August 2015 – Youth Services

Aug 2015 MtgAt our August 28th Shaping Clay meeting we had an engaging discussion about youth services in Clay County. Out of the 196,399 people living in the county according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2013 statistics, about 24.6% (48,300) are young people (under 18).

As you read these meeting notes, you are encouraged to select a couple organizations that you’d like to learn more about and schedule a one-on-one meeting. If you are not familiar with these networking meetings, check out the ‘Nonprofit Tools’ tab at the top of this website for tips to get you started.

August 2015 MtgLinda Grabowski, David Grabowski, and Cary Sanders shared the story of their organization, Miriam’s Basket. Linda started this nonprofit in 2011, in conjunction with Child Protective Services, to help provide clothing to children who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or personal tragedy. To date, they have provided over 900 children in Clay County with clothing in brightly-colored bags with the child’s name on the bag. These bags include clothes, pajamas, shoes, socks, underwear, and coats, and an age-appropriate gift such as a bear.

Callan Bell of Take Stock In Children explained how her organization provides support to at risk students. Middle school and high school students are paired with mentors, and given the opportunity to receive college scholarships by maintaining a 2.5 or better GPA, and achieving certain attendance and behavior measures. Mentoring sessions are weekly, usually for about an hour, and at a school near the mentor’s home or workplace, during school hours. These sessions can change both the lives of the mentor and mentee.

Lea Rhoden of Tobacco Free Partnership of Clay County spoke about the outreach the organization is doing to encourage people to quit using tobacco products, or better yet not start. Presently there are 4 SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) programs in the schools, with a plan to grow to 10 and eventually 17. There are audits conducted by students and others to make sure that tobacco products are not sold to or easily accessible to youth.

August 2015 MtgCarolyn Kroll told us about the American Cancer Society’s outreach in Clay County. They conduct Relay For Life fundraisers to support the Hope Center at the Mayo Clinic. During the spring of 2015 there were Relay For Life events in Orange Park, Middleburg, Oakleaf, and Fleming Island. Individuals and teams run to raise money at these events.

Korey O’Neal of Career Source, is an organization committed to connecting people with jobs. His focus is on working with Youth Services to support those from 16 to 24 years old who have not been in school for 3 months or more. They work to get apprenticeships that are free to the employer, but they are not looking for low-level positions at McDonalds or Walmart. They want jobs that provide the apprentices with real-world experiences.

August 2015 MtgSandy Coffey represents the Orange Park Library System and as such wants to bring back information to the library staff and patrons about youth programs in Clay County. The Green Cove Springs branch has a Teen Advisory Group for tweens to teens, grades 7 to 12. Young people are encouraged to participate in order to make new friends, help your community, and get volunteer hours.

Joseph Barnes actively serves in the Navy and is attending Saint Leo University working toward a bachelor degree in Human Services. He completes his 20 years of military service in the spring of 2016. Before then he is looking for opportunities to volunteer and use his service skills and education so that he can eventually land a position with an organization where he can work with children, adults, or even families. He stepped up to join the Shaping Clay team and is helping us restructure our Facebook page. Let’s help this soon to be veteran find ways to make a difference in Clay County.

Sylvia Barton, has a website Sylvia Vision where she offers products that can be used for fundraising. Sylvia is always actively looking for ways to support a variety of community organizations. As a member of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce she strives to make connections between for profit and nonprofit organizations.

Debra Troupe shared how Clay Behavioral Health Center provides mental health and substance abuse case management services to children and teens. This gives them access to medical, social, educational, and other services. Case managers use a holistic approach and each child receives an individualized, comprehensive plan. Kids First Florida is the community-based agency providing child welfare and foster care services to Clay County. KFF stays with the kids 16 weeks after they have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect.

August 2015 MtgThe PACE Center for Girls of Clay which works with the Dept of Juvenile Justice Services was represented by Chantell Miles. She told us how PACE helps girls that have lived through a variety of issues such as abuse, trauma, and neglect, heal and grow. But PACE depends on help from the community. For example, on the PACE Clay website, there is a tab called ‘Current Needs’.

Beth Vaughn of Reaching Milestones is a privately-owned organization which provides comprehensive behavioral treatment for special needs children. They provide research-based behavioral interventions, with autism treatment one of their areas of expertise. The treatment approach used is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles, a method recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General as an effective treatment for Autism.

August 2015 MtgSamantha Bane, of the ILRC (Indepdent Living Resource Center) shared information about their youth services program, among many others. This program serves children from birth to age 22, and provides resources to their family. Services include individualized assistance and advocacy in education, childhood development and parenting services. The program helps the family navigate through the complexities of the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Dana DeWeese represented the Clay County Chamber of Commerce, and told us of their mission to provide education, events, and networking opportunities that will connect and contribute to the success of Clay County companies, both for profit and nonprofit. She highlighted the value of membership and shared Clay Chamber Directories.

Karen Wintress of Utility Bill Checkup spoke about the service that she provides to nonprofit organizations. We audit a nonprofit’s bills for their use of electricity, gas, water, sewer, waste disposal, Internet, phone, and cable. Of the utility bills that we audit, more than 70% have overcharges, money that we recover for our clients, and that they can use to support their mission. We only get paid a percentage of what we recover, and only after our client receives the refund or credit from their utility provider.

Jackie Kujala of Guardian ad Litem explained that this organization uses trained volunteers who provide information about and advocate in the interests of abused and neglected children in the court system. Guardians gather facts about a child’s case, review reports, visit a child’s home, school or placement and provide the court with an unbiased recommendation on what is required to serve the best interests of the child. There are 300 children in Clay County that need an advocate.

Kiersten Patton from the Clay County Health Department’s Teen Health Center gave us an overview of their programs. The Center provides a safe and fun place for teens to participate in health services, activities, educational sessions, and networking with peers.  It is offered in Green Cove Springs (Ed Stansel Clinic) on Tuesdays from 2 – 5 and in Orange Park (Bear Run Clinic) on Wednesdays from 2 – 5. In the educational sessions, topics raised by the teens will be addressed including sex and HIV. Transportation is provided from the high schools (Clay High and Ridgeview) to the program and at the end of the program to the teen’s home.

August 2015 MtgJose Morales of the Clay County Health Department reinforced the value of the Teen Center. He also mentioned that we should be on the lookout for the soon-to-be-released Clay Health Assessment Report. It will give us some health data that we can use in developing health-related youth prevention and intervention programs.

Mike Ford, of Clay Today gave us very valuable advice on how to get the word out about our organizations. He emphasized that information in and of itself, is not transformative. In order to build community we need to strike a chord, to tell a compelling story that people will relate to. He encouraged us to capture and share stories of those we have helped. As nonprofits we don’t offer products like chairs. Rather we provide services that change lives. Clay Today is not there to promote us, but can help by sharing stories of those we’ve helped.

During the end of our meeting, we brainstormed about other ways to tell our stories, and get the word out about our organizations. Once suggestion was to have a speaker’s bureau, people that could provide educational and engaging information about our community’s needs and services. One avenue could be through lunch and learn programs. It was also recognized that our libraries can be invaluable sources of making connections with the community.


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July 2015 – Seniors

At our July 31st meeting we discussed the many services for seniors.

Mar 2015 MtgOut of the almost 200,000 people living in the county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau about 13.7% (27,400) are seniors, those 65 and above. We explored topics such as:  What do our seniors need in terms of support? Are these needs being met or are there gaps or overlaps in services? How can we better connect our seniors into the community – such as new ways for them to volunteer or become more involved? How can we improve communication to our seniors?

Before reading the minutes, please note this announcement from Shereen Snare of the Council On Aging. The Clay County Senior Services Coalition held its first meeting at the Council on Aging on August 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Each organization was asked to come to the table with 5 of your top issues / gaps that you see in Senior Services in Clay County. If you’d like to connect with this initiative, please call Shereen at (904) 531-5021 to find out the outcome from the Senior Services Coalition first meeting.

Here’s a flavor our discussion on seniors. Please be aware as you read these notes that the overarching comment by almost every organization is that they are challenged trying to get the word out about what they do. Communication is a big challenge that we all identified.

Brad Burbaugh is the director of UF/IFAS (the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) and is based in Green Cove Springs. One of their many programs is food safety. They have 900 trained volunteers including Master Gardeners and Master Food Volunteers. Samantha Bane from the ILRC (Independent Living Resource Center), is an organization which supports those with disabilities to live independently. They provide hearing assisted devices for telephones and lend out other medical devices, including wheel chairs and walkers.

On the health side, we had Jose Morales and Cynthia Jackman, the director of nursing from the Clay County Department of Health and Karen Petyon from the Clay Behavioral Health Center. Each of these organizations focus on providing both prevention and treatment resources and education. Jose told us about the Community Health Assessment which is going on right now. Karen mentioned that Medicare won’t pay for group mental health sessions, a need that is hard to meet.

Angela Turk from United Healthcare shared what her organization does with seniors. Bianca Speight from Guardian Ad Litem participated in the discussion because many of her program’s volunteers are seniors. Lea Rhoden from Tobacco Free Partnership of Clay County spoke about challenges that tobacco use can raise and said she’d be back to add her voice to our discussion on youth.

Carol Weisenburg wore two hats – BASCA (Building Abilities for Special Children and Adults) and the Shepherds Center. BASCA focuses on taking care of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and has residential homes and adult day training. The Shepherd Center includes many programs for seniors with a focus on aging in place by design. Carol also brought up the issue of the need for more affordable housing for seniors.

Margo Hay representing Community Hospice, spoke to the need for end of life care, both for the patient and the family. A frustration is when doctors won’t prescribe this care. Richard Hackelton from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office let us know about 2 programs that may be of interest to those supporting seniors. One is called Elder Watch, where a senior that lives alone can request someone from the community to check in on them daily to make sure they are okay. There is also the VIPS (Volunteers in Police Services) program. Currently there are 288 unpaid adult volunteers who assist the police in many projects.

Kathy Berger and Rebecca Padgett joined us from the Penney Retirement Community. Rebecca highlighted their skilled nursing, memory, and respite care they provide and that PRC is more affordable and available than many think. Kathy mentioned the several hundred volunteers at PRC and how they love to have people from the community come join them with their PET (Personal Energy Transportation) project. Marina Mathews joined us from the Moosehaven Community, which is a continuing care retirement community for seniors 65 and older. She shared how Moosehaven provides 2 admission options, one the traditional retirement program for members of the Moose and Brandon Place. It was striking to hear how both of these communities provide a broad array of services and living accommodations for seniors, but there are many misconceptions outside of their communities that they must routinely counter.

Sheree Ellingson, the owner of Senior Helpers in Orange Park, is a for profit company that provides nonmedical support to seniors, filling short-term needs to longer term care. Janey Fox from Mercy Support Services reminded us of the incredible network of support services that are available to seniors that can be accessed through the Resource Center. Doug Greenberg, was our meeting facilitator, and is President of the Clay County Literacy Coalition.

Herb Stiegellman is the curator of the Military Museum of Northeast Florida, based in Green Cove Springs. It contains many memorabilia that are important to our seniors, and is a great place to visit. Sandy Coffey, from the Orange Park Library was with us to learn about the many services that she can share with her coworkers and library patrons. Our Clay County libraries give access to the AARP tax program, which is of great interest to seniors.

Jerry Carter from Career Source Northeast Florida spoke about a program Experience Works, helping people over 55 get jobs; veterans are given priority. These are usually low-income situations where individuals are placed in nonprofits for 18 to 20 hours per week and are taught job skills. Norrie Berlio from DCF / APS Adult Protective Services spoke her organization’s responsibility under Florida law to investigate reports of adults that are abused, neglected, or exploited. She spoke about a home care stipend for disabled adults, but funding is a challenge for her organization, especially to support the investigations.

The Council on Aging of Clay County (a nonprofit, not a governmental agency) was represented by its Executive Director Drew DeCandis and Marketing person Shereen Snare. Drew spoke about the Adult Day Care services that are offered at the Green Cove Springs Center and soon to be opened a second center in collaboration with Moosehaven on their campus. The Council on Aging offers many services for seniors but faces several challenges that Drew and his organization are working to address. They desperately want to complete a fully-functioning kitchen at the Green Cove Springs Center and build some affordable housing for seniors. They are looking for sponsors and community support for their upcoming fundraiser Old Karts & Arts on October 10 (see flyer below) to build that kitchen.

Peace and Joy

    From your Shaping Clay Team

Karen Wintress        Samantha Bane            Doug Greenberg         Jackie Kujala 609-933-2666           904-881-6697                904-272-5988             904-449-4957