The Kearney Center News


Join us this holiday season for glad tidings, good music, and a good cause! Maranatha Seven-Day Adventist Church is hosting a Christmas Charity Concert to Benefit The Kearney Center.

The concert is featuring Jamarien Moore, Jacquell “The Apostle” Lawson, Robert Fennell and Company, Natalie Word, Anita Franklin, and more on Sunday, December 11th, 2016 at 5:00pm at 3221 Jim Lee Road, Tallahassee, FL, 32301. See you there!

shelterNational Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is November 12th through November 20th. In honor of this national week of awareness, the Shelter Band is playing a benefit show for The Kearney Center on Saturday, November 12th, 2016 at 8pm. Click the link to listen to the band play! Tickets are $10 at the door, and all proceeds will benefit The Kearney Center. The event will be hosted at the Junction at Monroe, located at 2011 S Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301. Please join us for a fun evening for a good cause!! Click the flyer to the left to buy your tickets in advance!!

CCYS Sleep Out 2016Join us and our community partners Capital City Youth Services and the Big Bend Homeless Coalition on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 for the second annual Sleep Out and Community Dinner and Discussion, to learn about the issue of youth homelessness and how it affects our community. Dinner and discussion will be from 7:00pm to 8:00pm, and the sleep out will begin from 8:00pm to 6:00am. Attendees must be 18 years of age and older in order to participate. There is a suggested donation of $20 to attend the Community Dinner; proceeds will benefit CCYS, the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, and The Kearney Center.

Please note that space to be a Sleep Out Leader is limited, so make sure you RSVP by emailing If you would like to participate click here  and click on the ‘create a fundraiser’ button to setup your personal fundraising platform to become a Sleep Out Leader or Team. By setting up this platform you are registering to fund-raise and participate in the Sleep Out event.  Additionally, space is limited for the Community Dinner and Discussion, so be sure to shoot Bintu an email if you plan on attending!

See you there!

john-wesley-alternative-christmas-marketJoin us at John Wesley United Methodist Church at 1689 Old Saint Augustine Road, in Tallahassee, FL, for the 30th Annual Alternative Christmas Market! The event will take place on Saturday, December 3rd, from 9am to 4pm, as well as on Sunday, December 4th from 1pm to 4pm. The suggested donation is one canned food item or one roll of toilet paper to help those in need. Learn more here! You can also join them on Facebook here!

Housing Forum To Focus On Neediest Residents

For people hanging onto the lower rungs of society, getting into safe and affordable housing is the first step up toward stability and security.

But for thousands of people in Leon County, that kind of housing doesn’t exist.

Local officials and civic leaders are hoping to change that. About 65 people are meeting Friday to discuss ways to solve what one businessman called a blight on the community.

“This is a sore on our body that can’t heal,” said Rick Kearney, CEO of Mainline Information Systems who’s invested his own money in affordable housing and homeless shelters. “Economic development is hampered because of that.”

Read the full article on

Shelter_2C_logoIn a unanimous vote, representatives from The Shelter and The Kearney Center announced today their intention to merge the two organizations in order to strengthen future operations. Within 60 days, The Shelter will complete the transition and operate under CESC Inc. (Comprehensive Emergency Services Center), the legal entity of The Kearney Center, with a continued focus on serving the homeless and those in need of the Big Bend area. The announcement comes nearly one year since both organizations started operating out of the new, state-of-the-art Kearney Comprehensive Emergency Services Center.

Since the physical move to The Kearney Center in May 2015, The Shelter has worked alongside more than 40 state, federal and local governmental agencies, non-profit and faith based organizations to provide comprehensive services for the homeless in the Big Bend area. The merger will allow for increased efficiencies, services, resources and opportunities to serve the individuals and families in need in the region.

“Our team has been working in lockstep with The Kearney Center for nearly a year,” said Jacob Reiter, Executive Director of The Shelter. “Our two teams are already operating as one when it comes to dedication and passion for serving those in need in our community. This merger allows us to expand and improve the services we deliver, and this is something easy to get behind.”

The staff of The Shelter will be retained, and current services will be continued and enhanced over time. The current board of The Kearney Center will expand to include members from the current Shelter Board of Directors.

“For nearly 30 years the dedicated staff, volunteers and donors of The Shelter have been fighting homelessness and have been a guiding light for those in need,” said Rick Kearney, Founder and Chairman of Board for The Kearney Center. “This merger combines their passion with expanded resources to ensure we can continue to do so for the next 30 years and beyond.”

The Kearney Center mission is to reduce homelessness, increase employment and provide long-term housing placements while providing safe emergency housing that promotes dignity and respect for individuals in our community who are experiencing homelessness, unemployment, disabilities and hunger.

Download Press Release [PDF]

The Comprehensive Emergency Services Center invites you to join us for the Grand Opening Ceremony!

WHEN: Thursday April 2, 11:00AM – 1:00PM
WHERE: 2650 Municipal Way

We are especially pleased to invite you, a long time supporter of The Shelter, to be part of the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Comprehensive Emergency Services Center! This is where we will be locating in April. The new Center will provide us space for expanded programming and services including our brand new case management program for all our clients, a complete medical suite, isolation rooms for anyone with a contagious illness, a hot room for all belongings to eliminate bed bugs, and a full kitchen to offer nutritional meals. Our kitchen is state-of-the-art, and will give our donors like you a place to come prepare the meals at the Center. Our clients will have opportunities to learn skills such as kitchen services that will provide them jobs, and we are partnering with the City to offer daily bus passes to help with transporting Shelter clients to and from work. It will be a truly one of a kind program and we want you to come to the Grand Opening to witness our growth and change.

The Shelter exists because supporters like you have made it possible for us to feed and provide shelter to the homeless in our community for over 27 years, every year, each and every day, Without these critical services, our City would have hundreds of less fortunate people sleeping and trying to survive on the streets. Your donations and contributions have been crucial in the past, and will be even more important as we move to our new location on West Pensacola Street.

CESC_Grand_OpeningYour support makes a difference! In the last 20 months, we have implemented a full professional case management team ably supported by our universities’ social work interns, so that our clients can more effectively and rapidly find stable long-term housing. In the last 20 months, we identified 75 people who had been staying at The Shelter for 5 years or longer. With caring case management, we have moved 53 of them into stable housing. This success is possible only because of our loyal supporters like you, who know we use 93% of our dollars for client services. That is why, year after year, we are continually helped by United Way of the Big Bend. Our 27 years of clean independent financial audits attest to our careful and professional use of your cash gifts and material contributions.

With all of the new services and staffing in place we need your help more than ever. Please consider buying a brick or helping with our other ongoing needs as we continue to expand and improve our services to the community. With your ongoing caring support the Shelter will now even more effectively address homelessness in our community at the new Center.

We look forward to having you come to the Grand Opening Ceremony so you can see what your dollars can accomplish and to hear the words of the state and national dignitaries who will speak. Lunch will be served after the ceremony and the Sauce Boss and Shelter Band will be playing. Thank you and please join us!

Priscilla Tharpe
Chair of The Shelter Board of Directors

Download PDF letter and Grand Opening Invitation

DSCN0436The Shelter is the July Mission of the Month at St Johns Episcopal. On July 6th, Shelter Director Jacob Reiter spoke with the congregation about The Shelter’s operations and plans for the new Comprehensive Emergency Services Center. The Shelter Band played uplifting music while everyone enjoyed red, white and blue parfaits and muffins! Everyone had a wonderful time learning more about The Shelter and its positive impact on our community. The St John’s congregation collected over 1200 rolls of toilet paper and more than 40 containers of laundry detergent – both supplies are vital and always in short supply. The Shelter thanks St. John’s for their continuing generosity!

Tallahassee Jewish Federation Teen Philanthropy Provides Grant to The Shelter

This year, 12 local high school students, who serve as the Tallahassee Jewish Federation (TJF) Teen Philanthropy Initiative’s Teen Board, awarded grants totaling $12,500 to six organizations that provide important services to individuals in need.

Locally, the Teen Board invited the Big Bend Homeless Coalition and The Shelter to apply for a grant. The teens visited leaders of both organizations to learn more about the important work they do and about the specific projects for which they sought support. Both the BBHC and The Shelter have been delighted to work with the Teen Board. Stephanie Beckingham, Assistant to the Director of the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, shared:

“I cannot tell you what an honor it is to stand beside organizations in Israel as we meet critical needs in our communities, in partnership with the Tallahassee Jewish Federation. The TJF Teen Board has provided financial support to those we serve for the last six years and has played some part in helping over 300 individuals as they move from homelessness to stable housing. We truly could not do this without them. On a more personal note, I have truly enjoyed watching the teens grow up over the years, and know many of them will become our future servant leaders.”

Jacob Reiter, Executive Director of The Shelter, congratulated the Teen Board for its work and thanked the Board for its generous support as well.

Read the full article on

Shelter Residents Night at the Opera

Every week The Shelter has music therapy sessions for the residents. At the end of a session a few weeks ago, DeVane suggested the idea of going to the opera to other residents and volunteers. We got asked about the opera, which was surprising to me at first,” said Anna Marie Friars, a Florida State University graduate student who helps run the music therapy sessions. "But then I remembered that these are regular people, normal human beings. The wheels got turning and everyone jumped on board."

Friars, along with the help of other volunteers at The Shelter, created a Go Fund Me campaign online to help fund the magical night. The money would go towards providing a picture-perfect evening for the residents, which would include clothing, transportation, dinner and the opera tickets.

Read the full article on

© 2015 The Kearney Center
2650 Municipal Way Tallahassee, FL. 32304
Phone:(850) 792-9000
Fax: (850) 536-6053

The Kearney Center is focused on eradicating homelessness throughout Tallahassee and the Big Bend region.

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