The City Rescue Mission (CRM) is a privately funded, not-for-profit Christian organization that has continuously provided help to the homeless and needy in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida since 1946.
CRM was established by a group of Christian businessmen who saw a need to help alcoholics in the Jacksonville area.
Their goal at the time (1946) 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.
CRM was established.
Office corporation documents indicate the 1953 corporation date.
Mr. George Sage was named Superintendent and remained until 1964. CRM was located at 801½ Main Street in a little store-front 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 major Jacksonville fire. It was in great disrepair. This 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 Mr. 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. At this time, CRM was in debt and the facility was close to being totally dilapidated. Mr. Moody, and his family, lived at CRM for the first few months. The early months were filled with lots of manual labor and time devoted to building repair. A main goal of Mr. Moody was to increase funding of CRM. Only $9,500 in donations was received during the year of 1964.
Donations increased to $14,000
Donations totaled $28,000
CRM began assisting women in need.
Lanida Bryant started the women’s programin a nearby two-story building that CRM rented for about 10 – 12 women.
In December, Mr. Moody left the position of Superintendent and Reverend Kaleel Ellison become the Interim Superintendent.
Rev. Ellison had served on the CRM Board of Directors and had a four-year term as Chairman.
Reverend 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, Reverend Kaleel 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.
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.
Post Fire: The Salvation Army allowed CRM’s program students to stay at their facility. CRM provided their food for about three to four weeks. CRM rented a house in Springfield on 15th Street. When the house was ready, about eight to ten students lived there for about a year.
A two-story, four-plex apartment was rented at the corner of Cottage and 10th Avenue wehre 37 men could stay. This facility was only used as an overnight shelter. JEA donated the use of one of their buildings located on 1st and Main Streets to house the CRM Administrative offices. CRM was asked to only pay the utilities. CRM continued to use this space for 1½ years. The administrative offices moved to the back of the Mission’s Thrift Store at this time.
Lanida Bryant, hired in 1970 as bookkeeper and general office worker, began sending out appeal letters and newsletters using and Address-o-graph in her garage.
A freeze occurred in Jacksonville and temperatures plummeted to 13 degrees.
A large outdoor holiday meal was hosted in Confederate Park. Approximately 300 homeless and needy individuals were served meals. Because of the cold, Rev. Ellison decided to hose future holiday meals in the Civic Auditorium. There CRM served over 1,000 meals. Easter baskets, Christmas gifts, free clothing, music and preaching were also part of the holiday meal events. Bi-annual holiday food giveaways called “Arms Around Jacksonville” helped hundreds of needy families. The events grew to help 2,000 families during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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 their church. After extensive research, Rev. Ellison and Board member Henry Freeman approached Dr. homer Lindsay, Jr., a CRM Board members, regarding property the church owned at 234 W. State Street. Dr. Lindsay communicated with his church and the Jacksonville Mayor and received approval for CRM to be built at that location. First Baptist Church swapped their property for the Mission’s property on Laura Street and gave CRM $150,000 for their building fund.
Building plans were drafted to include a shelter for women and children. A fund drive was conducted. The building cost was estimated at $892,000 and actual figures grew to be $1.2 million. The new facility was about 50% – 60% complete when funds ran out. During the holidays of 1983, Rev. Ellison conducted a fund drive that generated $50,000 leaving a deficit of $60,000 for the finishing of the project.
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.
At the conclusion of the tour they informed Rev. Ellison that they would contribute the remaining %60,000 needed for construction. The rest of the money needed came as a loan of $500,000 from board member Vic Freeman.
The new 70-bed facility was dedicated in October. Approximately 300 people attended the dedication ceremony, including the Mayor.
The LifeBuilders Addiction Recovery and job training program was established.
Shelter capacity was also increased to 170 beds when an adjacent building, “the annex”, was purchased and also 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 Board (Dr. Ruth Y. Cox, Ed.D.; Professor Tina Daniels, R.D.H., B.S.)
1994: Drs. Karen and Dennis McCarthy approached CRM Board member Charles Winge indicating their interest in opening a medical clinic for the homeless. The “McCarthy Medical Clinic” was initially housed in the 234 W. State Street facility. The clinic expanded to include dental care (Dr. Wallace Sears and Professor Tina Daniels) and Chiropractic care (Dr. Lee Popwell and other chiropractors). It 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. 112 students acquired 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 City Rescue Mission. CRM became Christian Recovery Ministries.
Dr. McCarthy was selected to carry the Olympic Torch.
The number of volunteers exceeded 1,090.
Special events were expanded to include monthly open houses, luncheons and tours; monthly volunteer orientations, bi-annual soup-lilne camp meetings for clients and an annual Klothes 4 Kids back to school preparation projected (created by Rev. and Mrs. Fox) which helped up to 4,000 needy school-age children. WJXT_TV 4, K-Mart and WalMart become local sponsors for the Klothes 4 Kids event.
“Jacksonville CAN Make a Difference” canned food drive and sculpture contest began. Tons of food was collected in 1996 to benefit 2,000 needy families during the holidays. Nearly 50 groups and businesses participated in this event. The sponsor was WJKS-TV 17.
135 students obtained jobs. Job training consisted of efforts such as retail sales, food services, electrical and maintenance repair, computer training, administrative work and telemarketing in the new CRM phone bank. Adult basic education classes were expanded.
New ministry, FAR (Families at Risk) was established. FAR provided free clothing, food and home furnishings for families at risk of being homeless.
In November, Rev. Fox left CRM to direct a mission in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Thurman Chambers was selected as the new Executive Director by the CRM Board of Directors and began his ministry December 1st.
Mr. Chambers re-instated The City Rescue Mission as the legal name.
The first LifeBuilders graduation was held in September at the FCCJ Auditorium.
The event included caps and gowns and 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.
Expansion from 170 beds to 260 beds.
CRM received a significant gift form the Woodbury Estate.
LifeBuilders program 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: Media campaign, staffing, job descriptions, organization charts and a development plan.
CSX conducts a facilities study.
The CRM Board asked for a transformation plan.
In January, the staff is trained on the Grace-based model.
The Grace-based model creates a safe environment where grace flows freely. In October this model is rolled out to student. The mission statement evolved to “Serving the homeless and needy, rebuilding their lives through the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.”