PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Panama City Rescue Mission is almost ready to house and help homeless men in our area.

After 3.5 years of work and more than $700,000, the rescue mission had its grand reopening Tuesday evening.

Before it closed after Hurricane Michael, the Panama City Rescue Mission was the only men’s shelter between Pensacola and Tallahassee.

PCRM President and CEO Stephen Fett said this resource plays a vital part in combatting homelessness.

“It stabilizes their life and we help them to introduce order in the chaos that they have been experiencing and slowly over time, they’re able to stabilize and then get back on their feet and ultimately become contributing members to our community,” Fett said.

Jonathon Hurley is currently struggling with homelessness. He said being able to have a place to sleep, shower, and wash his clothes will make all the difference in helping him land a job and get back on his feet.

“It’s just amazing to have a place like this just to open up,” Hurley said. “It’ll help me and make a difference in my life and prepare me for having my own house. Not only will it do that, but also prepare me for my job, my work, my career that I’m working on right now.”

Local leaders said they too have felt a void in the community since being without a men’s shelter.

“All of us have been focused on trying to rebuild our own lives, rebuild our own organizations, rebuild other parts of our community that sometimes those that have lesser than have been overlooked,” Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Senior Pastor Jesse Nelson said. “Here’s an organization that specifically focuses on that particular demographic in our community. And so I think that’s where the big void is going to be filled and that’s where people are going to be helped.”

Fett said the only thing left standing in the way of a fully operational men’s shelter is a lack of staffing.

“To run this operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week 365 days a year takes 8 to 10 people and about $30,000 a month. Right now it’s staff. Everything is all ready other than the staff that needs to be hired.”

The rescue mission is hosting a fundraiser this Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. You can tour the facility and make a donation.

Fett said they hope to have the funds to be fully operational in the first few months of 2023.

Right now, they are open for their free evening community meal from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Click here to find more information on how to donate or volunteer.