In the late 30s and early 40s Jimmie Hale was known as the town drunk, but he eventually gave his life to Christ and began rewriting his story. Armed with a desire to share God’s life-changing love with others and to help those walking where he had, Jimmie set out to create a place where homeless men could find encouragement and hope.
Jimmie soon married Miss Jessie Davis, a school teacher from Moundville, Alabama, and the couple founded the Mission on March 25, 1944. Lives weren’t the only thing the 39-year-old was hoping to help reinvent as the first location was the same building where he had sold his last drink as a bartender.
Sadly, Jimmie passed away just eight months later due to health complications, leaving behind a 27-year-old widow, who was pregnant with their first child. Jessie refused to forfeit her commitment to the dream she and her husband shared, however, and her resolve would prove to be the foundation on which the Mission would stand for generations to come.
Jessie was an incredible woman of faith and dedication and ultimately kept the facility alive for more than a decade on her own before God called Leo Shepura to the work. In 1954, the duo served the first meal on Thanksgiving Day and began housing overnight guests. They would go on to lead one of the city’s most impactful non-profit organizations for 36 years.
Tony Cooper was named executive director in 1990 and he helped expand the Mission’s influence and outreach through the addition of numerous facilities and programs in his 29 years at the helm.
Royal Pines, a residential addiction recovery center for men opened in 1995 on 75 tranquil acres in Hayden, Alabama. Just three years later, women and children facing homelessness and other hardships began finding hope and empowerment at Jessie’s Place downtown.
After a three-year site expansion and renovation of the old Thomas School building, the men’s center relocated from the corner on 24th Street North to the current campus in 2007. The new facility allows the Mission to house more clients and includes a chapel and administration building.
The ribbon cutting for the first Mission Possible Bargain Center, a thrift store aimed at providing financial support for the ever-growing ministry, took place in 2000. Nineteen years and five locations later, the Mission transferred ownership of the stores to King’s Home, another local non-profit.
Discovery Clubs, after-class Bible programs for children in 30 Birmingham-area public elementary schools, came into the fold in 2012.
In November of 2019, the board of directors selected Michael Coleman to lead the Mission into its next chapter.
JIMMIE HALE MISSION
Downtown Jimmie Hale Mission, Inc. is a Christian-based, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, which includes a homeless shelter for men, a shelter for women and children, after-school Bible clubs, recovery programs, and three learning centers. This charity is often misspelled Jimmy Hale Mission.