Extreme Makeover: Mission Edition: Waterfront Mission hosts Destin fundraiser to renovate kitchen

Jennie McKeon
The kitchen inside the Fort Walton Beach Mission has not been renovated since the mission opened in 1985. Executive Director Brian Ekedahl hopes to use funds raised to replace appliances such as the walk-in freezer and dish sanitizer.

While the Waterfront Rescue Mission is more than a quick stop for rest and a hot meal, it is those shelter services that the non-profit is known for.

And after 27 years and nearly one million meals, the kitchen inside the Fort Walton mission has seen better days. Which is why the Waterfront Rescue Mission is hosting "The Great Mission Kitchen Makeover," a dinner and auction to raise money to renovate and refurbish the busy kitchen.

The Waterfront Mission has three locations: Mobile, Pensacola and Fort Walton. Mobile and Pensacola have both undergone beautiful renovations and just last year, the Fort Walton Mission was able to repair their roof with the Art For a Change fundraiser.

The Fort Walton mission's executive director Brian Ekedahl is hoping next weeks fundraiser is equally successful.

Fundraisers typically make their way to the beautiful venues of Destin and Walton County. Even though there isn't a physical location in the area, Ekedahl said the community is very supportive of the Waterfront Mission.

"I would love to see an arm [of the mission] in the Walton County area," Ekedahl said. "I'm working on it."

However, the mission's doors are open to anyone seeking help, no matter what county they live in.

"The Great Mission Kitchen Makeover" will feature dinner, live entertainment from Al Martin, a jazz/blues pianist, door prizes as well as silent and live auctions. Charles Mielke, owner of Four Seasons Market in Pensacola and graduate of the Waterfront Rescue Mission Career Development Program, will give his testimony of the good work the mission does in the community.

Through various programs, the Waterfront Rescue Mission serves the needs of the poor, addicted, abused and homeless, by helping them take control of life-dominating issues and become productive, responsible citizens, Ekedahl said.

"We are here to help the homeless and sometimes the hopeless become happy individuals — through Jesus Christ," Ekedahl added. "He is the true architect of change."

The auctions items were hand-picked by Ekedahl through the Charity Fundraising Packages website. Searching through the database of celebrity items and memorabilia, he chose items that would have mass appeal, such as an electric guitar signed by all five members of The Rolling Stones, an autographed, acoustic guitar signed by Jimmy Buffett, an autographed photo of Ronald Reagan, a "Star Wars" poster signed by ten members of cast and crew and a signed Frank Sinatra record. You can also bid on a NASCAR experience for two and a trip for two to Paris.

Silent auction items include resort packages, dinners, artwork and golf items from Edwin Watts Golf.

"It will be a very casual event with good food and entertainment," Ekedahl said. "Essentially it will be like a party in the living room."

Want to go?

"The Great Mission Kitchen Makeover" will be April 27 from 5 to 8 p.m. at The Palms of Destin Resort and Conference Center, 4201 Indian Bayou Trail. Tickets are $75 with all proceeds benefiting Waterfront Rescue Mission. You can purchase tickets by calling Brian Ekedahl at 420-8543. For more information about the mission, visit