DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The executive director of First Step Shelter Inc., a city-run project and nonprofit aiming to provide shelter for Daytona Beach’s homeless population, is resigning.

Mark Geallis provided his letter of resignation to Mayor Derrick Henry, who is also the chairman and president of the nonprofit, last Wednesday.

In the letter, Geallis cited “changes to the project” as the reason behind his resignation.

The First Step Shelter project has faced delays since it was introduced to city leaders in 2016. Officials finally broke ground on the shelter in December 2017 and said it was their goal to open it in May 2018, but according to the project’s website, the shelter is now expected to be completed in September 2019.

At a City Hall meeting with First Step Shelter's Board Monday, Geallis said it was "impossible to raise money" for the project because of a lack of a "clear direction," along with the absence of the building itself. 

"It’s very hard to fundraise when you don’t have a lease, when you don’t know exactly what you’re fundraising for. People don’t give to a concept -- they give to solid ideas,” he said.
He also says the board has restricted almost $900,000 of their funding to only be used after the building opens, though he said there’s a lot of expenses to pay for before that happens. Mayor Henry said Geallis should have known he was hired to raise money.
Many members of the board also expressed their disappointment with the shelter's progress during the meeting.

Geallis said his last day in the position will be July 23 in his resignation letter, but after the board meeting, he revised his last day of work to be June 1. The board accepted the decision unanimously. 

He isn't bitter -- Geallis said his resignation is helping the board finally get focused on its mission to help homeless people in Volusia County get off the streets.