Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries earlier this year, includes a stronger focus on addiction recovery.

Fox said he could not comment on the matter due to an agreement.

An executive committee, consisting of the top five ranking board members, will oversee the mission’s operations until Fox’s replacement is named.

The mission’s shift to focus on addiction recovery is because much of the homelessness is caused by addiction to alcohol, narcotics or prescription drugs. Many of those are war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“If they’re married, they come home from war and they’re a different person,” Hazard said. “Sometimes there are anger issues and other things that need to be dealt with; the spouse says, ‘I can’t take this,’ and then the person is out on the streets and resorting to alcohol or other drugs.”

Hazard announced the mission will be consolidating its women ministries Oct. 5 to the former site of the Restoration House on 11th Street. The facility will fulfill what the Rescue Mission attempted to do with Bethel Village in Springfield by housing solely homeless women with children and women with substance abuse issues. Three or four of the facility’s units will be reserved for women with children.

“If they do the same things as the Restoration House but helping women, it shouldn’t be a problem for the city,” Brudnicki said. “If it fixes people, great.”

The downtown facility will be reserved for men only, offering work and rehabilitation programs, Hazard said, but due to fire safety restrictions the capacity of the shelter will be reduced greatly.

“It’s not by our choice; these things have to happen,” Hazard said. “It breaks our hearts because homeless people hurt. Many have mental issues health issues and who is going to take care of them?

“But we can try,” he added. “But with more people becoming indigent and with the economy … it’s not getting better.”

http://www.newsherald.com/news/rescue-mission-looking-for-new-leader-1.206092?page=2al

Homelessness in Florida Drops Across the State

Florida– The Department of Children and Families say they’re seeing positive trends in the state’s homeless problem.

The state uses the annual 24 hours counting event known as the point in time, to determine the total number of homeless people on the streets or in shelters.

The information helps determine the county’s state and federal funding levels for homeless programs.

The most recent point in time count took place at the end of January.

Volunteers with the Homeless and Hunger Coalition of Northwest Florida spend the 24 hour period canvassing areas where the homeless are known to congregate and record their information.

This year’s results show the homeless population in Bay County to be about the same as last ear, but significantly less than 2011, which was the peak of the homeless local problem.

The state numbers are very positive.

The homeless rate was down by 10,000 people this year and the overall number is down 25% since 2007.

While the findings are optimistic, the report also found too many children, families and US veterans remain homeless.

source: http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Homelessness-in-Florida-Drops-Across-the-State-215591841.html