City Rescue Mission celebrating change at the LifeBuilders’ Spring Graduation


On Friday, March 18th, 2016 in the Wayne M. Densch Chapel, located at CRM’s McDuff Campus, friends and family will gather to celebrate City Rescue Mission’s Spring Graduating class of 2016.

This spring, more than 22 eligible graduates will be recognized for having completed a holistic, grace-oriented program that addressed their long-term emotional, spiritual, medical, social, educational and economic needs. Every student has a unique story, demonstrating a need for hope, healing and change. “The LifeBuilders addiction recovery program is designed to rebuild the lives that have been broken by substance abuse and other life-controlling issues,” stated Executive Director, Penny Kievet. The eligible graduates have spent anywhere from 12-18 months in the LifeBuilders Program and many of them are already making waves in their lives. Out of the eligible spring graduates, more than 90% are currently employed and or are furthering their education through local community colleges, while the remaining 10% are currently working with CRM staff and volunteers to match their skills with a Jacksonville business partner or are unable to work due to disability. All students are also either living in transitional housing provided by City Rescue Mission or are living independently. “We are committed to returning them to their families and communities as healed, hopeful and productive citizens with the emotional strength to sustain their own transformation for a lifetime,” stated Kievet.

Among the eligible spring graduates celebrating transformation is Jeffery. Jeffery came to CRM from South Georgia with the hope to overcome a crack-cocaine addiction. “When I think about where I came from it brings tears to my eyes. I had been using drugs for 20 years, and had been in and out of jail. I wanted to change but didn’t know how. Thanks to some LifeBuilder graduates that lived in my neighborhood, I was introduced to the program,” stated Jeffery. Like all of the students enrolled in the LifeBuilders Program, Jeffery was provided with classes and counseling designed to help heal the addiction. After completing the LifeSkills program, students move into Workforce development where they begin the transition back to independent living. Students learn to chart a career path, build self-esteem, and seek success.  “I am currently working at Ultimate Survival Technologies as a forklift driver and living in the transitional housing at CRM. Right now, I love where the Lord has me and who he has in my life. I have learned to truly let the Lord lead my life. I am thankful to CRM for giving me a chance to just enjoy the little things in life.”

Manager, Workforce Development, Angela Cook, reflects on every student’s journey as she prepares for the upcoming graduation ceremonies. “I am reminded of God’s faithfulness in transforming the lives of our students. Seeing them coming into the program looking for hope, finding healing through the LifeBuilders Program, and finally celebrating their change as they walk across the stage,” Cook says. On Friday March 18th, 2016 starting at 7:00 PM the celebration of hope, healing, and change will begin. Included in the ceremony will be the Graduation Address by Reverend Karl Hodges Sr. of Central Baptist Institutional Church, and CRM will present an award to Blane McCarthy and the Christian Legal Society, a committed community partner, for providing outstanding pro bono legal services to our students.