CRM was established by a group of Christian businessmen who saw a need to help alcoholics in the Jacksonville area. Their goal was to offer “soup, soap and salvation.” The original mission has evolved into a privately-funded organization whose mission is to serve the homeless and needy through the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
The Mission was incorporated. Mr. George Sage was named Superintendent and remained until 1964. CRM was located at 801½ Main Street in a little storefront building. The two-story building was host to an upstairs dorm and a chapel below. CRM was only able to provide care to homeless men. Christian ministry to mankind was the goal.
CRM moved to its second location, the Ritz Woller Apartments, located at 700 Laura Street. The building was erected around 1907, after the Great Fire of 1901 in downtown Jacksonville. Although it was in great disrepair, the three-story building had more space, which allowed CRM to help more homeless men. The second floor held about 30 beds. Chapel services and hot meals were served daily, and clothing was given to those in need.
CRM’s Board of Directors elected Don Moody to the position of Superintendent. Mr. Sage continued working at CRM by running the Mission’s Bargain Store, which was also located at the 700 Laura Street shelter facility. CRM was in debt, and the facility was close to being totally dilapidated. Mr. Moody and his family moved into the building, and his first months on the job were filled with manual labor as he devoted himself to repairing it. Since the Mission received only $9,500 in donations in 1964, Mr. Moody’s main goal was fundraising.
Donations increased to $14,000.
Donations totaled $28,000.
CRM began assisting women in need. Lanida Bryant started the women’s program in a nearby two-story building that CRM rented to house about 10 – 12 women.
In December, Mr. Moody left the position of Superintendent, and the Rev. Kaleel Ellison became the Interim Superintendent. Rev. Ellison had served on the CRM Board of Directors and was Chairman for four years.
The Rev. Hampton Eggerton left the position of Superintendent and returned to the pastorate mid-year. Rev. Kaleel Ellison was again asked by the Board of Directors to act as Interim Superintendent.
In January, Rev. Ellison was appointed Executive Director of CRM. He remained in this role until June 1993. The number of beds at the Laura Street location was increased to 86. During the years of his directorship, Rev. Ellison raised money to pay off a $12,000 mortgage, and CRM become debt-free.
The Mission thrift store was leased. It was located on Main Street between 7th & 8th Streets.
On March 8th, someone threw a fire bomb through CRM’s second-story back window. The facility was almost completely destroyed. The building was “gutted” and not habitable. The office, kitchen and laundry equipment were preserved along with CRM records and the piano. The first large, outdoor Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meals were served outside the burned-out building. After the fire-bombing, the Salvation Army allowed CRM’s program students to stay at its facility for three or four weeks, while CRM provided their food. CRM rented a house in Springfield on 15th Street. When the house was ready, about eight to 10 students lived there for about a year. CRM rented a two-story, four-plex apartment at the corner of Cottage and 10th Avenues where 37 men could stay. This facility was only used as an overnight shelter. JEA donated the use of one of its buildings located at 1st and Main Streets to house the Mission’s administrative offices. CRM was asked to pay only for the utilities. CRM continued to use this space for a year and a half, after which the administrative offices were moved to the back of the Mission’s thrift store. Lanida Bryant, hired in 1970 as bookkeeper and general office worker, began sending out appeal letters and newsletters using an Address-o-graph in her garage.
Temperatures plummeted to 13 degrees in Jacksonville. A large outdoor holiday meal was hosted in Confederate Park for approximately 300 homeless and needy people. Because of the cold, Rev. Ellison decided to host future holiday meals in the Civic Auditorium. Holiday events grew to 1,000 meals that included Easter baskets, Christmas gifts, free clothing, music and preaching. Bi-annual holiday food giveaways called “Arms Around Jacksonville” helped hundreds of needy families, growing to 2,000 families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. After a property search, it appeared that CRM would have to rebuild on Laura Street. First Baptist Church in downtown Jacksonville had plans for expansion and was buying property near its church. After extensive research, Rev. Ellison and Board member Henry Freeman approached First Baptist pastor Dr. Homer Lindsay, Jr., a CRM Board member, regarding property his church owned at 234 W. State Street downtown. Dr. Lindsay received approval from First Baptist and the mayor for CRM to be build on the State Street property. First Baptist Church swapped its State Street lot for the Mission’s property on Laura Street and gave CRM $150,000 for its building fund. Building plans were drafted to include a shelter for women and children. The building cost was estimated at $892,000, but actual figures grew to $1.2 million. A fund drive was underway, but the new facility was about 50% – 60% complete when funds ran out. During the holidays of 1983, Rev. Ellison raised another $50,000, leaving a deficit of $60,000 for finishing the project.
A foundation granted CRM the remaining $60,000 needed to finish construction. On January 2nd, Mr. Douglas B. Milne, Sr. contacted Rev. Ellison and informed him that his son, Douglas J. Milne, also on the board, sat on a foundation board and asked if foundation representatives could tour the facility. On January 2nd, Douglas B. Milne, Sr. contacted Rev. Ellison. His son, CRM board member Douglas J. Milne, also sat on a foundation board. Foundation representatives toured the CRM facility and immediately agreed to make a grant of the remaining $60,000 needed for construction. Board member Vic Freeman loaned the Mission the remaining $500,000 needed to finish the project. The new 70-bed facility was dedicated in October. Approximately 300 people, including the mayor, attended the dedication ceremony.
The LifeBuilders addiction recovery and job training program was established. Shelter capacity was increased to 170 beds when the Mission bought an adjacent building dubbed “the annex.” Bunk beds were used in both facilities. The CRM Thrift Store was relocated to 5343 Normandy Blvd.
The first female members were elected to the CRM Board: Dr. Ruth Y. Cox, Ed.D. and Professor Tina Daniels, R.D.H., B.S.
A medical clinic for the homeless opened at the Mission. Drs. Dennis and Karen McCarthy approached CRM Board member Charles Winge to indicate their interest in opening a medical clinic for the homeless. The “McCarthy Medical Clinic” was initially housed at the State Street facility. The clinic expanded to include dental care (provided by Dr. Wallace Sears and Professor Tina Daniels) and chiropractic care (provided by Dr. Lee Popwell and other chiropractors). The clinic was managed by national and local award-winning volunteers and one part-time dental assistant. Many awards were presented, specifically to Dr. McCarthy, Dr. Sears and Professor Daniels.
Life skills, job training and placement assistance for students expanded, and 112 students got jobs. In December, the city of Jacksonville opened a city-funded shelter, the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless. The City Rescue Mission created a change in the Mission’s name to clarify the difference between the Sulzbacher Center, commonly referred to as the “City Shelter,” and The City Rescue Mission. CRM became Christian Recovery Ministries.
Dr. McCarthy was selected to carry the Olympic Torch. More than 1,090 people volunteered at the Mission. Special events were expanded to include monthly open houses, luncheons and tours; monthly volunteer orientations; bi-annual soup-line camp meetings for clients; and an annual “Klothes 4 Kids” back-to-school project, created by Rev. and Mrs. Fox, which helped up to 4,000 needy school-aged children. WJXT-TV 4, K-Mart and WalMart become local sponsors for the Klothes 4 Kids event. The “Jacksonville CAN Make a Difference” canned food drive and sculpture contest began. Tons of food was collected to benefit 2,000 needy families during the holidays. Nearly 50 groups and businesses participated in this event, sponsored by WJKS-TV 17. Job training in the areas of retail sales, food services, electrical and maintenance repair, computer training, administrative work and telemarketing in the new CRM phone bank led to 135 students getting jobs. Adult basic education classes were expanded. A new ministry called FAR (Families at Risk) provided free clothing, food and home furnishings for families at risk of homelessness. In November, Rev. Fox left CRM to direct a mission in Washington, D.C. The Board of Directors selected Thurman Chambers as the new Executive Director. Mr. Chambers began his ministry on December 1st. Mr. Chambers reinstated The City Rescue Mission as the legal name.
The first LifeBuilders class graduated in a ceremony held in September at the FCCJ Auditorium. The cap-and-gown event recognized 28 students for successful completion of the program.
The campus at 426 S. McDuff Avenue was purchased. The women’s program was expanded, and the LifeBuilders program was extended to six months.
The LifeBuilders program was extended to 12 months.
A significant grant from the Woodbury estate led to an expansion from 170 to 260 beds.
The LifeBuilders program was extended to 15 months. A new mentoring program was established. In September, R. Patrick Hayle began serving as Interim Executive Director.
As a result of the strategic planning process, Executive Director Patrick Hayle’s focus turned to finances and leadership. Goals identified included a media campaign, staffing, job descriptions, organization charts and a development plan.
CSX conducted a facilities study. The CRM Board asked for a transformation plan.
In January, the staff was trained on the grace-based counseling model. The grace-based model creates a safe environment where grace flows freely. The program was implemented in October. The mission statement changed to “Serving the homeless and needy, rebuilding their lives through the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.”
The Board of Directors asked Penny Kievet to serve as Interim Executive Director, the first woman to fill this position.