Habitat for Humanity

Tallahassee’s Habitat for Humanity got its start at First Presbyterian Church.  We have a long history of support for the organization through participating in building projects and special offerings. 

Homelessness in Leon County

The Compassion and Social Justice Team is engaged in a number of activities to deal with problems of homelessness in our community. We participate in the yearly count of homeless, we support programs geared to temporary housing for families, youth and single men and women, and we partner with the Big Bend Continuum of Care, the primary coordinating body dealing with local homelessness.

History of the The Shelter, Renaissance Center and Kearney Center

After several men froze to death on Tallahassee’s streets in 1986, First Presbyterian Church opened a makeshift overnight shelter in its basement for a few dozen men seeking refuge from the cold. The group operating at First Presbyterian become known as Tallahassee Cold Nights Shelter.

Two years later, the Shelter became incorporated and registered as a non-profit agency, and in 1991, the Shelter moved to a new home on West Tennessee Street. For the next two decades, the Shelter experienced tremendous growth and expanded their services to meet diverse client needs. Two of the major expansions of the Shelter were the food program (consisting of community volunteers, churches, and civic groups preparing meals) and the onsite medical clinic.

Although the Shelter was capable of providing individuals with overnight shelter and three meals per day, they did not have the capacity to offer daytime support services. This need was recognized by a group of community partners that included business owners, social service agencies, and concerned citizens. A small warehouse adjacent to the Shelter was purchased and transformed into the Renaissance Community Center (RCC). The RCC served as a venue where multiple service providers could operate in one location and accommodate clients needing social, physical, mental, and educational support services.

The Shelter and the RCC worked together to serve the same population, and subsequently shared many mutual clients. Due to the high volume of clients utilizing its services, the RCC quickly outgrew its facility. The Shelter had already been operating over capacity for years and the need for a new emergency shelter was apparent. In 2010-2013 several organizations and congregations, including First Presbyterian and First Baptist, revived the “Cold Nights Shelter” to serve people who could not be accommodated at the Shelter on nights when the weather was forecast to be especially cold.

In April 2015, the Shelter and Renaissance Community Center moved into a single building to better meet the needs of its growing population, and less than a year later, the two agencies merged and officially became The Kearney Center.

The Kearney Center partners with community organizations to offer a host of programs. Committed staff members work to meet the diverse needs of this population, and engage them in a variety of activities that help to foster self-sufficiency while preserving their dignity.

The combined efforts of The Kearney Center and its partners have produced an outstanding sense of community that is inspiring others to get involved in local efforts to end homelessness.