Homeless don't just need help at holidays

Mission House aims to get homeless on their feet year-round

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Mission House on Shetter Avenue is the only day facility helping the homeless from Mayport to Ponte Vedra Beach. 

It provides free lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as a place to cool off, take a shower and get a change of clothes. 

Lori Anderson, executive director of Mission House, said they are seeing about 30 percent more people who need their help, which means between 60 and 80 people. 

Anderson said she noticed an uptick after hotel vouchers given out following Hurricane Irma expired.

The goal of Mission House is to house people and find them a job. 

"We're very proud of the work our crew did last year, we were able to get 94 men and women into housing and some type of income for them with a staff of 12. That's pretty amazing," Anderson said.

There are currently no other shelters in the beaches area, and Anderson said shelters in general are something organizations try to stay away from. 

"We are kind of moving away from the shelter model, and the reason being is that if you give a homeless person food and a place to lay their head, then why do they need to get a job and get the right apartment, so housing first is what we do," Anderson said. "It is a lot easier to find a job from your own bed than it is from getting up in the woods."

Mission House wants to remind people that the shelter is not only in need during the holidays, but also during the summer. Supplies get low around this time of year, so they need help to keep up with the demand. 

Some of the items they are asking for are men's boxers, short white ankle socks, reusable water bottles, insect wipes and small shorts in sizes 32 and 34.

Donations can be dropped off at the facility on Shetter Avenue. 

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