The Changing Future of Miracle Hill: Fundraising Launched for

A special committee has raised more than $102,000 in an effort to stop the sale of the historic Miracle Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation to a largely unknown buyer.

The committee issued a letter Aug. 15 to Early Baptist churches and their supporters as a call to action. The committee has asked each church to raise $1,000 and hopes to raise $1 million by September 20.

The Reverend James Chester, pastor of Zion Primitive Orthodox Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, chairs the committee and said he believes the fundraising efforts will make a difference. The donations, he said, will help ease Miracle Hill’s financial burden.

“I believe people will rally to be able to keep it,” Chester said.

Miracle Hill in the headlines:

Speakers and supporters gather for the start of a fundraiser in support of Miracle Hill on Thursday August 11, 2022 in Tallahassee, Florida.

A staple of the black community at risk

Miracle Hill is a 120-bed nursing and rehabilitation center located at 1329 Abraham Street, although it has been an integral part of the black community for over half a century and is widely known throughout the ‘State.

Many revere the facility for its legacy dating back to the late 1960s. It provided a safe haven for black men and women in their twilight years who needed health care at a time when options were few in the Jim Crow era.

The facility is governed by the Florida State Primitive Baptist Church Convention, a statewide coalition of churches and pastors led by its own board of trustees.

Financial difficulties over the years have put the establishment in debt. His financial difficulties came to a head last month.

Speakers and supporters gather for the start of a fundraiser in support of Miracle Hill on Thursday August 11, 2022 in Tallahassee, Florida.

An emergency call last month from the Rev. Willie Williams, chairman of the executive committee of the Florida State Primitive Baptist Conventions, alerted members to the need to pay $150,000 that day to make payroll. Williams also revealed a $12 million offer to buy the 15,000 square foot facility, some said on the call.

Reverend Ernest Ferrell of Tallahassee, who supports stopping the sale, said the donations would be used for a $400,000 loan and another $200,000 loan. He said an additional $300,000 would be used to pay “several people who loaned money to Miracle Hill.”

“This is by no means an attempt to match $12 million. That’s not the goal,” said Ferrell, former president of Florida State Primitive Baptist Church. “We are trying to raise funds to pay off a preliminary debt.”

At the same time, Ferrell said the committee hopes to purchase the facility for some time and convince facility management to refinance Miracle Hill’s existing mortgage.

Longtime pastor of St. Mary's Primitive Baptist Church, Reverend Ernest Ferrell, seen here at the church on Friday, August 3, 2018, has retired from his position as President and CEO of the Tallahassee Urban League after 48 years of service.

“This effort will not save Miracle Hill”

Miracle Hill makers have been tight-lipped since news of the potential sale became public.

When reached for comment, the Reverend Willie Williams, president of the Florida State Primitive Baptist Convention, declined to provide details regarding loans to the facility and details about the company interested in the facility. installation purchase.

“This effort will not save Miracle Hill because the information is grossly inaccurate,” Williams said in an email to the Democrat on Wednesday.

In a follow-up conversation, Williams declined to elaborate on what was specifically inaccurate.

“These individuals who are providing you with this false information, they have all the information they need to tell the truth. At this point, that’s the last thing I’m going to tell you,” he said before posting. end the call.

The Miracle Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center celebrates its 50th anniversary this month.

How donations are collected

At this time, a clear picture of Miracle Hill’s finances is not available to the public.

In a previous Tallahassee Democrat article, Williams said the convention has three priorities: keeping Miracle Hill operational; make sure those who work for Miracle Hill keep their jobs and get paid; and repay outstanding loans.

If Miracle Hill is sold, Williams said, it will continue to operate under new ownership. However, it is unclear whether the church would have a role in the installation.

Chester said the identity of the potential buyer comes from Williams, who did not share this information with members of the Primitive Baptist Convention.

“It all comes from him,” Chester said. “We should all know that, but we can only know if he leaks that information.”

The Special Committee to Save Miracle Hill encourages donations not to be made directly to the retirement home. Instead, Chester said donations are being made to the Philadelphia Community Foundation, PO Box 6675, Tallahassee, Fla. 32314.

Speakers and supporters gather for the start of a fundraiser in support of Miracle Hill on Thursday August 11, 2022 in Tallahassee, Florida.

Additionally, donations can be made through a GoFundMe account: If Miracle Hill is sold, Chester said the donations will be returned if the effort fails.

“If, for example, that doesn’t stop it, then we have the option of refunding people the money,” Chester said.

Contact TaMaryn Waters at [email protected] or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.

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