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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jacksonville City Rescue Mission remodeling for women with children

Nonprofit realized there were a lot more in need than they could help.

The skyrocketing number of homeless women and children are behind a soon-to-be completed expansion at City Rescue Mission.

The Women's Emergency Services building is under renovation at the mission's McDuff Avenue campus and will more than triple the amount of space available to women and women with children, to 54 beds in total.

"It started by our staff recognizing that there were a lot more women in need than help we were able to provide," said executive director David Bugher. "Right now, the place we have for women is tight and cramped."

Women in long-term programs and receiving emergency overnight shelter were packed in together as the need for such services increased.

Overall homelessness increased 18 percent since last year, and homeless advocates said families with children accounted for the greatest part of that increase.

The new building previously served as a learning center for City Rescue Mission's LifeBuilders and New Day Workforce programs. Those have been relocated into the main building. The faith-based nonprofit offers addiction recovery and job skills programs as well as emergency shelter for the homeless.

Bugher said he hopes that the emergency shelter will help more women get access to the mission's long-term programs, which aim to permanently lift people out of homelessness.

The $200,000 needed to renovate the space was raised privately, and it is expected to be complete by late July. The group is still looking to raise funds to finish furnishing the space.

Bugher himself is a new addition to City Rescue Mission - he took over on April 21 as executive director after former executive director, Patrick Hayle, retired. Bugher was previously the executive director for Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh.
"I'm just very grateful to come to a place that has a dedicated staff that is doing fantastic work already," he said.

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