Church gift funds mental health professional at local clinic



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Church gift funds mental health professional at local clinic

By Gary Tiller | Jan. 21, 2009 {0964}

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — The generosity of a local United Methodist church has helped The Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville begin the year on a financial high note.

Members of Beach United Methodist Church raised $40,000 for the health center’s new Beaches Community Healthcare clinic in Jacksonville Beach. The gift will allow the center to fund a medical professional who will visit the beach clinic two days a week throughout 2009 to provide care in the clinic’s mental health wing.

The Rev. Jerry Sweat, pastor of Beach United Methodist Church in Jacksonville Beach, presents a giant check for $40,000 to Cindy Funkhouser, vice president of Health Services at The Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville. Photo courtesy of Beach United Methodist Church. Photo #09-1089.

“This is an incredible gift ... and it will be invaluable to us in 2009 as we open this new health-care facility,” said Cindy Funkhouser, vice president of Health Services at The Sulzbacher Center and a member of the church. “Beach United Methodist is a wonderful community partner whose generosity will literally change people’s lives.”

The Sulzbacher Center has been providing comprehensive health-care services, children’s programs and job placement assistance for the homeless population in downtown Jacksonville since 1995, according to the center’s Web site. The new beach clinic provides medical, dental and mental health services to homeless and uninsured adults who earn below the poverty line.

Early in December, the Rev. Jerry Sweat, senior pastor at Beach United Methodist Church, asked members to spend less on friends and family for Christmas and invest in a local project that would impact the “least of these” in the community. He called the program “Simplify Christmas.” The new beach clinic, specifically the mental health wing, was chosen as the church’s project. Members raised four times their $10,000 goal through gifts given during Advent.

“I felt that we should take on the wing of the clinic that most people would pass over,” Sweat said. “Through years of pastoral care I have seen that the number-one leprosy of our day is mental illness. It comes with great cultural stigma.”

The beach clinic will work closely with The Sulzbacher Center’s HOPE Team, which uses street outreach and medical triage to proactively engage men, women and families who have slipped through the cracks and have nowhere to turn for help. The clinic celebrated its grand opening Jan. 13.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011, tparham@flumc.org, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Tiller coordinates marketing and communication at Beach United Methodist Church in Jacksonville Beach.




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