A helpful new Army service pops up in Jacksonville

By: Brad Rowland

In February 2019, The Salvation Army of Jacksonville, Florida, assisted in the launch of an Urban Rest Stop location that aims to equip individuals in need by offering case management, substance abuse and employment referrals and aid with public assistance applications. In partnership with a pair of homeless service providers, Sulzbacher and Mental Health Resource Center (MHRC), a “pop-up” version of the already established center is now operational. The center launched on April 20 and is expected to be open for at least 90 days.

Funding for the pop-up is provided by the City of Jacksonville and, while the original Urban Rest Stop was located at Sulzbacher’s campus in downtown Jacksonville, the pop-up is located at 15 Church Street, the site formerly known as The Salvation Army’s Citadel Community Center in the area.

“We are so very grateful to The Salvation Army for offering up this wonderful space, it is at times like these that collaboration and teamwork are even more essential than usual and this partnership with MHRC, Sulzbacher and The Salvation Army is meeting a critical need for our most vulnerable neighbor during this COVID crisis,” said Cindy Funkhouser, CEO of Sulzbacher.

In addition to referrals and public assistance aid, the pop-up location provides a refuge, complete with social distancing guidelines, to people experiencing homelessness in the region. The pop-up location also features meal service, with access to showers, laundry facilities and available health care assistance.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida has provided shelter for nearly 100 individuals, with more than 600 food boxes, 3000 lunch and dinner meals and 650 hygiene kits distributed in the community. Daily to-go lunch service is also operational, with dinner provided from a field kitchen outside The Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope, with hot, nourishing meals provided to approximately 70 individuals per day.

 “The Salvation Army is glad to be able to join with our fellow homeless service providers in providing this facility to serve the marginalized community in this time of crisis and practice mandated measures to flatten the curve using social distancing,” said Major Keath Biggers, area commander. “We believe, for such a time as this, this building which provided hope, comfort, Christian fellowship and love will now provide these and a safe haven for our brothers and sisters.”