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 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  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, 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 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://

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.

June 2016 – Going Forward

Shaping Clay May 27, 2016 Meeting

Our May meeting was scheduled at the beginning of a holiday weekend, so we decided rather than meet at St. Vincent’s, we’d send out 3 activities (a virtual meeting). The challenge is for everyone who attends Shaping Clay meetings to do these activities before our June 24th meeting. These should not take long, but be of benefit to your organization and others in the community. Here they are…

  • Go to the Reinhold Foundation website (, find your directory listing and update it if necessary. Make sure that you review and update these items.

a). Name, email, phone number for primary contact person.

b). Short description (one or two sentences) of what your organization does, your mission.

c). Categories or keywords that people would use in searching for your organization.

d). Website address.

e). Address – both physical and mailing, if different.

  • Locate the list of 2016 Celebrate Clay award winners on the Reinhold Foundation website. Identify one of the award-winning organizations that you would benefit from knowing more about. Call them to congratulate them and schedule a one-on-one meeting. Find out more about what they do and if there are opportunities to collaborate. See if you can identify ways that your organization can be a 2017 Celebrate Clay award winner. Tips for a one-on-one meeting can be found at
  • Check out the University of Florida IFAS Extension website: It is a treasure trove of publications and is largely unknown as a resource. Information could be used for curriculum, handouts for your clients, background for your website or Facebook page, etc. Topics include: agriculture, community development, environment, families and consumers, 4-H youth development, and lawn and garden. Everyone should be able to identify at least 2 resources that would be of benefit to your organization and share them with someone.

We’d love to hear your results at our next meeting.  We’ll further explore  how Maslow’s  Hierarchy fits into Clay County’s nonprofits.


Shaping Clay June 24, 2016 Meeting

Come join us at our June 24th meeting at St. Vincent’s from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Our focus will be Shaping Clay – Moving Forward. Shaping Clay has been evolving and based on a prior meeting we agreed to stay connected to, but not duplicate the work of the Clay SafetyNet Alliance (formerly called the Mercy Network). The Clay SafetyNet Alliance’s focus is on providing social service support for those with chronic or one-time needs in our community.

Shaping Clay’s goal is to connect and enhance the efforts of the nonprofits that provide enrichment support for the community. We are also focused on creating linkages between all nonprofits and other stakeholders such as libraries, schools, government agencies, legislators, for profit businesses, and the faith-based community.

At our June 24th meeting, we want to reflect on what’s been accomplished and where we should focus our efforts going forward. Then how do we prioritize what we want to accomplish before the end of the year and beyond.  Topics that have been mentioned at prior meetings that may be of interest include:

  • Create a profile of the impact that nonprofits have in Clay County and use it to meet with and seek support from our legislators.
  • Make widely available a directory of volunteer opportunities for those who want to volunteer. There are a couple directories already in place that we should review and potentially use, rather than reinvent the wheel.
  • Develop a speaker’s bureau that would provide visibility and education opportunities for our nonprofits to connect with the community.
  • Identify a way to solve the continuing challenge of ‘how do we get the word out?’ Where could a resource directory be created and maintained?
  • Get an update of how the councils which focus on select groups are doing and how can Shaping Clay help them advance – mental health, seniors, and veterans?

We need your input on June 24 to determine the focus for our remaining 2016 meetings. Your ‘hot button’ topic may not be on the above list, and we’d like to add it. The success of Shaping Clay is based on the collaborative ideas and efforts from all our nonprofits. We’d like everyone who attends to leave with some concrete suggestions about how we can share resources – volunteers, donations, office space, equipment, etc.  Also if we form teams to work on a couple of the prioritized efforts, each of us could select a team to join.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on June 24 at Saint Vincent’s at 8:30 a.m.

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



April 2016 – Agriculture in Clay County

Come join us for our April 29 meeting from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg. We scheduled this right after the Agricultural Fair to learn of any things that we could do to build upon on this great community event. We want to highlight organizations, resources, and best practices in getting food from the farm to the table, ways to eliminate food deserts and support our local growers, explore school and community gardens, and provide continuing support to our food banks.

We will have a roundtable discussion about the role and impact of agriculture in Clay County. We are reaching out to all stakeholders, some may regularly work together, others may never have actually sat down together. We want to explore what each organization does in this arena, any challenges that we face, and how through knowing about and supporting each other we can leverage our impact. Examples of groups that we’d like to see represented include: farmers, master gardeners, community / school gardens, 4-H, food (pantries, rescue, deserts), food curriculum (e.g. high school academies), the Clay Agricultural Fair, Amazing Grace Crop Maze, UF/IFAS Extension, the faith-based community, any others who’d like to join us, and of course regular Shaping Clay attendees.

Clay County will continue to grow as the Expressway is finished and new people and businesses move in. Are there things we should consider to support our farms and other agriculturally-related businesses? How do we reduce the amount of people who are hungry? Is there existing curriculum about nutrition and food options that could be shared more broadly so that we all can make healthier choices? What opportunities are there for young people (K-college) to learn more about our incredible agricultural resources? What role do the churches and other nonprofits have in this arena? For those who can’t attend, send information via email ahead of time to Karen Wintress, and we’ll share it with the group.
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Mar 2016 – Libraries and Nonprofits Working Together

We went into our meeting with the following intent – to explore how the libraries and nonprofits in Clay County can support each other’s missions, goals, and projects. What services or facilities can the libraries offer to our organizations or clients? Are there any new programs that the libraries would like to sponsor or co-sponsor with any of the nonprofits? How can the nonprofits help support our libraries? Does the library see any role in assisting with county-wide projects such as a Resource Directory or Speakers Bureau?

And following are the notes from a very lively discussion between our Clay Library professionals representing the Fleming Island, Green Cove Springs, and Orange Park branches, Friends of the Library, and the Library Board of Trustees, and Shaping Clay nonprofits.

It became apparent almost immediately that a common refrain echoed throughout our entire discussion – how to get the word out. While it was expressed in different ways, the challenge we all face is having people know what we do, how they can access us, and for some, even that we exist.

Our libraries shared these comments. They are expected to do more with less as some of their funding has been reduced by 60% over the last 5 years. Not only do they need to add books and other information resources, but also need to expand computer labs and Wi-Fi service, and are faced with some of the facilities that are aging and need updates.

In terms of providing resources for the community, among the library’s many initiatives, three major ones are 1) to get teens into the library, 2) to work with the schools and families to engage students in summer reading programs to prevent the ‘summer slide’ or drop off of grades, 3) and to support a love of life-long learning throughout the community. The libraries hold many events throughout each month, but not everyone who could benefit from these programs hears about them.

The libraries have meeting rooms which are used, but often are underutilized. On April 7, Saint Leo University is presenting a five-hour Compassion Fatigue Training Seminar held at the Orange Park Library. Saint Leo expressed an interest in further exploring the use of the library’s meeting rooms, since their space on the St. Johns River State College campus is tight

Clay County Literacy Coalition wants to expand throughout all of Clay County and will explore working even more closely with the libraries. Presently 80 volunteers are working with 100 adult students who are learning English or getting their GED. However, most efforts have been in the Orange Park area, and they are now prepared to reach out throughout all of Clay County.

The Shepherd Center expressed frustration that people still don’t know who they are or what they do. This nonprofit has been in Orange Park for 22 years. It strives to improve the quality of life for adults over 55 with educational programming focused on health and wellness.

Molina Healthcare too offers many services that are not well known. As part of their commitment to serving the community they are compiling a resource guide of services that are provided which will be distributed throughout the state. Contact if you want to find out more and be represented in their Resource Guide.

The Florida Department of Health / Clay County’s major emphasis is on driving improvements for overall population health in Clay County. Of course the health of each individual adds up to our community’s overall health. This organization too is continually exploring ways to get the word out about healthy choices, behaviors, and lifestyles.

Community Hospice does a lot of outreach in the community, but many people still don’t understand hospice care and the level of support they provide to the entire family, including children’s programs. They are yet another example of getting the word out. Mercy Support Services is fairly well known in the community and the call center connects requests for assistance to service providers throughout Clay County.

We then brainstormed a variety of ideas about how to help us all get the word out throughout Clay County.

  1. It was noted several times that the Reinhold Foundation has an excellent directory of nonprofits, but organizations need to regularly update their information.
  2. Explore with Clay Electric and Clay Utility Authority whether messages can be included with their bills or in the newsletters they send out to residents and businesses.
  3. Make it a goal to participate in the next Clay County Agricultural Fair by having a table or booth. One way to accomplish this is to join the Clay County Chamber and participate with their table.
  4. Hold community nonprofit and/or volunteer fairs. These could be held in conjunction with the community’s Farmers’ Markets. They would have to be held in several locations in order to reach everyone – Orange Park, Keystone Heights, Green Cove Springs, Fleming Island, and Middleburg.
  5. Coordinate a speaker’s bureau, an idea which has been raised several times at Shaping Clay meetings. We believe that we could start small and approach this as a joint-venture between the libraries, Shaping Clay, and seek involvement of the Clay Chamber, as well as other stakeholders. The library would consider hosting lunch and learn programs in their meeting rooms as a start. It was clearly stated that these would be informational programs and not sales pitches. It was further discussed how these could evolve into more in-depth panel discussions.
  6. There are great events sponsored by various organizations, but there is no one place to find out about them. If you are not on a specific email list, then it’s unlikely you’ll hear about them. Here are a few examples of events and their sponsors within a couple week period.
  • Clay Florida 5 Year Plan Presentation – Clay Economic Development Corporation
  • Clay County Water Summit – Clay County Chamber
  • Non-Profit Appreciation Event – Clay County Chamber
  • Clay Safety-Net Alliance Meeting – Formerly Mercy Network
  • Clay County CHIP Release Meeting – Florida Department of Health / Clay County
  • Rotary 501 Run, Expo, and Car Show – Orange Park Rotary
  • Compassion Fatigue Training Seminar – Saint Leo University
  • Business and Educator Networking Social – Clay County Chamber

We will explore if there is one place that all of the events from various organizations can be posted. And better yet, if summary slides or notes are released after an event, to add them to the event directory. Challenges will include how to navigate through a large collection of events if you are only interested in specific topics. The libraries are updating their website and agreed to explore if they could serve as the central ‘online place’ to post these events. We also discussed how to define ways that we can post each other’s events when appropriate.

There were 6 great ideas floated at our meeting. To all those who attended, and to those who weren’t able to join us, we need volunteers to step up and join us if we are to move any or all of these forward. Please contact Doug Greenberg at or Karen Wintress at to let us know what initiative you’d like to contribute to. Also, if any key points were missed in these notes, please let us know.

While we didn’t discuss this at our meeting, here’s a great website that we should be aware of: It includes hundreds of activities for families and kids in Clay and Bradford counties. Katy Hall would love to hear from anyone who has activities to add to her site at, and it costs nothing to add them. I’ll make sure that she is checking out the library website for activities.

Please plan to join us for our next meeting on April 29, 8:30 – 10:30 back at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg. We are going to celebrate our Clay Agricultural Fair by finding out more about agriculture, food (recovery, pantries, deserts), school or other curriculum about nutrition, and ways that the nonprofits, agriculture, and other stakeholders can work together to support this very important sector of Clay County.