Waterfront Rescue Mission in Milton has been serving the local community since 1949

By Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

While not everyone has time to do volunteer work, volunteering can be as simple as donating items or going shopping.

The Waterfront Rescue Mission has been serving the local community since 1949, and operates thrift stores across the Emerald Coast to generate funds to serve homeless and drug addicted locals.

Angie Ishee, PR spokesperson for the Mission, said that the need to address addiction and mental health issues locally became the core mission of Waterfront.

“We exist to serve the homeless and addicted along the Gulf Coast,” she said. “Our goal is to assist those dealing with life dominating issues by providing local assistance and coordinating with other organizations to facilitate recovery and provide jobs.”

Customer Christine Barr makes a purchase at the Waterfront Rescue Mission recently.

Ishee explained that there is a great cost associated with operating recovery programs; thus the idea of thrift stores was born.

“Who knew that you could donate furniture, household items, or clothing, and that your donation would help someone overcome their life-threatening issues,” she said.

The Waterfront Rescue Mission has been serving the local community since 1949

The Avalon Boulevard store is safety conscious and goes beyond mandated protocols to ensure that customers have a healthy environment shop in.

Angie Bell, the manager of the Avalon Boulevard store, is herself a shopper at her store.

”In addition to our cleaning procedures, we restock our merchandise several times a day as donations come in, and so there is always something new and interesting to check out,” Bell said.

Customer Christine Barr is a regular who said she shops here for “the great prices on things you just can’t find elsewhere.”

While Waterfront’s main treatment campus is in Pensacola, the Avalon Boulevard store in Milton is the fourth highest revenue producer in their system.

Employee Gabriel Rider receives donated items at the Waterfront Rescue Mission.

“This speaks highly of the folks who live around here, because their donations and shopping trips enable us to provide more services to our homeless guests.” Ishee said. “Pensacola is home to our largest homeless shelter, so people in need locally have easy access to all that we offer.”

Twenty-two employees and 245 annual volunteers staff the Avalon Boulevard thrift store.

“The Milton community is very supportive of our work here,” Ishee said. “This community is so generous that Waterfront generated $260,000 in 2020 just by recycling what we couldn’t sell in the store.”