Several companies step up to help Clara White Mission

Mission that helps Jacksonville's homeless, veterans still needs $210K by August

Support is pouring in to help keep the Clara White Mission open---but the organization's goal is still a long way away.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Since the Clara White Mission said last week that it needed nearly $425,000 in funding by Aug. 30 to avoid cutting services for Jacksonville's homeless and low-income people from five days a week to three, several companies stepped up to help.

The Jaguars Foundation immediately gave a gift of $75,000 last week to the mission, which provides counseling, job training, free meals and other services for those in need.

The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic and Steve and Anne Pajcic then matched the Jaguars Foundation's gift with $75,000.

Additionally, other companies -- such as bestbet, Sysco, Chartwells and Weavers’ Endowment -- donated money. Clara White board members and locals also made contributions

As of Tuesday, $215,000 has been raised through the mission’s Call-To-Action Donation Challenge. Donors came to the mission Tuesday to celebrate the money raised so far. 

"It's not too late. We want you all to continue to help us. No gift is too big or too small," said mission President and City Councilwoman Ju'Coby Pittman.

But Clara White still needs to raise $210,000 by Aug. 30 to meet the $425,000 goal. 

The mission has already reduced feeding the homeless from seven days to five days due to a funding shortage, with the risk of cutting programs and services to three days a week. There is also a risk of cuts being made to the adult vocational training and operations.

The mission estimates it could serve roughly 125,000 meals in the next year, but right now, its budget can support just over half of that.

In a recent tweet, the downtown mission that has helped people for 115 years said grants are coming in but at drastically reduced levels. The mission said the demand for services is going up, but it doesn’t have the funding to support it. 

"We have done everything humanly possible that we can, as well as our board has stepped up. We have had several contributions from our board members," Pittman said Tuesday. "Unfortunately, in that short time, we weren't able to raise that money." 

The mission, located on West Ashley Street, provides services to thousands of homeless and low-income people every week. According to the mission, it serves 400 meals daily and houses more than 30 homeless veterans each month.

"Clara White did so much for me with helping me with a place to live and food to eat, and having not to worry with things like that so I could move on with my life," said former Clara White client Traci Sanjines. 

A year ago, Sanjines was homeless, with no job, money or food. But with the mission's help, her life looks a lot different now. 

"My life is looking wonderful now. I have my own apartment. I pay my own bills. And, right now, I work part-time with Clara White after being a client," Sanjines said. "Without Clara White, I don't know where I would be today. I don't know if I would still be in my car (or) where I would be."

Though the mission has not quite reached its goal yet, it is hoping others will join the Call-to-Action Donation Challenge and make a donation. You can give money or supplies. Visit Give to Clara and Save Lives to help.

About the Authors:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.