Lessons Learned – September Meeting


Hi everyone,

Last Friday, we experienced a FIRST for Shaping Clay: we identified a common project on which to collaborate!

Before I say what it is, here’s some background. First, we reviewed county data and found that:

– Clay is the 7th most healthy county out of Florida’s 67 counties; St. Johns is #1; and Baker is #62.

– our rates of diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity exceed those of St. Johns

– our access to medical care, recreational facilities, and healthy foods lags behind St. Johns, as well as behind the national average.

We agreed that we each know someone who is currently, or has been, affected by these problems and that each of us could help toward making it better. For example, Clay Writers could help tell the story; the military museum could help us get the word out to veterans and other groups; etc…

Then we agreed to focus on transportation as an issue to enhance, and to pool our efforts toward the following action items:

  •  identify the current transportation deserts
  •  map the current “formal” transportation services
  •  identify “informal” transportation services (i.e., church buses, vans, volunteers, etc)
  •  identify potential mobile food and health care resources
  •  arrive at some action steps to pilot with The Way Clinic

The Way Clinic graciously offered to be the pilot site and their Community Health Education Coordinator (and Americorps Volunteer), Gardenia Duran, has graciously offered to coordinate. Using input from the meeting, Gardenia will draft a proposal, identify a potential timeline, and convene the first meeting, which will take place outside of Shaping Clay. Gardenia plans to visit each organization that was present at Friday’s meeting to better understand and integrate their needs and abilities. Definitely more to come on this. It will be exciting to track their progress, which I’ll do and will report back.

Ashley Smith-Juarez, Clinton Health Matters Initiative
Christy Fitzgerald, Organization Consultant
Karen Wintress, Utility Bill Checkup
Kim Govan, Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida
Lindsay Stevens, Guardian ad Litem
Douglas Greenberg, Clay County Literacy Coalition
Maureen Jung, Clay County Writers
Cindy Pontrelli, Military Museum of North Florida
Andre Van Heerden, Mercy Network
Kathy Berger, Penney Retirement Community
Jeannie Galina, The Way Clinic
Gardenia Duran, The Way Clinic
Norma Scott, The Way Clinic
Beth Eifert, Shaping Clay
Amy Parker, Reinhold Foundation


We need your help!

At the end of the meeting, we also discussed the future of Shaping Clay. My family and I will be moving to St. Augustine in the Spring, which offers the perfect opportunity for some new energy.

If you are interested in helping to create the future for Shaping Clay, please call me at 904-703-9206. We would like the new Steering Committee to be in place by December so they can guide 2015.

Peace and joy –

Beth Eifert
Coordinator, Shaping Clay Helping Professionals’ Group

Lessons Learned – August Meeting


Ashley Smith-Juarez, Regional Director for the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI), presented “The Northeast Florida Blueprint for Action”. The data revealed results of her months-long community-based study that Northeast Florida is home to both the county with the best health outcomes in the state – St. Johns County – and one of the most unhealthy, Baker County, which ranked 62 of 67 counties.

This disparity is reflected in employment, educational attainment, access to healthy foods, and other important assets for community health. The Blue Print defines these assets in depth and offers Bold Actions to enhance them. By the end of Ashley’s talk, our group enthusiastically agreed to use the Blueprint to identify targeted ways to partner and leverage our strengths to enhance our community!

As the Regional Director, Ashley acts as a broker and convener to build partnerships and collaborations in an effort to improve overall health outcomes and well-being in the five county region. The CHMI engages the public, business and social sectors to lower rates of preventable disease, narrow health disparity gaps and lower the cost of healthcare by improving wellness in all generations.

CHMI uses the social determinants of health model to drive all of its work. This model suggests that an individual’s overall health is influenced by a constellation of factors, including healthcare quality and access, lifestyle behaviors, socioeconomic status, and access to a healthy environment. CHMI relies on the collaboration of those who have capacity to impact health outcomes. More information about CHMI can be found at http://www.clintonfoundation.org/our-work/clinton-health-matters-initiative.

Please take a moment to review the attached study and come prepared for a Sept meeting filled with energy, empowerment and collaboration!

Peace and joy  –

Lessons Learned – June Meeting

During our June 27th networking meeting, we hosted members representing a variety of groups, including foster children; homeless; veterans; health care and jobs; the elderly; writers; business people; and those wishing to learn to read. Through a few “speed dating” networking rounds led by Christy Fitzgerald, we learned new facts about each other’s worlds and ways we could serve and support each other.

Peace and Joy –

Lessons Learned – May Meeting


“Nonprofit Resources Provided by the Reinhold Foundation” presented by Amy Parker, Executive Director for the Reinhold Foundation.

The Reinhold Foundation offers extremely valuable annual training and community service award recognition. She will elaborate on these programs and discuss how the Foundation leverages them to support Clay County nonprofits.

Shaping Clay Presentation May 2014:  Click here for a complete copy of the Reinhold Foundation’s presentation for Shaping Clay presented by Amy Parker on Friday, May 30, 2014.


Lessons Learned – April Meeting


Leah Donelan of the Northeast Florida Nonprofit Center introduced us to “Getting Connected with The Link.”  She taught us how to use the The Nonprofit Link (TNL), which is an amazing online tool that gives us a way to seamlessly find each other, share resources, communicate about projects,and increase capacity and visibility.

Funded by The Community Foundation and the Jessie Ball Dupont Fund, TNL is an online resource that shares data and helps nonprofits link together to collaborate. It has great promise, but for best results, we should each spend some time making sure our organization’s information is up-to-date, and playing around with the site’s amazing capabilities. Click here to access it: http://www.thenonprofitlink.org/communityplatform/nefl .

Lessons Learned – March Meeting


Jayne Evans, Communications Coordinator for the Nonprofit Center, joined us in a discussion of “How to increase public awareness of our nonprofit community?”  While most of our organizations have a website or FaceBook page, the people who need us most – whether client, donor, or volunteer – often have trouble finding us.  Why is that and how can we change it? How can we keep the nonprofit community at the top of everyone’s minds? Whether you’re an Executive Director, a volunteer, or a resident of Clay County, awareness of, and access to, services is a vital issue.

Lessons Learned:

  • Members of Shaping Clay believe the public would benefit from one site that could guide local residents to whatever help they need (as client, donor, and/or volunteer).
  • Jayne stated that effective communication requires a multi-pronged approach
    • Individual nonprofits should build a vision and strategic plan, to include marketing and communication
    • All nonprofits should leverage collaboration to communicate scale and impact:
      • The Northeast Florida Nonprofit Center (NPC) conducted a Public Attitudes Survey revealing:
          • People trust nonprofits to take action on issues more than any other organization, including government, law enforcement, and 8 others! (84%)
          • They believe local nonprofits are uniquely qualified to address local problems because of their ties to the community (63%)
          • Nonprofit would get more support from the public if they could show how effective they are (85%)
          • People would be more likely to support a nonprofit organization that could show the return on their investment (64%)
          • When asked to name their favorite nonprofit, most people could only name national organizations, like St. Judes, which are wonderful, but not local
        • To help increase awareness of the overall nonprofit sector, and to help us speak with one voice, the NPC created the “Local-Focus, Lasting-Impact campaign.”
        • See attached notes for details
  • Next steps for Shaping Clay:
    • Catrine suggested we find one or several volunteers/interns who could write stories about local nonprofit heroes in action (and their impact) for placement in the local news, on nonprofit websites, and other venues
      • Beth volunteered to draft a job description and ask whether Maureen Jung and her writers’ group would be interested
      • Doug Greenberg of the Clay County Literacy Coalition volunteered to edit the draft
      • Karen Wintress, with Utility Bill Checkup volunteered to help
      • We are seeking a couple more people who would like to part of this effort and possibly form a “Communications Committee”
        • This is vital to our collective growth and impact
        • Please let me know if you’re interested.
        • I promise we will make the time commitment manageable for everyone

For a detailed copy of the March Meeting notes click here.

Lessons Learned – February Meeting


Andre Van Heerden, VP of Networking and Partnerships at Mercy Support Services (MSS), spoke about Nonprofit Community-Building and Collaboration.  MSS was the 2013 winner of the $10,000 Paul E. Reinhold Community Service Award, due in large part to its broad partnership-based impact.

MSS is a network of agencies, churches nonprofits, and for-profits that help people in crisis in Clay County.  It forms partnerships with the members within the network to initiate services that are missing within their local County, such as group homes for homeless families and a centralized clearing house where people in crisis are screened, qualified and case managed until they are self-sufficient.

As nonprofit organizations face ever-tightening resources and an increasingly complex world today, there has been a growing demand for nonprofits to partner with each other to address the needs and issues in our communities. Moreover, many foundations that offer necessary grant money either prefer or indeed require organizations to partner in order to receive their grants. Andre will speak about his personal and professional experiences with MSS, and will use the book, Community: the structure of belonging by Peter Block, as a guide.

Lessons Learned:

  • Since 2004, the MN has grown from a meeting of faith-based and service organizations, to one that boasts 2 group homes; district offices; an education center; a community mentor program; and community action teams.
  • Last year, the Mercy Network won the prestigious $10,000 Paul E Reinhold Community Service Award due, in large part, to its broad partnership-based impact.
  • Andre credits his organization’s success to having a clear vision, maintaining a strategic plan, and relentlessly measuring for impact.
  • His advice to other nonprofits:
    • develop your vision, strategic plan, and measures of success and let them guide everything you do
    • get the word out by speaking to, and networking with, businesses and the government sector
    • seek the counsel of successful nonprofit leaders

Other Announcements:

Take Stock in Children Clay County – This program is in need of 12 mentors for students around Clay County. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a mentor please contact us at 904-272-4304. Mentors truly change lives and with your help we could positively change the life of a student right here in our community!

Mercy Network Meeting, March 20, 2014, Meeting Emphasis – Transportation Services in Clay County – What’s available & what’s still needed. 10am Salvation Army Conference Room 2795 Country Road 220 Middleburg, FL 32068

Peace and joy –


Lessons Learned – January Meeting

For our first 2014 meeting, we welcomed Certified Public Accountant, Brian McInnis from the McInnis Company, who spoke about “General Financial Issues Facing Nonprofits.”

Brian has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Florida, and fifteen years of experience in both public accounting and industry, including over four years at large global accounting firms.

The attached PDF of Brian’s Power Point contains information on donor trends, current challenges, and suggested strategies faced by today’s nonprofits, along with some helpful links.  Thank you for sharing your time and wisdom with us, Brian!

Peace and joy,


Special opportunity to become a member of the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida!

Shaping Clay and the Nonprofit Center have partnered to offer 1 year of membership to the first 25 nonprofit members of Shaping Clay who sign up.  These organizations’ budgets must fall between $0 – $3mil and they cannot currently be a member of the Nonprofit Center.

If your organization qualifies, please complete and email the application (found on the last 4 pages of the membership packet) to Beth Eifert before January 29.  This may entail printing and scanning.  Member benefits include classes on leadership development, professional growth, and issues that affect the nonprofit sector.  Their workshops and trainings are of the highest caliber and often feature nationally recognized presenters.

Past activities include:

*Board Conversations

*Succession  Planning

*Finance Basics for Nonprofits

*Board Governance and Fundraising

*Strategic Planning

You can also take advantage of networking opportunities, nonprofit advocacy to state government, research and job postings on the website, executive coaching, and the incredible online community-building tool, The Link!  Please see the attached flyer for more details.
Download package here 

Beth Eifert
Coordinator, Shaping Clay Helping Professionals’ Group

Merry Christmas! See you in January!

A big THANK YOU to Catrine Fredrickson, Christy Fitzgerald, Amy Parker, Wendy Ungaro, and Susan & Brian McInnis for coming together to create such a fun and welcoming space during yesterday’s holiday meeting for our hard-working nonprofit partners to rejuvenate, celebrate, build community, and ultimately, better serve their clients. You created a spectacular end to 2013, and set the stage for an exciting 2014 line-up. Thank you for the gift of your leadership, mentorship, and friendship!

We meet on the last Friday of the month. Our next meeting is on Friday, January 31st, 8:30-10:00 a.m. at the Orange Park Library (Meeting Room A) on Plainfield Road, just off Kingsley, behind the Dairy Queen. Please RSVP hereOur January speaker will be Brian McInnis, CPA and Co-Founder of The McInnis Company, CPAs, P.L., who will speak about accounting and tax issues for nonprofits.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Peace and Joy,
Beth Eifert
Coordinator, Shaping Clay Helping Professionals’ Group