Mercy Support Services Historic Timeline:
- Eight faith-based organizations meet to share information on how to better serve the needy in Clay County by avoiding duplication of services - Originally named The Mercy Network.
- The Mercy Network members and Pinewood Presbyterian Church organize a countywide Spring Outreach Other outreaches like Back to School Free Shots and Physicals and the fall countywide Outreach are also supported.
- The Mercy Network President, André Van Heerden was referred by Project REACH to a homeless local grandmother with 5 grandchildren, living in her car, in need of services.
- The Mercy Network begins a Homeless Coalition, and actively seeks to engage local churches to help find her housing, collectively raising enough money to cover 3 families in hotel stay.
- André Van Heerden works with Mark Landshoot, Executive Director of Family Promise of Jacksonville, to duplicate Family Promise’s operating procedures in order to transition displaced families in the hotels to self-sufficiency.
- Becky Lunn, volunteers to do case management with the families in the newly formed program.
- The Orange Cove Seventh-day Adventist Church and Grace Anglican Church, participate with Family Promise of Jacksonville to accommodate homeless families in their churches.
- André Van Heerden was approached by Paul Frendahl, a member of Orange Park United Methodist Church, to help out with the Homeless Coalition. André and Paul begin working together and approach Orange Park United Methodist Church Leaders about supporting the Homeless Coalition.
- When André Van Heerden heard that Patrick Hayle had retired from the City Rescue Mission, he invited him to help establish the Homeless Coalition and organize the newly formed ministry. R. Patrick Hayle was elected as The Board Chairman of The Mercy Network Board.
- After 10 months of funding 3, and sometimes 4, families living in hotels, André Van Heerden was desperate to find less expensive accommodations for the families. On President’s Day, André is praying for God to provide a solution. Two hours later, Mike Serig calls André, having heard of all that The Mercy Network was doing via a Facebook post by his pastor, Brad Crews, and donates one of his rental homes to be used by displaced families.
- Orange Park United Methodist Church approves renting another home to provide even more housing.
- The new coalition steering committee consisted of André Van Heerden, Mike Serig, Bob Haber, Paul Frendahl and R. Patrick Hayle.
- Orange Park Medical Center donates a vacant building to The Mercy Network for 2 years. These became the first offices for The Mercy Network.
- The Mercy Network team initiated a Resource Referral Call Center, led by Frances Elia, which includes Janey Fox, first call center volunteer, along with Kathy Garske, Cathy Sanders, Anita King and Loretta Foster.
- Frances Elia was integral in the growth and knowledge of the Center until her passing in 2017.
- Frances Elia, Janey Fox and Kathy Garske, the chief grant writers, were instrumental in writing the proposal for the 501(c)3.
- The Mercy Network team invites Celebration Church to kick off the first Adopt-a-Group-Home program for homeless families by sending 4 teams to each adopt a group home for one week. They provided and served meals and helped with furnishings.
- Mercy Support Services, Inc. (MSS), a 501 (c) (3) was incorporated as a separate entity, an umbrella for programs and services in Clay County, to better serve those in need.
- André Van Heerden creates the new TREE logo for Mercy Support Services which symbolizes how Mercy Support Services grew out of a network of compassionate hearted people (the large branches) who, in turn, support people in crisis (the smaller branches).
- Patrick Hayle was later appointed as Executive Director, bringing extensive knowledge and experience from his years of serving the homeless, most recently at the City Rescue Mission in Jacksonville, FL.
- During an expo of social services, hosted by Challenge Enterprises at the Celebration Church, André Van Heerden was approached by prominent Clay County Attorney, John Kopelousos, who had heard about the supportive houses that were being rented for displaced families. He informed André that the Clay County Housing Finance Authority had substantial funding that could be used to buy houses that could be used by Mercy Support Services. André, Patrick and Bob Haber did a presentation to the Housing Finance Authority and were appropriated enough funding to buy three homes.
- A prayer room within the office is designated for a weekly prayer group, led by Juliet Van Heerden. The group continues to pray for God’s protection and connection with those in Clay County who are in the most need.
- MSS formed relationships with elected officials of the federal and state governments and acted as liaison between their offices and constituents to secure services for them. Involved in these partnerships were Congressman Ted Yoho, Sen. Rob Bradley, Rep. Travis Cummings and others.
- Classes began by MSS staff, monthly, for individuals from local churches and other volunteers who were interested in becoming advocates/mentors to group home residents. Dozens were trained.
- Community Action Teams (CATs) were formed to help individuals recover from catastrophes, disasters, storm damage, etc.
- Through partnership with the Clay County Housing Finance Authority, Mercy was awarded money to purchase its first group home which was located on Paddock in Orange Park. Several church groups in Clay County united to move the household contents from the rented Mercy Group Home to this facility.
- MSS holds first Annual Benefit Concert fundraiser at First Baptist Church of Orange Park, with several praise and worship bands from area churches, coordinated by Heather Clark.
- Joelle Marquis, an Organization Development Specialist, met the Board to help revise the strategic plan.
- Celebrate Clay awards Mercy with the Paul E. Reinhold Community Service Award of $10,000.
- Kathy Garske (Volunteer), Janey Fox (Volunteer), Selena Hayle, R. Patrick Hayle, (CEO), Bob Haber (VP of Operations), Ro Haber, (Volunteer) and André Van Heerden, (VP of Networking & Partnerships) attended the prestigious Reinhold Foundation Non-profit Training.
- MSS moves administrative offices to second of the purchased properties located on Canova Road in Fleming Island, where they would remain until 2016, at which time the operation was moved to Orange Park.
- Clay SafetyNet Alliance (formerly Mercy Network) was renamed for more collaboration among all of the non-profits in Clay County and to avoid cross-over services. Each month, dozens of local agencies and churches gather to share information and identify gaps and duplication in services, creating a more efficient and streamlined process for everyone.
- MSS purchases two quadruplex apartment buildings on Filmore Drive in Orange Park for a total of 8 apartments for residents.
- MSS organizes a team for the Emergency Support Function of Clay County to assist during times of emergencies.
- MSS holds Second Annual Benefit Concert at Celebration Church in Orange Park. The event MC was local Christian radio personality, Theresa from The Promise Radio.
- Libby Wilson Banks, volunteer Executive Assistant to Patrick Hayle, named "2014 Volunteer Woman of the Year" for Clay County. She volunteered 40-60 hours per week from 2012-2016.
- Grand Opening of the Mercy Quadruplex.
- The First Annual Fundraising Gala “An Evening of International Cuisine” is held at First Baptist of Orange Park.
- The Volunteer Appreciation Event is held at Celebration Church. André Van Heerden was awarded the Pillars of Mercy for his volunteer leadership.
- The Annual Gala “Inspire Hope” is held at Hilltop Restaurant.
- Patrick Hayle, André Van Heerden, Robert Cowie, Joelle Marquis, Pearl Boles attended the prestigious Reinhold Foundation Non-profit Training.
- Frances Elia, Janey Fox and Kathy Garske attended a training for resources on grant writing, conducted by The Non-Profit Center.
- 2015 Mercy Third Annual Benefit Concert was held at the Celebration Church, Orange Park Campus, featuring praise bands from Christ's Church, Freedom Destiny Church, Journey Church and Theresa from The Promise Radio.
- MSS receives award/grant from Duval County Rotary to place security cameras and monitoring equipment at both quadruplexes on Filmore Drive.
- 2015 BOARD OF DIRECTORS included: Robert Haber, Pearl Boles, Robert Cowie, Ana Hartman, Joelle Marquis, Janice Martin, Mike Serig, Ken Stivers, Eric Twisdale, André Van Heerden, Rich Zeisel.
- Patrick Hayle was awarded the Executive Director of the year award at the Reinhold Foundation's Celebrate Clay Awards Breakfast.
- Champions for Mercy Gala Dinner is held at Thrasher-Horne Center. Honorable Chair is Jack Myers.
- JoLynn Carter and Jeff Boyer began to volunteer.
- The Volunteer Appreciation Event is held at Celebration Church’s Loft
- Wayne Humphrey, Bridgette Davis, Libby Wilson Banks, JoLynn Carter attended the prestigious Reinhold Foundation Non-profit Training.
- 2016 BOARD OF DIRECTORS OFFICERS include: Patrick Hayle, Robert Cowie, André Van Heerden, Mike Serig, Joelle Marquis, Robert Haber, Pearl Boles, Janice Martin, Ken Stivers, and Rich Zeisel.
- Jeff Boyer joins Mercy as Director of Resource Development, bringing his seasoned experience from the YMCA expansions and development.
- Frances Walters begins as Lead Care Agent after two years of part-time work in the call center.
- Dena Collins joins Mercy as Director of Programs, managing the growing Self-Sufficiency Programs.
- Mary Horner is hired to manage the entire facilities for the individuals and families in the Mercy Self-Sufficiency program. She is instrumental in curriculum development and training of the volunteers, as well as expansion of the Adopt-a-Supportive-Home program for church partnerships.
- Jeff Boyer, R. Patrick Hayle, JoLynn Carter, Janey Fox, and Kathy Garske attended the prestigious Reinhold Foundation Non-profit Training.
- Reinhold Foundation recognized Mercy at the Celebrate Clay Breakfast. Mercy was the recipient of a Special Judges Award, and André Van Heerden was also named Peggy Bryan Volunteer of the Year. Both awards included a financial award that will help Mercy continue to provide services in our community.
- Hurricane Irma hits, resulting in the formation of Recovering Clay, a special project under Mercy Support. Chaired by Joelle Marquis, Sophie Dentiste is asked to help coordinate efforts part-time, with a Board consisting of local stakeholders.
- Recovering Clay is initially funded $100,000 from Senator Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings, and a grant from First Coast Relief Fund of $38,000.
- A benefits concert is held at Thrasher- Horne Center with singers from Curt Towne band, Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special. A portion of proceeds, $32,888.32 is gifted to Recovering Clay.
- The 4th Annual Champions for Mercy Gala is held at the Thrasher-Horne Center with Honorary Chair, CC Sheriff Darryl Daniels. The Keynote Speaker, John Thrasher, sat at Jim Horne’s
- Sophie Dentiste is hired as Administrative Assistant to Director R. Patrick Hayle.
- Sophie Dentiste and Dena Collins attended the prestigious Reinhold Foundation Non-profit Training.
- The Inaugural Jack Myer’s Champions for Mercy Golf Tournament at Eagle Harbor netted over 15k, with 102 golfers in attendance.
- The newest group of Care & Financial Coaches completed the 8-hour Mercy Care Training, totaling over 20 volunteer Care Coaches in the program to date.
- Faith Manual-McKenney is hired to assist Frances Walters with intake as the call center intake grows.
- The 5th Annual Champions for Mercy Gala “Light the Path to Self-Sufficiency” is held at Thrasher-Horne with Honorary Chair - Van Royal and Keynote Speaker – John Ashmen.