North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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February 6, 2013

Doing Unto Others: Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist members serve the homeless at Jimmie Hale Mission

(Continued)

GARDENDALE —

History

The Gardendale group not only serves food, but it purchases the meal and makes other monetary donations as well. When groups support the mission in such a way, it helps keep the organization running, as it depends on donations to stay in operation.

The Jimmie Hale Mission is for men only; it’s counterpart, Jessie’s Place, cares for women and children.

Jimmie Hale — who was formerly known as the town drunk, according to the Jimmie Hale Mission website — opened the mission in 1944 as a shelter for the homeless along with his wife, Jessie. The first location of the mission was a storefront; in it, Hale had sold his last drink as a bartender, the website stated.

Eight months after opening the shelter, Jimmie Hale died at the age of 39 from the after-effects of many years of heavy drinking. Jessie, who was 27 and pregnant, continued their dream.

In 1954, Leo Shepura came on board to help Jessie; they worked together for the mission for 36 years.

Then in 1990, Tony Cooper became the mission’s executive director.

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