While many of us are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and family, there are hundreds of people in Leon County and the surrounding Big Bend who are homeless and who won’t be able to.
What began as a charitable effort by a local church eventually blossomed into the Kearney Center, a 24-hour comprehensive emergency service center that serves as a point of entry for assistance by coordinating services and responding to immediate needs of individuals and families until appropriate permanent housing can be arranged, according to Kimberly Ladner, who serves as director the Kearney Center.
Opened in April 2015, the Kearney Center is a one-stop shop for individuals experiencing homelessness or economic hardship in the North Florida region.
“It is my honor to serve the people in our community in need. Through my own personal experiences, I can attest that there is no way to fulfill one’s purpose in life without community and a support system,” Ladner said. “The Kearney Center is the very definition of our community serving as a support system to people experiencing homelessness as we work to provide them the tools for self-sufficiency — thus allowing them to fulfill their own life’s purpose.”
Many individuals who are homeless once had family gatherings, just as many of us do now.
But due to an individual’s misfortune and an absence of help, they have found themselves struggling in the streets. While most of them would have the option to pull themselves together, some would stay stuck.
John Williams, who currently stays at the Kearney Center, is thankful.
“Just when I thought I had nowhere to go, I found them,” Williams said. “The faculty and staff have become my family, and I’m so grateful to have people like them who genuinely care, especially during the holiday season.”
Vicki Butler, the Kearney Center’s deputy director, said that she commends Lander’s efforts in ensuring that individuals are assisted expeditiously.
“Kimberly is such an amazing individual who is working hard to help end homelessness for all people affected in the Big Bend region,” Butler said. “It is a great honor and privilege to work with her.”
The Kearney Center is a vital resource for the community, and without these services, there would be at least 200 additional local people experiencing and living with the trauma of not having shelter.
Located on 2650 Municipal Way, not far from Tallahassee Community College, the Kearney Center is helping individuals who need extra care.
For any questions or concerns, contact Kimberly Ladner via email at Kim.Ladner@cescthl.org