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Cherry Street Mission seeks director

Cherry Street Mission Ministries is looking for a new director following the resignation of the Rev. Jim Watson last month over philosophical differences with the board.

The ministries' longtime director, Don Andrews, who had become executive director-emeritus when Mr. Watson was hired, was named interim director a few days after the resignation, said Fred Haase, president of the trustees.

The agency has 28 full-time employees and a $1.8 million annual budget at the 54-year-old Cherry Street Mission and its affiliated emergency shelter for women, Sparrow's Nest. In all, the shelters and associated housing have more than 100 beds.

Mr. Haase said a resignation letter from Mr. Watson, who was director for about eight months, disappointed the board. But it was not a surprise.

“I would say there were philosophical differences between Jim Watson and the board,” Mr. Haase said.

He declined to elaborate and Mr. Watson declined to comment, saying only that his leaving was a personal matter and he has not started another job.

Mansour Bey, former director of men's ministries at the mission, said, “Cherry Street Mission has been serving the Toledo community faithfully for 54 years. I'm confident it will continue. Anything it may be going through now is just a bump in the road.”

Mr. Bey's last day at the mission was Feb. 2. He declined to say what led to his separation from the mission or further explain what he felt the mission might be “going through now.”

Mr. Watson took charge of the ministries on July 1. He told The Blade last summer that in his work elsewhere he had gone head-to-head with drug dealers, gang members, pimps, prostitutes, and thieves, and figured he was alive only because he had learned how to gain the trust of street people.

His retirement savings had been spent on turning a drug den in one of the seediest parts of Bridgeport, Conn., into a homeless shelter called the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, he said.

Mr. Watson was hired after what Mr. Haase said was a nationwide search that took four to five months. The board again has a search committee and is working with the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions “looking for a godly man willing to help the homeless and disenfranchised,” he said.

The position, which calls for fund-raising and daily operations and spiritual leadership of the shelters, pays up to $55,000 a year, depending on experience, Mr. Haase said.

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