As times change, so must the Panama City Rescue Mission (PCRM). The demographics of our clientele and their needs have changed over the last 20 years.
“We are no longer just a soup kitchen,” said PCRM board member Alan Graham. “We are a transformational program helping people find a way out of their circumstances to live productive and happy lives.”
One of the biggest contributing factors to poverty and displacement is addiction, which leads to job loss, estrangement from family, and countless other obstacles to a productive and stable existence. Substance abuse costs our nation more than $700 billion annually. A successful recovery program that is accessible to addicts who have no money or insurance to cover the cost can reduce the negative economic impact on society significantly. Long term recovery is much less expensive than incarceration.
PRCM’s recovery program addresses such issues and makes recovery accessible to those who need it most. Their highly structured 12-month program offers hope for a stable future without dependence on addictive substances to those who otherwise would have no hope. An average rehabilitation facility typically exceeds $30,000 per month, with an average co-pay of $14,000 (if insured) for a 30- to 60-day stay. Without PCRM’s low-cost option, their clients would have little to no opportunity for long-term recovery.
Those who complete the PCRM addiction recovery program graduate with permanent and stable employment, ready to be productive members of the community and local workforce. PRCM has a far greater positive economic impact on the local community than most people realize.
Since 2013, PCRM has focused its efforts toward becoming a good corporate citizen and contributing to the greater economic good of this community. They restructured their approach and made measurable improvements to address the current problems among the disadvantaged in our community, so as not to enable complacency, but to require clients to make lifestyle changes.
While it can be difficult to accurately measure the savings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that every dollar invested in addiction recovery yields a return of $7 to $12 in taxpayer savings in community services such as law enforcement, EMS services, emergency room visits, court costs, public defenders, mental health services, incarceration, detox programs, poison control, child services, and so on. Not to mention, loss of life, which cannot be assigned a dollar amount.
“We provide a community service that saves taxpayer money and improves individual lives as well as the overall community, economy, spiritual well-being, and family stability, thereby ensuring a better future for the children of those we help,” Graham said. “Our programs restore a father or mother back into a functional God-centered, Christian family home and, hopefully, eliminate a generational curse for the children of those families. Those who support the Panama City Rescue Mission play a direct role in improving and saving lives while making an investment in our community’s future.”
Several business owners in Panama City regularly hire PCRM program graduates, including Rupert’s Cleaners, Heritage Builders, and OEM Tube Assemblies. Other employers include ECA Emerald Coast Answerphone, Chick-fil-A, The Little Mustard Seed, Tom’s Hotdogs, Walmart, Cardiology Associates, and Two Men and a Truck, to name a few.
OEM Tube Assemblies Plant Manager Bobby Street has hired many graduates of the PCRM recovery program with great success. “I have been associated with the Mission for many years and have hired many graduates of the recovery program, and helped many others find work in the area,” Street said. “We currently have four graduates working for us and doing a very good job. I think the Mission has helped to instill in these employees a greater work ethic, a better sense of accountability, and a deeper understanding of what working together for a common goal is really all about.”
“The Mission’s volunteers, contributors, and staff are committed to showing the love of Christ to all who are in this program,” Street added. “I am a witness to the positive changes that this commitment has made in these lives.”
The idea has been put forth that the Panama City Rescue Mission should relocate, and thereby reduce the number of transients downtown. However, research strongly indicates that the transient problem would not only persist downtown, but relocating the Mission would create a void that could lead to increased problems. People would be left in much more dire circumstances with nowhere to turn. “Desperate people do desperate things,” said Thurman Chambers, PCRM President and CEO. “That is not what we would want in our downtown business community. We are here to help get people off the street and back on their feet.”
Panama City has a population of chronically homeless who don’t want to change their lifestyle. “That’s an issue that we all need to work together as a united community to resolve, and the Rescue Mission welcomes everyone’s input on how to do that,” Chambers said. “However, our outreach ministry does save lives, and we are deeply dedicated to getting people off the streets, back to their families, and able to support themselves.”
The Panama City Rescue Mission is in the business of rescuing, recovering, and restoring men, women, and children as Christian leaders in their family, community, and country. With God’s blessing and direction, the Mission will be a place Panama City residents point to with pride and commitment. “Come see for yourself,” Chambers said. “We’d love to show you around and tell you more about what we do.” Visit the Panama City Rescue Mission website, pcrmission.org, to schedule a tour.