Please share this with your friends. We must get the word out on the ongoing crisis on the Florida Panhandle! -- Gary
On Monday, the city of Lynn Haven (which neighbors Panama City to the north) made this post on its official Facebook page:
"Now is the time to put out your debris. As a reminder whole houses pushed to the curb will not be picked up.
Please separate debris on the right of way accordingly, please refrain from putting any debris in the roadway or ditches. Thank you!"
It's almost unimaginable that, six months after the hurricane hit, city officials are still sending a "reminder" that "whole houses pushed to the curb" would not be picked up by the debris removal team! This demonstrates the level of the crisis going on right now in Panama City and surrounding communities.Read more
We finished up our trip to Panama City and I have some great news...
We effectively have the "keys" to the school and kitchen
the city is allowing us to use for our "Beacon Of Hope" efforts this summer! I have been amazed at the amount of favor God has given us with this community. From city leaders to church leaders to folks we meet in the streets, we are being welcomed back with open arms. These people are desperate for help, and they trust that our Mercy Chefs teams will combine real compassion with excellent meals for their hurting community.
Now, I have a challenge!Read more
We just concluded an incredible day of meetings with city officials and the Bay County school board. Panama City is facing a crisis this summer. They have thousands of children still homeless due to the hurricane and are looking to Mercy Chefs for help.
I came today to finalize arrangements with city officials for Mercy Chefs to use one of the public schools -- Patterson Elementary -- to conduct ongoing feeding programs for children in the community. From this location, we'll be serving meals directly as well as sending food out to community programs throughout the city.Read more
Tomorrow (Sunday), I'm flying to Panama City for meetings beginning on Monday with school officials and a number of church partners.
I'm fully committed to this project. That's why I'm going now, to finalize plans so I can get our teams moving. The total cost through the summer could exceed $200,000, but more urgently we need support right now to keep our "Beacon Of Hope" long-term kitchen on track for a June 1 opening.Read more
As we were in the midst of developing our plans to establish a "Beacon Of Hope" long-term kitchen in Panama City -- and before things were finalized -- I received a phone call that really shook me up.
It was from one of the pastors in Panama City with whom we developed a strong friendship during our many weeks of service in his community. We caught up on a number of things before he got to the point of his call...
"I've heard, but maybe it's a rumor..."
He could barely get the words out before he burst into tears and blurted out...
"Are y'all coming back this summer?"Read more
As I've been sharing, Mercy Chefs is moving quickly to establish a "Beacon Of Hope" long-term kitchen on the Florida Panhandle to provide hot meals to the 5,500 children left HOMELESS as a result of Hurricane Michael.
This is one of the largest long-term disaster recovery projects we have taken on. The cost will be in excess of $200,000, but the need is that urgent in part because of this alarming fact:
To date, Congress has not allocated even ONE DOLLAR of disaster relief for Hurricane Michael victims -- despite the fact that this was the third-largest storm ever to hit the U.S. and was just upgraded to a Category Five hurricane!Read more
As we celebrate the Easter season, we are reminded that our hope rests entirely on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! As Matthew's Gospel records:
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
He is risen indeed!
Thank you for partnering with Mercy Chefs, and may the resurrection of Christ fill your heart and your home!
Gary and Ann LeBlanc
We are facing a post-hurricane humanitarian crisis on the Florida Panhandle unlike anything I have ever seen. This crisis has left THOUSANDS homeless at a time when key FEMA aid is shutting down -- making matters even worse.
In the past few weeks, I have been in close contact with city officials there regarding the situation. Hurricane Michael was the fourth largest storm in U.S. history -- but has received less aid than any hurricane that Mercy Chefs has ever seen. To exacerbate things, we just received word that FEMA recently cut funding for temporary housing. With 40% of all buildings in Panama City still uninhabitable and funds drying up, thousands are being forced to the streets. Reports indicate at least 5,500 children are now homeless, and with summer coming, they will be without access to regular meals. (Bay County only reported 858 homeless students prior to the hurricane.)
What has happened in Panama City and the Florida Panhandle is the greatest gap between need and relief that I have seen in the history of Mercy Chefs. It is tragic, and the victims are good people -- families and children who are suffering, many living on the streets or in tent cities. But God is making a way...Read more
As you know, we've been busy finalizing our plans to rebuild the Haiti kitchen that was destroyed by fire. I must move quickly to secure the funding due to the aggressive goal of having the kitchen rebuilt by early June.
God has done amazing things through this kitchen. He placed Mercy Chefs' kitchen right at the epicenter of a powerful mission that is leading a restoration of this entire region -- reaching more than 100,000 residents!Read more
As I've shared, it was a real "gut punch" when I first learned that our kitchen in Haiti has been destroyed by fire. My team prepared a video of our time in Haiti designed to give you a taste of why my heart is so moved by these wonderful people and this important mission:Read more