We are compassionate people united through a Christ-centered organization that acts as a hub for diverse social services and community resources. We maximize these combined efforts to rescue people out of poverty, addictions, homelessness and human trafficking.
They were all part of the inspirational sparks that later became the PENSACOLA DREAM CENTER.
The Dream Center Network had it's humble beginnings as a mission project in California in 1994 by Matthew Barnett and Tommy Barnett. Since then, more than 100 Dream Centers have been launched both nationally and internationally.
It wasn't until 2017 that the Pensacola Dream Center was established into the network, but our story starts several years before then.
Founder and Executive Director Terri Merrick recalls her first medical missions trip to Kolkata, India in 2009 and witnessed how poorly that people there live. "God literally cracked my heart open to the value of people; the value of souls and it changed my life forever."
Since that trip, she had a continual burden in her heart to help the marginalized that never went away. She longed to return to India, but as a single mother raising three daughters, that wasn't something that she felt was realistic. It was at that point when she heard the Holy Spirit nudge her, speaking into her spirit, "What about serving the people right where you live?"
At the time she was working at Sacred Heart Hospital and came across the opportunity to help serve food at a local homeless shelter. She wasn't sure how to talk to people in that situation, as she didn't want to ask them about where they lived or what kind of work they did, which was usual ice breaker questions when first meeting someone. As she was getting ready to leave her house, she kept feeling the Holy Spirit nudging her to get her scissors, so she grabbed them. When she got there, she had asked the coordinator if anyone would like to have their hair cut. As it turns out, that was the perfect way for her to serve, as people naturally talk when they're getting their hair cut. She casually had asked them what would they do if money wasn't an object, then they started opening up and sharing their dreams. She ended up cutting the hair of 14 people and never served any food that day.
She was inspired to continue to serve, so she started doing research for bigger ways to make an impact. She came across the Dream Center Network and was taken in by their programs, but was discouraged when she found out that it would cost $2500 per year to be a part of it. One of her daughters had set up a tip jar at the place that she worked at the time with a label that read, "Pensacola Dream Center Coming Soon." At the end of her shift, she had raised $20 and took it home to her mother to let her know that was the beginning of her fundraising efforts.
Terri had decided to start 17:28 Ministries so that she could keep track of the receipts that she was saving from her out-of-pocket efforts to serve the community. It was at a Bible study one evening that she shared her vision about starting up a Dream Center and about her daughter bringing home $20 to put towards it that one of the women came up to her with a check afterwards and said that she felt that her grandmother would have wanted for her to give it to her. It was in the amount of $2480, honoring the first $20 that her daughter had put towards it! Wow! God is so good!
Terri speaks fondly of the constant nudging from the Holy Spirit that kept her pursuing her dream. "When it's a God vision, it will not go go away," she spoke with assurance.
And that's how the Pensacola Dream Center began.
These are testimonies of people whose lives were completely changed, thanks to the L.A. Dream Center. We have similar stories here in the Pensacola area and are anticipating more.
"...Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me." - MATTHEW 25:40 ESV
"Find a need and fill it.
Find a hurt and heal it."
LA Dream Center Founder
"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
"People don't care
how much you know
until they know
how much you care."