Frances Jennings

Frances Jennings

By Julie Kerns Garmendia           

Resident Community News

Frances Jennings, an Avondale resident for more than 50 years, has seen people’s lives transformed when they find help, motivation and dignity through City Rescue Mission programs.

Her belief in those programs has led her to volunteer for more than 20 years in many roles, from receptionist to teaching weekly Bible classes. She has organized retreats off-site for those in the programs and on-site to introduce community groups to the Mission. She coordinates group donations of toiletries and comfort items.

Jennings goal? At age 86, she wants to recruit younger volunteers and continue to tell others what caring kindness can do, the pure joy of helping those in need to a better life.

Jennings_03        “There are so many success stories to share, so many have turned their lives around. Although I can no longer do as much, I prayed for two years for someone to take over teaching the classes. I’m a firm believer that we must pass on our efforts to others so that the work will continue,” she said. “A young woman from Lakewood who was in one of my classes years ago when she was just fifteen, remembers thinking that she’d like to help others too…she is now teaching the women’s classes!”

Sherry Warren, City Rescue Mission Volunteer Coordinator, explained how Jennings was proactive. She organized dinners, holiday projects or activities to bring churches, clubs, potential employers and others to the Mission to interact, build relationships and see first-hand the needs and possibilities. She has helped organize fundraising events, like an upcoming musical concert by Pastor Tony Chance, a former entertainer, to be held at Avondale United Methodist Church in October.

“Mrs. Jennings is a longtime volunteer who has raised awareness of the Mission and its programs throughout the community. She built strong support connections all by herself over many years,” Warren said.

Jennings also speaks compassionately of families and friends of those in programs at the Mission. She is aware that many privately struggle with difficult life situations. As a result, she has planned retreats to inform and support families of those in Mission programs.

Jennings loves living in Avondale and remembers when she and her late husband, David struggled to pay their $129 dollar monthly mortgage. She’s often asked why she did not go into ministry, especially after completing her master’s degree in Theology. As an infant adopted by loving parents and blessed with a joyful life, she felt called to teach and help others. The Jennings had four children and now seven grandchildren.

She has bicycled all over the world with International Bicycle Tours and completed the Bike MS (Multiple Sclerosis) 150 mile charity bike ride. She served on the State Conference for the Methodist Church and completed four mission trips to Cuba. For years she volunteered at The Vineyard International Christian Sports Camp in Westfield, North Carolina.

Jennings_01    Jennings said the City Rescue Mission receives no government funding and is a successful example of what a community can achieve. She encourages readers to visit the McDuff Avenue or Downtown location, see first-hand the programs, meet the clients, donate or volunteer. She believes a wonderful way to leave a lasting legacy of caring for others is through regular giving or to include the Mission in will or estate planning.

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