Panama City Rescue Mission adapts to changes amid pandemic, uses new hiring process

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–The coronavirus has undoubtedly impacted everyone, from the homeless to the wealthy. Since the pandemic first broke out, the Panama City Rescue Mission has undergone many changes, impacting how they help the community. But still, they continue to set people up for success even during this unforeseen time.

Since April, the Rescue Mission has had to lay off 90% of its staff due to a dwindling budget.

“It was unfortunate but it also provided an opportunity to do things a different way,” said Stephen Fett, the President and CEO of the Panama City Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission now fills vacancies through the Hurricane Michael Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

“The majority of our staff are funded through the CareerSource reemployment grant,” said Fett.

Fett says this new way of hiring actually helps in more ways than one. He says they’re able to hire people who may have a difficult time getting a job due to their background or employment history.

“It helps them to become useful employees again and it helps us because it has reduced our payroll,” said Fett.

Panama City resident, Brandi Hamann, recently got out of prison. Since getting out, she’s been hired through the Rescue Mission. She says this second chance has changed the trajectory of her life.

“I now have a savings account, I’m saving money, I’m trying to get a new place. I’ve done a lot in these 90 days and I feel really good about it. Clean, sober, just trying to do good,” said Hamann.

Hamann says her time a part of the Rescue Mission’s new employment program has given her a new outlook.

“Being able to save money every week and go to Walmart once a week and to be able to put things in the cart…Why? Because I can,” said Hamann.

Along with changes in hiring, the Rescue Mission also eliminated its formal inhouse addiction rehabilitation program.

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