The Daily News reported in January that the small men’s shelter in the Sylvania Heights neighborhood was trying to raise money for a new unit after the 40-year-old system broke.
JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn
FORT WALTON BEACH — Thanks to a small fundraising effort and dozens of anonymous donations, the Home of Grace has a new HVAC unit.
The Daily News reported in January that the small men’s shelter in the Sylvania Heights neighborhood was trying to raise money for a new unit after the 40-year-old system broke. During cold winter nights, shelter residents resorted to extra blankets and space heaters.
The Home of Grace of Northwest Florida is converted from an old church. The shelter is run completely by volunteers and with donations; it does not receive government funding.
A friend of the shelter who preferred not to be named started to organize a fundraiser to buy the new HVAC system. An account was set up at Coastal Bank, and within three weeks raised $5,974 with donations from 44 people.
“It was unbelievable,” said Eileen Underwood, one the shelter’s volunteers. “We want to thank the people for being so generous, but a majority of donors were anonymous.”
Not only did the Home of Grace raise the money needed for a new system, but Holt Phillips offered the unit and labor at a discounted rate. The new unit was installed Feb. 14. The money left over from the fundraiser will go toward a service contract to keep the system running, Underwood said.
Home of Grace Director Willie Harmon said the donations were a “true blessing.”
“It’s very overwhelming that people cared enough to reach out,” he said. “There’s no way we could have done it alone. I just had to trust and believe in God.”
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