New facility to help struggling beaches residents

Mental health counseling, food and thrift store to move into building

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A vision of Pastor Jerry Sweat with BEACH Church is becoming a reality for members of the beaches' community who are struggling to make ends meet or have mental health issues.

7North, the former post office in Jacksonville Beach on the corner of 3rd street and 7th Avenue North, will soon become a facility that will provide several services to people who live at the beach.

The building has been vacant for 5 years and needs a lot of work. Renovations start this month, with BEACH Church providing the $2 million asset to the community.

"We are taking this property, renovating it with private funds and collaboratively partnering with organizations that can bring hope to recognized needs in our greater community," said lead Pastor Jerry Sweat.

Former post office at 7th Avenue North and 3rdStreet in Jacksonville Beach
Former post office at 7th Avenue North and 3rdStreet in Jacksonville Beach

Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM) will relocate its thrift store from its current location on Shetter Avenue in Jacksonville Beach to 7North.  As a retail store, BEAM Thrift offers clothing and household items at a very low cost to shoppers and provides goods at no cost to those who come to BEAM through partner referrals.

The revenue stream created by the store provides much needed funding for BEAM's core rent and utility programs and allows the nonprofit to continue meeting its mission of being a safety net for low income and struggling families at the beach.

Feeding Northeast Florida will also establish a satellite center for distributing food to more than 30 faith-based and non-profit agencies between Mayport and St. Augustine.

In addition, in partnership with the Sulzbacher Center, CEO Cindy Funkhouser says, "We plan to collaborate with Baptist Health and other partners to bring educational awareness, training, and treatment through established programs such as Youth Mental Health First Aid and Baptist's rotating Chaplaincy program." 

It's the third component to the plan, creating a place where people with mental health issues can visit to get help.

Help is needed to raise money to pay to renovate 7North. Click here to donate.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held Wednesday afternoon to officially mark the beginning of renovation on 7North.  Several civic leaders will be in attendance. 

About the Author: