PINELLAS PARK – As of last month, the Suncoast Haven of Rest Rescue Mission finally has a new home.
Following years of increased complaints from its Pinellas Park neighbors, the rescue mission has relocated from two Park Boulevard properties – 5625 and 5663 – to 1763 Ninth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. The move is effective as of March 21 said Rev. Lionel Cabral, who runs Haven of Rest.
In response to these complaints, and in an effort to revitalize that part of Park Boulevard, which falls within the Community Redevelopment Area, the city purchased not only the rescue mission’s properties, but also six other properties on and around that strip at the end of 2012. In November, the city agreed to pay the rescue mission $370,000 for its properties, plus an estimated $5,140 in closing costs. They closed on the deal New Year’s Eve.
In its former location, Haven of Rest offered a multitude of services to the homeless: daily meals, food boxes, free clothing, hot showers. The relocation means a change to the services it offers. For now, the focus will be on handing out boxes of groceries to struggling families, said Cabral, who runs the rescue mission.
“So many families come see us every month and just want to see that flow going,” he said. “[We were doing] way more than we can actually handle. We needed more help and didn’t get it. So we needed to go back to focusing on feeding marginal families. These are people right on the edge, about to go homeless. And we’re trying to catch them before they go homeless. We’re serving them before they become street people.”
The new space has two warehouses, he said, which is perfect for storing food donations.
In its old space, the rescue mission was able to cater more than 1,000 meals a week to various shelters and hospices throughout the county, Cabral said. Eventually, he hopes Haven of Rest will be able to pick up catering again, even if they have to work with other groups and organizations to borrow space for cooking. Right now, he said, they’re talking with the Korean Presbyterian Church, 44th Street N., just off Park Boulevard.