A ribbon-cutting ceremony held July 2 at Sulzbacher, 611 E. Adams St., marked the opening of the men’s career closet, a free clothing store for Sulzbacher clients seeking employment.
JTA Cares, an employee-driven, community-focused program of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), teamed up with Sulzbacher to open the free boutique, which is a companion program to the Goodwill Job Junction that operates out of Sulzbacher’s campus.
The neatly arranged closet is filled with suits, jackets, slacks, shoes and ties that are available to men living at Sulzbacher or utilizing the Urban Rest Stop – a place for street people to go during the day to get connected to services, take a shower, have access to laundry and more – allowing them to “shop” for something to wear to job interviews.
“The way that complex issues get solved is through partnerships. Cross center partnerships, interagency partnerships, but no one sector or one agency or one organization can solve problems, big problems, by themselves,” said Cindy Funkhauser, CEO of Sulzbacher.
As the area’s largest provider of services to homeless people in the area, Sulzbacher houses 360 members of the community – most of whom are women and children. Their services include street outreach, daily meals, safe shelter, case management, veteran’s services, job training and placement, comprehensive medical care and permanent housing.
The East Adams Street location is for men only, with women and families being housed at Sulzbacher Village, a complex opened in 2018 on the Northside, that has 70 subsidized, permanent housing units for women and families. Additionally, there are about 30 units to accommodate women and families needing medical respite and short-term emergency housing. Sulzbacher Village also has an early learning center, and a pediatric health center that serves its residents as well as children in the surrounding community.
Kevin Holzendorf, JTA board chairman, said the JTA’s role in Jacksonville goes well beyond just providing transit or building roads and sidewalks. “It’s about making our community a better place, and that starts with making sure people have the tools they need to pursue their dreams.”
The JTA Cares team has taken on the task of making sure that people who are homeless have those tools by way of stocking and maintaining the clothes closet with donations from JTA employees. They also stock and maintain a free clothing boutique for women at Sulzbacher Village.
Nathaniel Ford, CEO of JTA and a board member of Goodwill Industries of North Florida, said that together, the agencies and organizations that brought forth the men’s clothes closet have been able to do some great things. “I think Jacksonville’s future is very bright because of our culture of pulling together to help people.”
For more information about Sulzbacher, visit sulzbacherjax.org. For more information about JTA Cares, visit jtafla.com/jta-cares.