Hundreds of people gathered at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, Thursday night, February 4th to celebrate City Rescue Mission’s 70th Year Anniversary. City Rescue Mission hosted a sold out gala, “Love Letters: An Evening with Pat Boone,” sponsored by St Johns Investment Management Company. Jacksonville born, Pat Boone helped create a nostalgic evening as the hundreds of people reflected and celebrated on all the work CRM has done the past 70 years. Prior to the event, guests gathered in the foyer where they had an opportunity to catch up with old friends, while members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra played beautiful strings. Among the many people in attendance, CRM was grateful to have the second Executive Director for City Rescue Mission, Mr. Don Moody. Mr. Moody was elected in 1964 and for the first few months, he and his wife lived at CRM and put in a lot of manual labor, repairing the building’s needs and focused his time on raising additional funds. In his first year, he was able to increase donations from $9500 to $14000 and the year following, $28000. Mr. Moody reflected back on his time at the mission and shared one of his favorite memories of working at the Mission. “There is one girl, who was 19 years old; she was homeless when she came to the Mission. She stayed one night at our overnight house. The next day my wife and I asked her to come and live with us; we shared the gospel with her, helped her get into classes and gave her work. She eventually ended up meeting and marrying a seminary graduate and believe it or not, still calls me once a year to keep in touch,” according to Mr. Moody.
Doors opened at 6:30 PM and guests were greeted by City Rescue Mission Staff and Volunteers, taken to their table, where they found personal hand written love letters by one of CRM’s current LifeBuilders students, thanking them for their love and support. Looking towards the stage, guests were able to follow a photo gallery timeline featuring old photos and major events starting with 1946 when CRM was established, all the way to 2016.
96.1 WEJZ’s morning show host, Arthur Crofton, welcomed guest’s and served as the official Gala emcee beginning at 7:00PM. Shortly after, current Executive Director Penny Kievet took the stage to welcome and thank the guests for arriving. She addressed the past 70 years and talked about the next 70 years and more to come.
Although people gathered to celebrate City Rescue Mission’s 70 years of hope, healing, and change, majority of the audience was equally excited to see the famous Pat Boone take the stage. Boone started out the evening by reminiscing on his time spent in Jacksonville and acknowledged the great work of the Mission. “Let me tell you what else I love about Jacksonville, I love City Rescue Mission and all the fine work they do in this community,” stated Boone. Following his message, he brought the audience back in time once again with his major gospel hit, “A Wonderful Time up There.” Quickly after, Boone sang “April Love,” and “Love Letters in the Sand.”
After a few songs and words from Pat Boone, attention was brought back to the reason everyone was truly there – to celebrate the thousands of lives that have been impacted through 70 years of transformation. Former Lifebuilders graduate –Eric was introduced. His story was just one great example of Hope, Healing, and Change. The hope for Eric was to find healing. “Everyone had given up on me; I had burned every bridge and was on a path to destruction. I hopped on a greyhound bus leaving New Jersey one way to Jacksonville, FL to join the LifeBuilders program. It was my last hope,” according to Eric. During the program, Eric spoke on how CRM introduced him to Christ which helped heal him from the inside out. Eric ended by speaking about the change that had taken place by getting on that bus and coming to City Rescue Mission. After a standing ovation, and many touched hearts, Boone finished up the evening with one last song – “Stone by Stone.”
City Rescue Mission thanks everyone who has been part of the 70 year history and those who will be a part of the next 70 years and more. Also, special thanks to Pat Boone, for joining CRM’s 70 year celebration, Mr. Arthur Crofton, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and Eric, for sharing his story.
For more picture, click here: Love Letters: An Evening with Pat Boone Photo Album