Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on nonprofit organizations that improve North Okaloosa County residents’ quality of life.
CRESTVIEW — Crestview residents have launched a nonprofit, Bright Future Ministries, with the goal of helping homeless people rebuild their lives. Charles Salis Jr. and his wife, Candice, along with his father, Charles Salis Sr. of Detroit, Michigan, are setting the groundwork to establish a local shelter.
Charles Jr. said the idea to form Bright Future Ministries grew when he worked as a manager at the McDonald's on US Highway 90 in Crestview.
"I noticed a lot of homeless people that would want to come in and just cool off, and try and get something to eat, so I began to talk to them and many just needed a little help to get back on their feet. And that the shelters we have only give them a place to sleep, but offer no programs to help them start their lives over," the Crestview resident said.
Further research on the issue is what gave him and his wife the motivation to research homelessness and current shelters in Crestview.
"We learned that most shelters in our area don’t allow families to stay together in the shelter. The mother and children must go to one location and the father to another. And if the father has kids and is single, in most cases (they) have no place to stay together."
Charles Jr. resigned from the McDonald's manager position to be able to focus full time on establishing Bright Future Ministries. He, his wife and father plan to provide emergency shelter to homeless individuals and families within the next year, and provide them with the items they need to feel normal, Charles Jr. said. This includes things like clothes, shoes, socks, underwear and toiletries.
After it is established, the goal is to eventually expand the shelter to a full-service site, with skills training, discounted daycare to low-income families, employment services and two meals a day to any homeless persons. Services would also include Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous assistance, and help getting a General Education Diploma.
His wife said that helping in homeless shelters requires unconditional love and compassion for people of all kinds. "A person must be able to see everyone through the eyes of love … kindness is not just an act — it is a lifestyle," Candice said.
To better assist the people they want to help, the Salises acquired degrees in social work and other categories. "The degrees each of us hold will allow us to help a greater number of people," Charles Jr. said.
The former Eglin aircraft weapons loader and police officer has a master's in business administration and healthcare management. He also served as a firefighter temporarily at North Okaloosa Fire District.
Candice is currently working toward her master's in psychology. She is a BFM Board of Directors member and secretary, has a Bachelor of Science in forensic psychology, and associate of science degrees in paralegal studies and medical coding and billing.
Charles Salis Sr. is a licensed master social worker. He holds a bachelor of science in psychology and a master of science in social work, and serves as a member at large of the ministry's board of directors.
WANT TO HELP?
Interested persons may make a donation in person or online at http://brightfutureministries.webs.com to contribute to the Bright Future Ministries mission. They may also like, share, or follow www.facebook.com/BrightFutureMinistries/.