The Power of the Free Market: Interview with Fred Clayton

The Power of the Free Market: Interview with Fred Clayton

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Fred B. Clayton

President and CEO, Orlando Union Rescue Mission

Freddy Clayton is a fifth-generation Floridian who joined the Board of Directors of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission in 2010. He served as Vice Chairman until he became President and CEO in 2015. He began his professional career as a lawyer, handling litigation in state and federal trial and appellate courts, and left the practice of law to enter business. He co-founded and sold two successful businesses, the first of which manufactures systems that generate and dispense fragrances for commercial applications. The second company creates and distributes interactive, web-based training programs for medical personnel. He received his A.B. from Davidson College and his J.D. (with honors) from the University of Florida College of Law. He and Susan, his bride of 40 years, raised their two grown sons in Orlando. Freddy and Susan are members of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Orlando, where they have been active in leadership roles and various ministries since they joined the church 30 years ago.

One of our significant efforts over the past two years is to educate the community about the Mission’s programs and objectives. Most folks think we are a shelter for slightly dangerous men, and that we house those guys every night, feed them supper and breakfast, and then release them every morning to torment nearby neighborhoods. That impression is hugely misleading. Our ministries focus on long-term residential programs that equip our guests to escape homelessness permanently. Guests live with us for an extended period, typically from six months to two years, while they get the education training, counseling, and other assistance to enable them to live independently and self-sufficiently for the rest of their lives. We have two major facilities – our Men’s Home where 120 single men live with us, and our Family Home, where we serve 136 men, women, and children. Everything – food, shelter, clothing, toiletries, and personal items – is free to our guests, and we accept no (really, not a penny) of government funding. We are funded entirely by private, voluntary donations.

We have an accredited high school for adults on our campus, and every adult who moves into the Mission must get a high school diploma (we award actual diplomas, not GED certificates). We have an in-house substance-abuse recovery program for the majority of our adult guests, who need that help, and we participate in Celebrate Recovery, the Christ-centered 12-step program. We have a full preschool, where we educate and care for the young children of our guests, and we have a full range of after-school activities every day for our school-age kids (tutoring, homework monitoring and help, physical activity, Bible studies, social time, and arts education). Our adult guests participate in Jobs Partnership, a faith-based jobs-preparedness program that has been very successful, and participation in our chapel activities is mandatory.

Send Fred a message to schedule a tour and see the impact this organization is having in Orlando.

Here is a link for our website: 

About the author:

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is a serial entrepreneur and the host of the Orlando Entrepreneurs Podcast. On this show we interview and highlight Orlando’s favorite startups, business leaders, investors, and those who support and lift up the entrepreneurial community. If you would like to be a guest on the show or would like to have a conversation about the show please contact him:


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