On November 26, 2015, Dr. Richard Christensen was killed in a hit-and-run accident while in Zambia on a Habitat for Humanity build. He made it his life’s work to provide psychiatric services to underserved populations, especially homeless individuals in Gainesville and Jacksonville.
Dr. Christensen, in addition to serving as the director of Behavioral Health Services at the Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville, was also a professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida. One patient described him as “the embodiment of unconditional love.”
In the year following his death, colleagues, students, friends and former patients have united in various coalitions to remember him through service.
A pioneer of and perhaps the first to practice street psychiatry, Dr. Christensen would go out at least once a week in the Sulzbacher Center’s “Hope Van,” locating and serving individuals who lived outdoors. Though most of us lack the knowledge and credentials to prescribe medications, a simple way of helping individuals who happen to be homeless is by carrying and giving them a “manna bag,” a practice both Dr. Christensen and the Sulzbacher Center endorsed.
Taking its name from the biblical idea of “manna from heaven,” or God-given sustenance, a manna bag is small enough to be carried in a purse and contains basic necessities that could ease the difficulties of living on the street.
St. Francis House
Temporary shelter for adults and children; daily lunches; case management and referral services; tutoring for children; free toiletries and showers; free public phone; clothing vouchers.
- 413 S. Main St.
Temporary shelter for adults; intake and referral; breakfast and dinner; assistance with public benefits sign up; showers and restrooms; outdoor shelter pavilion. Open 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- 3055 NE 28th Ave.
Helping Hands Clinic
Healthcare for men and women on Mondays, with patient sign-up beginning at 2:30 p.m. and last patient seen at 7:00 p.m.; services and showers for just women on Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- 509 NE First St.
Domestic Abuse Shelter and Recovery Programs.
- 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 352-377-8255
- Toll-free number: 1-800-500-1119
- 2100 NW 53rd Ave. A
- Monday-Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Meridian Behavioral Healthcare
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment.
- 24 Hour Crisis Line: 352-374-5600
- Toll Free Number: 1-800-330-5615
- 4300 SW 13th St.