What Is Shaping Clay?

Shaping Clay is a community-building network focused on making Clay County, Florida a better place to live, work, learn, and play.

During 2017 we are poised to venture into some new territory. We want to explore how our nonprofits can collaborate with a variety of other stakeholders in Clay County. Some of these other groups / topics previously identified during our meetings include: Libraries, Agriculture, Emergency Planning, Education, Legislators, Government, Speaker’s Bureau, Storytelling, Volunteer Directory, Event Directory, and Resource Directory.

We meet the last Friday of each month. Check back on the website to find out the next meeting’s topic, confirm our meeting location or scroll down to review notes from our previous meetings.

Also feel free to contact one of us with questions or suggestions relative to past or upcoming meetings.

Peace and Joy  

From your Shaping Clay Team 

Karen Wintress




March 2017 – Meeting Invite

In Shaping Clay meetings, we have discussed a number of issues related to the topic of resource directories. There are many organizations that have their own directory, each find it a challenge to maintain up-to-date contact information, and there can be a duplication of effort since multiple organizations work to both maintain their directories and get the word out about them.

We are actively looking for a better way. We wanted to find out what resources those who are at the front-line answering the phones rely on. What questions do they get? What information do they give out? Allie got the ball rolling right after our February meeting, by reaching out to Clay County to find out what information they provide to callers looking for assistance.

 Clay County Switchboard (904) 284-6376

I did a search for community resources or assistance on the Clay County website and there wasn’t much. I called the general information number and spoke with a switchboard operator. She shared that she did not know of any community resources and didn’t have any listed to share. She shared that she has been in her position for 3 years and people call all the time asking about food stamps or food assistance, housing assistance, or information about other needs. I asked her what she usually tells people who call asking for resource information and she shared that she gives them two different telephone numbers. She didn’t know what the numbers would link me to, she just shared that that those were the numbers someone had put on the switchboard with a note that said housing/food/clothing assistance. When I googled them, they turned out to be North Florida Community Action Agency and the Clay Behavioral.

I asked her who was in charge of determining the website content and she was unsure. She shared she knew that the MIS program updated and maintained the website. I asked her if it would be helpful for her to have a resource list or to have one posted on the Clay County website and she shared it would be. I would recommend that a representative from Mercy Support Services call and give the switchboard their number so that they have it to give out. I would also recommend that when we are creating our narrative that we include how the County website does not have any helpful information for residents in need.

Then Elaine and Karen picked up the challenge and made several more calls to those on the front-lines answering calls from people looking for assistance. We were surprised, and you may be too, at what we discovered.

Clay County Switchboard (904) 284-6376

Yes, here’s what I found out at a call to the mail Clay County number a month later, and not much has changed. When going to the Clay County website to find a number to call, there is lots of information, but no phone number until you go to the ‘contact us’ tab.  People call in this main switchboard number (904) 284-6376 for rental, food, and housing assistance. The numbers that they share with callers are for these organizations: Career Source (904) 213-3888, Food Bank (904) 284-5936, Food Pantry (904) 284-0814, Housing Authority, and Neighborhood Assistance Resource Center (904) 529-2233. The woman who answered the phone did not know much about the organizations she is referring people to. For example, why there are two food related numbers and she had not heard of Mercy Support Services. I told her that we were trying to get up-to-date information into the hands of those who like her are on the front line answering phones from people looking for social service support. She welcomed this and gave me her email to stay in touch.

I did not know what the Neighborhood Assistance Resource Center was so I called them. They are based in Green Cove Springs and have two staff members plus someone who comes in two days a week from another agency. They help people with many things such as food stamps, Medicaid, and vouchers for food pantry access. The woman that I spoke with welcomed receiving any updated information that we could share. When she gave me her email address, it became apparent that I was speaking with Clay Behavioral’s Green Cove Springs office.

Keystone Heights City Hall (352) 473-4807

I spoke to the Keystone Heights receptionist.  She says that she has a few numbers for local services–their senior center, etc.–but, generally, if calls come in for other things, she refers people to the main Clay County switchboard number.  She says even the senior center is run by the Council on Aging which is a County service.

 Green Cove Springs (904) 297-7500

Green Cove Springs has a very comprehensive website, including this directory which was posted Jan 2016.Green Cove Springs Business and Community Directory

The website does not provide guidance about where to call to find answers to social service questions. When you call the main number, no one answers the phone if your question cannot be handled by the automated selections. So I dug into the online staff directory, and again there was no obvious choice, so I called the Assistant to the Town Manager. Here’s what she shared.

Most of the calls they get are for housing (e.g. section 8) and these are sent to Flagler County who handles those needs for Clay County. The other most common request is for assistance in paying utility bills and they send these to the Northeast Florida Community Action Agency. They don’t have a list of service providers, rather she distributes brochures to some staff so that they can respond to requests for food pantry and mental health needs (Clay Behavioral}. She did not know about Mercy Support Services when I mentioned them. She gave me her email address so we could send her materials that may help them answer questions. She noted that while the county is based in Green Cove Springs, most of the requests for social service needs are fielded by the county government rather than the Green Cove Springs municipality.

Orange Park Main Number (904) 264-9565

I called Sarah, who was recommended as a point of contact at our last Shaping Clay meeting. She is the Town Clerk / Assistant Town Manager so she does not answer the main number. She said that they have a list of about 10 organizations that are on a handout that they give to people who walk in looking for assistance. This list is also used as reference by the person at the front desk when a call comes in. She’s going to have someone send me the list electronically. She too would welcome updated information.

It looks like we have some work to do in Clay County in terms of getting updated lists of social service organizations and agency descriptions to those who receive questions from those who need to access these services.  Also, is there a way to effectively share information centrally about upcoming events that may be of interest to community residents and businesses?

February 2017 Meeting Notes – Resource Directories Part II

Shaping Clay Feb 24, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Shaping Clay Resource DirectoryMeeting called to order by Ernie Cohen (Clay Behavioral, Kids First).  Karen Wintress  (Utility Bill Checkup) welcomed attendees, and began the roundtable self-introductions.  Ernie reviewed activity at the January meeting:  discussion of topic of centralized resource directory; reports on resources available by Bob Arnold (United Way, 211), plus many other resources documented in the January meeting minutes; and proposal by Karen for directory consolidation.

Result of the January discussion was that agencies wished to maintain their own directories for the functions of their agencies.  However, all face an ongoing issue of keeping directory entries current and complete.  Callen Bell reported on the website for the Non-profit Center of Northeast Florida, which is based on cataloging all non-profits that file a Form 990.  Continuing discussion led to the proposal for training sessions led by a panel of non-profit representatives and offered to those who deal with clients who require social services of various kinds.

Karen then asked attendees to begin offering ideas for next steps in maximizing the maintenance and distribution of our Clay County directories.

Allie Munch (Big Brothers/Big Sisters) suggested that someone get in touch with Sarah Campbell, Orange Park Town Manager, who is planning to restructure the Orange Park website with more emphasis on agencies offering service in the area.  Furthermore, the Clay County Chamber of Commerce is also going to have a greater focus on non-profits, and would be a good platform for information.

Ernie noted that there is frustration among those who need services but don’t know how to access them.  He had previously worked with the Council on Aging to place “prescription pads” with the COA contact number in medical settings.  This led to a 400% increase in calls to the COA.  However, there is still an issue with those who do not have access to this source of information.

Nellie Duval (Florida Department of Health, Clay County), said that she does not know how to keep her information updated because she does not know which directories list her agency as a contact.

Janey Fox (Mercy Support Services) said that keeping their call center directory updated is an ongoing and time-consuming activity for volunteers.

Andre Van Heerden (Clay Safety Net Alliance) said that some agencies, such as those dealing with mental health issues and the Way Free Clinic may need their own lists of specialized resources.

Bliss Hayes (Northeast Florida Community Action Agency) mentioned that they find the schools ‘Quick List’ to be a valuable contact list for their agency to use.

Sandy Coffey (Clay County Library Board of Trustees) suggested that Mercy Support Services send an email to all agencies in their directory once or twice a year, asking them to respond with updated agency information if they wished to remain in the referral database. 

Alisha Ross (Just Add Rhythm) reviewed the SunBiz procedures for how companies that wish to be included are required to annually update their entries. She asked if there was a comparable way to automate the updates for non-profits.  We wondered if the Nonprofit Center’s database could be helpful in some way.

Marie Smith (National Alliance on Mental Illness/NAMI) noted that they need to refer their clients to agencies that aren’t usually contained within the Mercy Support Services directory. Keeping up to date contact information for use by their referral center is a real challenge.

Karen mentioned that referrals for arts, education and other services need to be included in a comprehensive database, not just contacts for social service agencies that respond to crisis situations.

Amy Parker (Reinhold Foundation) noted that the Foundation’s major initiatives are to provide training in support of Clay County non-profits and annually recognize non-profit organizations at Celebrate Clay.

Mar 2015 MtgJessica Starkey (St Leo University) suggested using community service volunteers from the high school career academy tech programs to tackle an online directory as a project.  Perhaps they could develop an app which is used by residents. This project could go toward community service hours.

Elaine Smith (Clamour Theatre) explained that a website would require two efforts – page development and database management skills.  She also described the New York City centralized-phone system that people call to get information and which transfers calls directly to relevant agencies.

Stephanie Geoghagan (Clay Action Coalition) noted how they receive calls from people within Clay County and from out of the area who are moving into the area that are looking for service referrals. Also people just show up at their office. She generally refers them to the Mercy Support Services call center.

Other avenues for sharing information could be the Clay Chamber of Commerce, which is planning to hear a presentation from the Nonprofit Center on the state of non-profits in Clay County sometime in March.

Janey suggested that Shaping Clay (Karen Wintress) invite reps from the Chamber of Commerce (Doug Conkey), Economic Development Corporation (Bill Garrison), Small Business Development (Annie Grogan) and the Town of Orange Park (Sarah Campbell) to a meeting to discuss how the county and municipal agencies handle resident requests for service information. Our non-profit agencies would like to explore how we can provide benefit to these community stakeholders. Prior to scheduling the meeting, Karen, Jessica and Elaine will meet to create a narrative for presentation to these agencies.  This narrative will be reviewed by Shaping Clay members. The goal will be to have a preliminary meeting with agency reps to see if they are willing to work with Shaping Clay on this issue.

Allie Munch offered to contact Clay County government re the placement of non-profit contact information on their website and in their call center.  Here’s what Allie reported back to the group.

I did a search for community resources or assistance on the Clay County website and there wasn’t much related return. I called the general information number and spoke with a switchboard operator. She shared that she did not know of any community resources and didn’t have any listed to share. She shared that she has been in her position for 3 years and people call all the time asking about food stamps or food assistance, housing assistance, or information about other needs. I asked her what she usually tells people who call asking for resource information and she shared that she gives them two different telephone numbers. (I googled the numbers she gave me and one belongs to North Florida Community Action Agency and the other belongs to Clay Behavioral). She didn’t know what the numbers would link me to, she just shared that that those were the numbers someone had put on the switchboard with a note that said housing/food/clothing assistance. I asked her who was in charge of determining the website content and she was unsure. She shared she knew that the MIS program updated and maintained the website. I asked her if it would be helpful for her to have a resource list or to have one posted on the Clay County website and she shared it would be.

I would recommend that a representative from Mercy Support Services call and give the switchboard their number so that they have it to give out. I would also recommend that when we are creating our narrative that we include how the County website does not have any helpful information for residents in need.

Action items, as reviewed by Ernie Cohen:  Find ways to communicate to the community that resources are out there; how to limit duplication of services; how to keep resource lists updated.

Announcements:  Clay Behavioral and Kids First Reverse Raffle is being held on April 7 at the Hilltop. Contact Ernie Cohen (904) 710-5148 because tickets are going fast.

There is a 4-part series of Healthy Cooking Classes being held at the Barco-Newton Family YMCA. Contact Andrea Richardson (904) 502-8545 for more info.

Next Shaping Clay meeting:  Friday, March 31, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg.

Challenge: Consider reaching out to someone at the meeting and have a one-on-one meeting with them to find out more about each other’s respective organizations and how you may be able to collaborate.  Contact information for meeting attendees is below.


January 2017 Meeting Notes – Resource Directory

Bob Arnold, representing United Way 211 kicked off our round table discussion on resource directories. The 211 directory is a 9 county, information referral (not case management) system, which can be found on website –http://nefl211.org. It is an accredited resource that is available 24/7 and is marketed on United Way materials. People are trained for 40 – 60 hours before getting on the phone. There is specialized training to support some calls such as the suicide hotline. They are starting a process to do follow up phone calls to make certain that people’s situations have been resolved. During Hurricane Mathew, they worked closely with the EOC and with the First Coast Relief Fund.

img_0007-2Michele Goytia of Episcopal Children’s Services noted that her organization’s resource directory is online and is updated via word of mouth. Her organization works closely with Mercy Support Services. Here’s a link http://www.ecs4kids.org/Pdf%20Files/Com%20Res%20Guides%202010/Clay%20County%2004_2010.pdf

Andrea Hepburn shared that Orange Park Medical Center publishes a pamphlet which includes resources for Duval and Clay County. The book was created by the marketing department to be used by the Case Managers to assist patients when they are looking for services in the community after being discharged from the hospital.  The resource guides are also distributed at community events to new families moving to Clay County.

Shaping Clay Resource DirectoryJaney Fox and Frances Elia shared how Mercy Support Services uses its resource directory. When people call in for assistance, volunteers on the help line take the time to probe the full needs of the caller so they can provide a full range of support. The caller is given detailed input on when and how to approach an agency that may be able to provide support. For example, what day of the week or time of the day is best to call. Churches provide support based on zip codes, so it is pointless to just call around randomly. Mercy Support Services advocates a case management approach and therefore does not distribute its resource directory.

img_0006-2Callan Bell explained the Link program of the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida. It is an online compilation of nonprofit 990 forms, and hence is a great reference source where you can sort in multiple ways to find out more about nonprofits in Clay County.

Amy Parker told us about the Reinhold Foundation directory. It is updated online by the respective organizations. It includes a description of the organization, people to contact, and keywords that can be used to search. See if your organization’s info is up to date: http://reinhold.net/directoryofservices.php

The group discussed that maybe it is okay to have duplication of directories because of the different populations being served. However, resource Guides need to be updated. Perhaps volunteers could help.

img_0009-2It was suggested that there could be links through the county website, and in particular the library site. Our library representative noted that this is probably not going to happen because of liability issues.

We need to tap community partners so that social workers and helping departments could use these resources before individuals find themselves in an emergency situation.

img_0012-2Regarding the Orange Park Medical Center Guide, it was suggested to add the following information:  The Non-Profit and Reinhold link. Also, have hard copies available at libraries, government buildings, Clay Chamber, senior centers and/or hospitals.

In conclusion, the group wants to meet again in February (24th) to dig deeper into innovative approaches to deal with our multiple resource directories. Community Partners should be invited to the next meeting and everyone should bring a list of those who could assist with getting the word out. Connecting with Leadership Clay and have some Training Workshops were specific suggestions to consider.img_0011-2

January 2017 Meeting Invite – Resource Directory

Greetings. You’re invited to our January 27 Shaping Clay meeting. We still meet at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg, starting at 8:30 a.m. At this meeting, we’re going to have a round-table discussion on resource directories used in Clay County. At previous meetings, we have talked about having a centralized resource directory. There are some hurdles to overcome to achieve this, however; let’s start by exploring what resource directories are already out there. For existing directories, how can we help each other get the word out and keep our directories up-to-date? If you are considering starting a new resource directory, please come to find out what may already exist that may be useful for you.
For each person attending that has a resource directory, please share with us things like:
How is your directory used by your organization? What information does it contain? What is the approximate size or how many resources does it contain? How is it kept up-to-date? Is it used internally or shared with the community? If it is shared, is it available in printed form and/or online? Would you like to expand its distribution? If so, who should have access to your directory that doesn’t already? How can we help you keep it up-to-date and get the word out about your directory? Who is the contact in your organization for someone to find out more about it?

Here are some organizations that may have a resource directory or be a repository for one.

Amy Parker                  Reinhold Foundation
Andre Van Heerden   Clay Safety Net Alliance
Andrea Hepburn         Orange Park Medical Center
Bob Arnold                   United Way 211
Frances Elia                 Mercy Support Services
K Loader                       Clay County School District
Leah Donelan               Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida
Sandy Coffey                Clay County Library


Please come and participate in this round table discussion. If there are others who should be present, please invite them. For those who can’t attend, send information via email ahead of time to Karen Wintress kkwintress@yahoo.com, and we’ll share it with the group.  

Meeting Location  
St. Vincent’s Health Care
1670 St. Vincent’s Way
Middleburg, FL 32068


December 2016 Meeting Notes

At our December 2, 2016 meeting, we had 5 new people join us, which added a lot to the discussion. Following is a recap of some of our discussion.

Jonathan Hall, the band director for the Oakleaf High School, has a great program that he is spearheading with his students. They are launching a program called Box5coffee.com. For every bag of Box5coffee sold, the Oakleaf High School Band will receive funding to purchase musical and educational resources for students at the school. They also care about children who do not have the basic necessities to experience a high-quality education. They will be donating resources to children in the greater Jacksonville, FL area as well as children in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Kosovo, Syria and Northern Ireland. I encourage everyone to check out the website at www.box5coffee.com. You can find out more about the program and discover ways that you may be able to contribute to their effort. You can reach Johnathan at jonathan.hall@myonecay.net to find out more.

Allie Munch shared with us some of the programs that Big Brothers / Big Sisters are doing. They want to expand their programs and outreach to people who may want to find out more about being a Big Brother or Big Sister. She noted that they’d like to have more options for those under 18. Please get in touch with Allie at amunch@bbbsnefl.org if you have ideas to share with her.

Ernie Cohen of Kids First of Florida says that they are responsible for some 500 kids. For those not familiar with KFF, it has a number of programs that it manages for Clay County’s children. When children are removed from their families due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment they need a temporary home, or foster care. When returning home is not possible, then KFF must terminate parental rights and find a forever family through adoption for that child. Additionally, they provide post-adoption support, preventative programs, and independent living services for children aging out of the foster care system into adulthood. Ernie feels that in Clay County we really need a combined resource directory to better coordinate resources and prevent duplication of services.  If you would like to connect with KFF contact Ernie at ecohen@theigd.org.

Sonya Maness-Turner joined us as a newcomer to the area and is very interested in finding a position with a nonprofit in Clay or Duval County. Among her many experiences, she has been a community builder for the United Way in Jacksonville, Executive Director of the YWCO in Laurel, MS, and Finance Assistant for the Carson Tahoe Health Systems in Carson City, NV. Please contact Sonya if you can connect her to a nonprofit opportunity in our area at sonyamanessturner@gmail.com.

Sandy Coffey is a regular Shaping Clay meeting attendee and is on the Board of Trustees for the Clay County Library System and a Friend of the Orange Park Library. We benefit from Sandy’s insight about how information is shared with the public through our library network. If you’d like to find out more about our library facilities and other resources that could benefit your organization, please contact Sandy at scoffey22@gmail.com

Andrea Richardson runs an incredible health-focused program called Creation Health. Danneley Duval joined us from the Department of Health, Clay County. They both have health programs that can be of great benefit to the community, but need to have better ways to get the word out. Both may have a program that could be of value to the clients you serve. You may contact Andrea at andrea.richardson16@aol.com. Danneley can be reached at danneley.duval@flhealth.gov

Rachel Walker is with the Adult and Continuing Education program for the Clay County Schools. Among her responsibilities, she works with individuals who are getting their GED. She is very interested in finding out what skills companies are looking for so that the students she works with can get a job when they finish their studies. Rachel can be reached at rachel.walker@myoneclay.net

While not at our meeting, Leah Donelan from the Nonprofit Center has shared that they have a number of programs that can be shared at upcoming Shaping Clay meetings. Please let me know which program(s) you would like to attend this year.

1.    State of the Nonprofit Sector (including fundraising trends) for Clay County after February.

2.    Developing and Managing Your Volunteers.

3.    Building an Effective Board of Directors

4.    Budget Basics

5.     Development 101

6.     Advocacy 101

7.     Running an Effective Meeting

We decided that there was a lot of interest among the meeting attendees to talk about our much needed resource directory. Therefore, at or January 27th we are going to assemble all the resources that we can to explore what steps we can take to move toward a resource directory for Clay County. Suggested contacts included: Bob Arnold of United Way, Eldersource, Library, Reinhold Foundation, Orange Park Medical Center, Mercy Support Services, Public Safety, and Emergency Operations Center. Please join us and invite anyone who would like to have input to the content or process of creating a resource directory.

In addition to topics suggested by the Nonprofit Center, the following are notes from our February 2016 Shaping Clay meeting, which includes suggested topics for meetings. What topics are important for us to discuss during 2017?

February 2016 Meeting Notes: During 2016 Shaping Clay is poised to venture into some new territory. We want to explore how the nonprofits can collaborate with a variety of other stakeholders in Clay County. Some of these other groups / topics previously identified during our 2015 meetings include: Libraries, Agriculture, Emergency Planning, Education, Legislators, Government, Speaker’s Bureau, Storytelling, Volunteer Directory, and Resource Directory.

Suggestions For 2016 And Beyond

  1. Invite nonprofits which provide a vital role in the community’s well-being, but are not presently attending Shaping Clay meetings. Those mentioned included schools, arts, history, and youth athletic groups. It was also recommended that Shaping Clay as a network of nonprofits we encourage action and collaboration among the nonprofits on selected projects by adopting a Plan Do Act Check model.
  2. Have key note speakers, such as Bill Garrison from the Economic Development Corporation share his vision and future plans for Clay County.  If we know how and where Clay County is going, then we can identify ways that the nonprofits and businesses can work together.
  3. Adopt and support one of the CHIP (Clay Health Improvement Plan) Lifestyles / Behaviors workgroup projects once finalized.
  4. Find a champion to update an existing or create a new Resource Directory. The Resource Directory is to be accessible to anyone in Clay County (especially new residents and businesses), to include as many resources as possible, not just social services, and be kept up-to-date. Ideally it should include eligibility requirements and documentation needed to obtain a social service.
  5. Develop a Communication Plan and spearhead a promotional campaign which communicates the full impact of nonprofits in Clay County – number of employees, nature and value of services provided, etc. Create a story about the impact that a disaster would have if our nonprofits couldn’t respond for a week or longer. The currency which we bring to the community is so much more than $, it includes quality of life, compassion, health, and other positive attributes.
  6. Sponsor a panel discussion on a topic that would bring together and be of interest to both the Mercy Network and Shaping Clay participants.
  7. Explore how Shaping Clay can provide support to organizations such as Saint Leo and the Clay County libraries. How can they help support the nonprofits? Organizations such as these have great ideas, untapped resources such as students, professors, volunteers, and media. It’s likely that by sharing our respective missions and goals with these and other stakeholders we will build some connections that are beneficial to all. Saint Leo would like to engage students more and be a sponsor of public forums. Presently Saint Leo is sponsoring a ‘Compassion Fatigue Seminar’ on April 7th from 8:30 to 3:00 at the Orange Park Library. Please share the attached flyer with those who could benefit from attending.
  8. Identify, make connections, and help get the word out about innovative programs such as Reverend Bill Randall’s (Saint Simon Missionary Baptist Church) transportation project. It was noted that he’s tackling transportation needs similar to how Clay Habitat is working with housing needs.

Bottomline: As a community, it is very important, that we work together to accomplish our shared vision and mission for the betterment of Clay County!

December 2016 Meeting Invite

Friday, December 2nd

8:30am -10:00am

Come one, come all Shaping Clay members to join us for the last Shaping Clay meeting for 2016. We’ll meet at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. There will be no heavy discussion, just networking and the opportunity for those who wish to share highlights about your organization’s accomplishments during the year.

If there is any confusion, for those who missed the May meeting, we decided to more clearly define the mission and goals of Clay’s two nonprofit networks – The Clay SafetyNet Alliance and Shaping Clay. We looked to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a model.

The Clay SafetyNet Alliance (previously known as the Mercy Network) is to expand the platform of committed partners among faith-based, nonprofit, for-profit and local government organizations. This network meets regularly (the third Thursday of the month) in order to share resources, avoid duplication of effort, and find solutions to issues facing our community. It focuses on strengthening a safety net for those in need of social services.

Shaping Clay is a network of nonprofits which provide programs and resources to enrich, educate and/or entertain the lives of those within our county. We invite all stakeholders to join us (usually the last Friday of the month) as we reach out to leverage our efforts and find ways to help us all ‘get the word out’, a common challenge faced by many organizations. Among our meeting topics we focused on mental health, veteran services, and senior services, with each of these resulting in councils being formed to dig deeper. It will be interesting to see what lies ahead for 2017.
We’d love to have all Shaping Clay members join us on December 2nd at 8:30 am at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg. Please invite anyone who you feel would like to attend. This will be a great opportunity to find what other organizations are doing and see if there are ways to partner.
Bring lots of business cards to exchange.
Shaping Clay Meeting Information 
– Meeting Location, St. Vincent’s Middleburg

– Arrive by 8:15 to purchase your own refreshments at the St. Vincent’s cafe, then walk down the hall to the meeting.

– A $2 donation at the door helps to cover website and marketing costs.

Connect our organizations via Facebook. The more active we are using social media, the more we will get our story out and get supported. Consider not just posting an upcoming event, but share photos and information about what happened during and after the event.  

Sept 2016 Meeting Notes – Disaster Preparation w/ EOC

Note: Oct Meeting is the 20th at the Salvation Army, Middleburg

Find us at 2795 County Rd 220, Middleburg. It will be a combined meeting with the Clay SafetyNet Alliance to recap lessons learned after Matthew and steps we can take to prepare for or recover from other events. Start networking at 9:30, the meeting is from 10:00 to 11:30.  

Sept 30 Meeting Notes: We had 4 guests join us to share their insights and answer our questions about emergency preparedness. Our guests were John Ward and Matthew Smith from the Emergency Operations Center, Jeff Eadis from the Sheriff’s Department, and Leigh Wilsey from the Florida Department of Health / Clay.

img_7639adjJohn started with the worst problem he faces is complacency. Which honestly was supported by the attendance at the meeting.

People don’t think it’s really going to happen. Or they think there is only threat of an emergency during the hurricane (rain with a name) season. Other topics discussed included:

When we close schools in the county it has a huge ripple effect, and not just to the schools.

How do we get people to stay off the roads during an event to avoid falling trees and downed power lines?

In high winds there is an impact on our Clay Transit vehicles.

ESF15 connects volunteers with those requesting assistance after an event. What is appropriate to donate?

Some are not aware that registry for those with special needs includes anyone who needs assistance in evacuating. For example, those that are wheel-chair bound and not just those needing power for medical equipment or medications. For example, this could be important in a wildfire event.

Individuals and businesses should sign up for Alert Clay County. Here’s the link http://www.claycountygov.com/departments/emergency-management/alert-clay-county

St. Johns County has a tracking system for those who wander – autistic and Alzheimer individuals. It was suggested that we look into a similar system.

img_7634adjGet the word out about emergency preparedness in packets for individuals in government subsidized housing.

One of our EOC’s most active emergency volunteer groups is for pets.

The Department of Health communicates about topics such as mosquito control before it becomes a problem.

All companies should insist that each employee have a plan for their family. How do family members get in touch with each other? Phone cell service can go down.

Does your child have a ‘safety word’ in case you need to send someone to the house to give them a message?

After an emergency it’s important to replenish our county blood bank and food panty supplies.

Every home should have a battery-operated weather radio.

The ‘Touch A Truck’ Event was a huge success. John plans to work with the Orange Park Mall (Sears) to expand the amount of space for trucks. Organizations with emergency preparation or health messages should participate.

Educational seminars don’t always have to be with adults. An example is when First Responders spend time with young children. Messages from children and young adults are taken home to their families.

The Shaping Clay October Meeting will be October 20 at the Salvation Army (2795 County Rd 220, Middleburg). It will be a combined meeting with the Clay SafetyNet Alliance to recap lessons learned after Matthew and steps we can take to prepare for or recover from other events. Start networking at 9:30, the meeting is from 10:00 to 11:30.  


Sept 2016 Meeting Invite – Disaster Preparation Part 2

Come join us at our Shaping Clay meeting on September 30 so that we can continue our discussion started last month on disaster planning. While some may find this discussion a ‘downer’, 40% of businesses / organizations that are affected by a disaster never reopen. Now that’s a real ‘downer’.

Have you completed your Business Disaster Plan? If you need a place to start, go to www.flgetaplan.com and select Business. After entering contact information for your business you will be asked to:

  • Provide important business contacts including utilities, suppliers, employees, and clients
  • Provide information for alternate locations for your business in the event you need to relocate
  • Create a list of important records, documents, and software your business needs to operate

When you print out your plan it will include the sections you entered plus checklists for:

  • Disaster supply kit and checklist
  • Property protection checklist
  • Business recovery checklist

Here are a few examples of things you may not have already considered:

  • Do you have all the information suggested above accessible in one place whether it is in a binder or in a cloud so that you could recover from a disaster?
  • How would you communicate with your employees before and after a disaster?
  • If you are in leased space, do you know how to shut off water and gas in the event of an emergency?
  • Have you reviewed your insurance policies recently with your agent to make sure that you have adequate coverage? What will you need to provide the insurer to document a loss? Do you have photographs of your business which would serve as the ‘before’ for your insurance company?
  • What are your plans for recovery of your operations if your building is destroyed?

The Disaster Handbook published by the University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is another great resource for disaster preparedness. Follow this link http://disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/  and you’ll find a vast array of information to read and print out, web resources, and other products such as videos. Click on the words Master Guide to get started. As you read some of the tips and they refer to households, just replace with the word business.

Someone found a list of agencies to contact in the event of a disaster created by the University of Florida IFAS, http://stjohns.ifas.ufl.edu/hurricane_disaster_contact.shtml which is available through the St. Johns County website. The state of Florida has a disaster preparation website which also has a lot of helpful information at http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp Should links to sites like these be available right from the Clay County Emergency Management webpage?

If you don’t have a disaster plan this is a great opportunity to learn from those who do have a plan and are glad that they do. And who better to learn from than John Ward, Deputy Director of Clay County Emergency Operations Center. He will be with us (unless he is heading up an emergency response) and joined by people from the Sheriff’s Office and Health Department to share valuable tips and answer our questions. Andre Van Heerden will be with us to share how the ESF 15 Volunteer Response Team at the Emergency Operation Center works.  Everyone is invited to join in this session, so see you September 30, at 8:30 at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg.

P.S. Did you know that CodeRed has been replaced by AlertClayCounty? Have you signed up for the new alert system?

Aug 2016 Meeting Notes – Disaster Preparation

We had a great discussion at our August 26 meeting about disaster preparation. John Ward was going to be with us to share valuable information about the Clay County Emergency Operations Center and how we should prepare for emergencies. John called me the night before the meeting saying that he was unable to join us. While Shaping Clay was meeting Friday morning, the Emergency Operations Center was leading a team of volunteers out looking for a missing gentleman in the Jennings State Forest.

Days later we were hit by Hurricane Hermine which resulted in activation of our Emergency Operations Center. As the storm approached teams were briefed regularly about progress of the hurricane via conference calls. The center was mobilized and teams were called to be onsite overnight to prepare for our emergency response. Based on John’s week, we found out that our county needs to be ready to respond to a variety of emergencies, not just hurricanes. This view was definitely reinforced at our Shaping Clay meeting discussion.

Tiffany from the PACE Center For Girls let us know that after her organization developed their emergency response plan, they convened a meeting at their site to review the Plan. Meeting attendees included John Ward (Emergency Operations Center), Bruce Harvin (Coordinator of Operations Safety and Security for the Clay County Schools), the Fire Marshall, and someone from the Sheriff’s office. Feedback from the group gave PACE some specific actions that they could implement and add to their plan.

Even with all the work PACE did on their Plan, they encountered a situation that was very unnerving. Last year during the Green Cove Springs active shooting incident, they were not informed at the beginning of the incident. They almost put girls on a bus that was going to drop them off in Green Cove Springs in the area that was on lockdown. We discussed the possibility that other organizations such as charter and independent schools may also not be in the communication network.

This lead to comments by Allie from Big Brothers / Big Sisters. She asked how do we get the word out about an impending disaster to people who don’t have access to TV or the Internet; and she knows that this is not a hypothetical situation. She recommended that we make sure that our communication network includes text messages to people without TV and Internet. Another observation was that sometimes the leaders of an organization have received a communication, but may not have effectively and efficiently communicated the message to people within their organization such as employees and clients.

Patricia from the Florida Department of Health / Clay County reinforced what Allie shared with us. Outside the Department of Health building in Green Cove Springs during the active shooter lockdown, people were walking around. They had not heard what was going on. How do we let people know what’s going on? Jose, also from the Department of Health raised the issue of what happens when a physical building is affected? Who gets it and out of the building? He was surprised that during the lockdown some people were sent out of the Department of Health building. Also employees who were coming in from lunch or a meeting weren’t allowed in. What are they supposed to do?

Ron from the Florida Youth Challenge Academy which is based at Camp Blanding gave us an overview of the program. At-risk youth are lead, trained, and mentored through a highly disciplined and motivational environment. The students volunteer to participate in the program. They spend the first 5 1/2 months at Camp Blanding taking classes. The balance of the program is 12 months, where they return home and work with a mentor.  We wondered if this program could be tied more closely into emergency preparation.

Mo from United Healthcare attended to find out how other organizations are dealing with emergency preparation and consider if there are any roles that his organization could play that they don’t already.

Vicky who has retired from the military is starting a business to teach CPR skills to individuals and organizations. She also teaches swimming and is active in the Striders group. There are probably a number of ways that Vicki can connect with groups to help them be prepared for an emergency.

Patty from Quigley House noted that while they have an Emergency Plan in place they too were not notified early on about the active shooter in Green Cove Springs. It seems that there are groups still in the ‘gray zone’ that are not in a direct communication network. She also brought up another emergency that many of us don’t think about. The Quigley House Shelter was hit by lightning which caused an electric outage and took out some of their equipment.

Doug from Clay Literacy raised the topic of personal safety. He has tutors who volunteer and are out in the community. He stresses to them the importance of meeting their students in a public place, not lending them money, and not letting them into your personal car. There were other topics that Doug thought should be covered to prepare for an emergency, such as how to deal with someone who is hostile.

Kyle wears two hats. He is with Community Hospice and is a member of the Orange Park Fire Rescue organization. His major concern is how do we get the word out – both in how to prepare for a disaster and how we should respond during and after a disaster.

Amy from the Reinhold Foundation is concerned about sustainability of organizations, especially the smaller nonprofits in the face of an emergency. What mechanisms are there to share information, to get the word out? How do we raise awareness that being prepared for an emergency is more than getting ready for a hurricane?

Karen from Shaping Clay noted that there may be a role for students (K – college) in preparing and distributing messages about emergency preparation to the community. For example, one grade at our elementary schools has an annual poster contest about the importance of spaying and neutering. Maybe another grade could create emergency preparation posters if they are not already going this. Multidisciplinary projects could involve students in our Career Academies using their language art, performing and visual arts, and business skills.

Some ideas that were floated during the meeting included:

Could we disseminate information about emergency preparation at Homeowners Association meetings?

Can we distribute information about how those of us with pets should prepare for an emergency? We could distribute appropriate information to vets, animal shelters, and pet stores. The Orange Park High School is the Clay shelter that accepts pets. People need to know what to bring with them and their pet. What pets are not allowed? What proof of immunizations need to presented? What other things need to be brought?

Can organizations such as the Department of Health and the Sheriff’s Office hold workshops for residents about emergency preparation?

There is still the open question of how do we communicate with those in our community who are most vulnerable. What is in the Section 8 package of materials? Could emergency preparation tips be added if not already there?

How can we get businesses more involved in the process? What role do our libraries play? We need to reach people where and how they hang out. Is communication being coordinated between our fantastic network of health providers – hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacies, etc.?

If you were with us at the meeting what would you have contributed?

Please join us at our next Shaping Clay meeting where we are going to take this discussion on emergency preparation to the next level. We need more organizations to participate in this discussion, so please plan to join us on September 30, 8:30 – 10:30 at Saint Vincent’s in Middleburg.

August 2016 – Are you prepared for an emergency?


Come join us August 26 at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Our focus is ‘Are you prepared for an emergency?’ John Ward from Clay County’s Emergency Operations Center will lead us in a discussion about emergency preparation. Are you personally prepared for an emergency such as a flood, fire, or hurricane? Can your organization withstand the impact when a disaster affects our community? If you or your organization are not totally prepared, then how can you assist your clients?

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Have you and your clients signed up for emergency notifications?
  • Where are the designated evacuation zones?
  • Where is the closest hurricane shelter? What provisions can be made for pets?
  • Does your organization have a disaster plan? If yes, please bring a copy to share. If not, what should a disaster plan include?
  • Are there opportunities for your organization to collaborate and share resources with another group to better respond in an emergency?

Our goals for the meeting is for everyone who already has a disaster readiness plan to share some of the key elements. For those that don’t have a plan to leave committed to creating one for your organization in the near term. We could also define what actions we can take to help our clients be prepared.

You may want to check out this website for information about Clay County Emergency Management before the meeting. Http://claycountygov.com/departments/emergency-management

Please help us get the word out about this meeting. We can only benefit from hearing from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and how they will respond in an emergency.  Feel free to invite those who you feel can contribute or benefit from this discussion. Of course if we are in the middle of an actual emergency, we will have to reschedule this meeting since John Ward will be running the Clay County Emergency Operations Center.