2018 was the first full year of implementation of BEAM’s United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Food Project grant awarded back in 2017. This federal grant fully funds our Paths to Wellness program, which focuses in three main areas: prescriptive guidance, preventative education and direct community wellness outreach.
Successes from the last year include:
More than 250 hours of direct one-on-one counseling completed for patients who were referred to BEAM from Baptist Beaches and Beaches Sulzbacher Center for the treatment of diabetes
More than 25,000 pounds of food, or 20,833 meals, were distributed each month (including produce, pantry staples, quality proteins and whole grains) from our Jax Beach and Mayport food pantries
168 pantry visits occurred in which a client at risk of diabetes or hypertension shopped for food and received advice from a nutrition specialist or registered dietitian
More than 200 cooking demonstrations were conducted
We know that food insecurity is a symptom of a larger challenge. In 2014 we created the Single Parent Program to provide wraparound services and additional case management support for our largest food pantry client demographic, single mothers.
In 2018, we began two new cohorts, and currently have 35 mothers and 57 children engaged in the program. Regular group classes are led by BEAM staff and joined by our partners such as Family Foundations, Jewish Family and Community Services, and Children’s Home Society. In addition, clients commit to meeting one-on-one with case managers for additional accountability and encouragement. While each mother develops her own individualized objectives, the program’s ultimate goal is to break the cycle of poverty and lead a life of self-sufficiency.
Here are several exciting program highlights from last year:
11 program participants went back to school to enroll in higher education courses
One mom was awarded keys to a Beaches Habitat home
Another mom earned a Bachelors in Business Administration from Edward Waters College
Two program participants received a promotion and/or raise
Current Single Parent Program education scholarship recipient earned a cumulative 3.56 GPA.
Emergency assistance is at the core of what we do at BEAM. By providing basic needs to families who are thrown an unexpected curveball in life, we are able to keep them in their homes. Last year, we helped 856 families achieve just that—relief in knowing their home would not be taken away from them.
Below is just one example of a family who was impacted by BEAM’s support:
Mr. John Doe was admitted to a local hospital for a foot wound where he was treated and also diagnosed with diabetes (at nearly 400 pounds). He was referred to BEAM’s Paths to Wellness Program and began meeting regularly with our registered dietitian. Over the course of two years, he lost more than 150 pounds!
At his new healthy weight, he was able to secure a retail job. Last year, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and during that stressful time, he was able to receive rent and utility assistance from BEAM. This ensured that he and his mother could remain in their apartment as she began treatment.
Because he was healthy and able to maintain his job, he was in a much better position to support his mom through her health challenges. We hear she is doing well and on the steady path to recovery.
We’d like to show our appreciation to longtime Client Services Manager Kathy Maloney for her 14.5 years of dedicated service to BEAM, our clients and the beaches community. She began her retirement in January 2019 and is looking forward to spending quality time with her family and grandbabies.
2018 marks quite the year for BEAM’s food assistance programs. Last year, we celebrated the 5th “birthday” of Grace Garden, our 7,200 square foot urban garden, which provides supplemental produce for our two client-choice food pantries. We harvested more than 6,500 pounds of produce from sixty-one 4’ x 12’ garden boxes and seven aeroponic towers.
In addition, the Beaches Community Food Bank, housed behind the 7north marquee thrift store in North Jax Beach continues to distribute a record number of rescued food from grocery retailers and donations from community food drives. This steady increase year over year has allowed BEAM to increase the number of Feeding Northeast Florida agency partners that receive food on a regular basis. Last year alone, the BEAM Food Bank distributed more than 789,000 pounds of food, equaling 657,590 meals to our hungry beaches neighbors (5% increase over last year). Of those, 369,4515 meals were distributed through our mobile food pantry partners including Pablo Hamlet, Pablo Towers and Mayport Elementary School and the other 288,174 meals were taken home by the clients of our two brick and mortar food pantries last year.
As you may know, the Mayport area is a USDA designated food desert, meaning that it has significant number of residents that are more than one mile (urban) or 10 miles (rural) from the nearest supermarket. It is also an area designated as “low vehicle access”, meaning that more than 100 households have no access to a vehicle and are more than 0.5 miles from the nearest supermarket. This is why we are relentless in our expansion efforts in this area of the community.
Last year we were proud to add the Jacksonville USO off Mayport Rd as a partner, which has allowed us to regularly provide food for the active and retired military families they serve. In recent times, this partnership has become even more critical as we work to provide meals to families on furlough impacted by the government shutdown.
When the food bank was first built in 2016 behind our 7north thrift store, it was created to serve as the only beaches food distribution center responsible for the collection, inspection and organization of food from our local grocery store partners. Once established, we were able to receive a steadily flow of goods for our two client-choice food pantries as well as provide food to neighboring agencies in a “business to business” approach.
With a small food bank staff of two and 44 weekly volunteers, we also added another our approach to meet the needs of our food insecure beaches community: mobile food pantry operations.
A mobile food pantry is a food distribution strategy that removes the barriers preventing access to under-served areas. It allows for the delivery of rescued food and grocery products including protein, produce and other goods to meet the needs of the public right where they are in a “business to consumer” approach.
Our current mobile food pantry sites include:
An average of 2,800 pounds of food to Mayport Market, a food distribution site in the cafeteria of Mayport Elementary School every Duval County Public School early release day. Our successful Mayport Market initiative is in partnership with Palms Presbyterian Church.
An average of 6,000 pounds a month of meat, bread and other items to St John the Baptist Catholic Church for their mobile food pantry on the third Saturday of every month. This poundage is in addition to the food we provide to them to help stock their food pantry.
An average of 1,800 pounds every other week to Pablo Hamlet, one of Jacksonville Beach’s subsidized senior living facilities. This gives us an opportunity to provide food to seniors who live independently, but who are not able to visit one of our brick and mortar pantries.
An average of 1,800 pounds every week to Pablo Towers, which has a similar demographic of Pablo Hamlet. These two senior living facility mobile food pantries are in partnership with Elderly Housing Management Corporation.
We would not be able to do this important work without the organizations behind the scenes that provide these food and grocery donations. Our admirable partners include Feeding Northeast Florida, Lucky’s Market, NS Mayport Commissary, Publix Super Markets, PVS Studios, Target, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie.
While we continue to operate our Jacksonville Beach and Mayport food pantries (including expanded weeknight and weekend hours), our mobile food pantry outreach has given us an opportunity to meet a different demographic—those who face transportation and/or time constraint hardships while providing for themselves and their families on a limited income.
Last year alone, we distributed more than 114,000 pounds of food through our mobile food pantry operations.
In late September, we held an intimate event for our food bank donors and volunteers to celebrate the purchase of a new truck! With this addition, we are now able to better serve the supply needs of our Jacksonville Beach and Mayport pantries, our mobile food pantry sites and partner agencies.
We’d like to thank Ullmann Brown Wealth Advisors and the Ponte Vedra Women’s Civic Alliance for their generous investments to make this new truck possible. These donations for food operations capital improvements have a significant impact on our ability to combat food insecurity in our beaches area.
At the event, BEAM co-founder Father William Kelly led a “blessing of the fleet” and shared how far the organization has come since 1985 when BEAM was first formed.
In addition, we recognized our stellar volunteer Glenn Schneider for working tirelessly to make sure we purchased a truck that met our specific needs, and was within our budget.
Thank you to our food bank partners and supporters for your generosity!
At the end of August we held our annual fundraiser, the BEAM of Light Beach Ball, at TPC Sawgrass welcoming more than 210 attendees to celebrate the important work we are doing in the beaches area.
Our master of ceremonies was WJXT Channel 4 news anchor Jennifer Waugh who shared about the food insecurity challenges that face our community and how BEAM’s comprehensive basic needs services assist thousands of families every year. Senator Aaron Bean led a very entertaining live auction, and we enjoyed music from the RadioLove Band.
We also heard remarks from our current Board Chair Janice Kiernan who shared that because of generous donors and partners, we’ve been able to increase our footprint in the beaches area to reach more individuals and families in times of need.
At the end of the program, we were moved to hear personal testimony from a BEAM client who lost his job in the recession, forcing him and his daughter to lose their home. Through perseverance, and a hand up from BEAM, Dan was able to secure an apartment and his daughter is now in her freshman year at the University of Tampa on a full ride scholarship.
Dan’s story is just one example of the many lives impacted by the services we provide.
All money contributed through sponsorships, donations, ticket sales and auction earnings support BEAM’s work to provide emergency assistance and a path to economic stability. Thanks to generous community support, we raised more than $107,000 through this year’s BEAM of Light Beach Ball!
We celebrated 25 years of Back to School with BEAM this year. On August 5th, we assisted more than 725 children and their families with clothing needs and school supplies in preparation for the next academic year. The book room in partnership with READUSA and the Beaches Community Fund continues to be a hit, and we were thrilled to welcome first-time Back to School volunteers Katie and Tommy Bohanon (#40), Megan and Josh Lambo (#4) from the Jacksonville Jaguars!
In September, our partners at 2-1-1 connected us with Stephen who was in need of financial assistance. Stephen is a beaches resident and has worked in the construction industry for more than 20 years, but because of a heart condition, he is no longer able to work. He is required to wear a LifeVest Defibrillator every day and at a recent checkup appointment, he found out he also has a tumor in his liver.
As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly stressful and emotional time for him. He lives by himself and has been working hard to keep up with his medical bills, but last month he needed assistance. BEAM was there to help relieve some of his financial stress by covering his rent and utility bills. In addition, he “shopped” with a volunteer in our Jacksonville Beach client-choice food pantry and she shared that he was the most gracious client she has worked with. We know that there is a slow road to recovery ahead for Stephen, but we are optimistic and continue to check in with him frequently to provide additional support.
This summer was a very busy time for us! We hosted both our 25th annual Back to School with BEAM and our BEAM of Light Beach Ball fundraiser in August. It was my first time attending both and I have to say, we have some incredible volunteers and supporters!
Last issue I shared with you we were expanding our pantry hours to include Thursday weeknights from 4- 7 pm. I’m pleased to say we have trained a group of dedicated volunteers to work this later shift, and we are now in the process of getting the word out about our extended hours to our partners and clients.
In addition, we have officially begun outreach to the local business community highlighting our “live-work” program where individuals who work in our six zip code service area can now schedule food pantry appointments. This service expansion is part of our 2016 strategic plan in an effort to help families supporting our local businesses who do not or can no longer afford to live east of the Intracoastal. We anticipate that once the word gets out, we will be able to provide food for many more hardworking families in need.
Your ongoing support is critical to the work we are doing to provide emergency assistance and a path to economic stability. Thank you for allowing us to continue to provide help and hope to those who need it most!
It’s hard to believe we are in our 25th year of Back to School with BEAM. If you talked with community activist and event founder Karen Wolfson, she would tell you that the purpose was always to provide a shopping experience for school-aged children. It was important to her that everyone was treated with dignity and respect, and she would not put out an article of clothing if it was not something she wanted her children to wear.
Back in 1994, Back to School with BEAM looked a little different than it does today. In the first year, she recalled having 30 volunteers and 250 children visit the old fellowship hall at Beach Church (formerly Beach United Methodist Church) to “shop” for clothes in preparation for the upcoming school year.
It wasn’t until a couple years later they received enough donations to include new socks and underwear at the event. A few years after that, school supplies were added into the mix.
For all of the formative years, these items were stored and sorted by volunteers, friends and family members at Karen and Don’s home in Atlantic Beach. Even though Karen chaired the event for 14 years, she still gives praise to her faith and the countless volunteers, donors, church partners and businesses who have supported the event through the years.
It’s not a surprise that her legacy lives on and Back to School with BEAM continues to be a staple for the beaches community.
Last year alone with help from more than 300 volunteers, 700 children were outfitted with grade specific school supplies, a new backpack, three new or gently used outfits, new Scholastic books, accessories and a voucher for a brand new pair of shoes. Another 300 were equipped when we delivered supplies directly to the elementary, middle and high schools within the BEAM service area.
The 25th annual Back to School with BEAM event will take place Saturday, August 4 from 8am to 12pm at Beach Church in Jacksonville Beach. For more information on the event and for volunteer sign-up, please visit: https://www.jaxbeam.org/back-to-school-with-beam/.
Since March of 2018, we have opened up our Jacksonville Beach and Mayport food pantries every other Saturday to support our hardworking clients. It’s taken some time for the word to get out, but overall, it’s been very successful and helpful for our neighbors who work multiple jobs and are unable to visit BEAM during the work week.
In addition to our new weekend hours, we are excited to announce we will begin piloting Thursday night hours. Beginning July 19, both food pantries will be open for clients from 4pm to 7pm every week.
Our goal is to better serve our community and we need your help!
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with us to support these new hours, please let us know! We are in need of volunteers for the following slots:
- 1st and 3rd Saturdays from 10am to 2pm at the Jacksonville Beach location
- 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 10am to 2pm at the Mayport location
- Thursdays from 4pm to 7pm at both the Jacksonville Beach and Mayport locations
You may contact volunteer coordinator Colleen Brennan at Colleen@jaxbeam.org or 904-241- 7437 x108 for more information.
In June, we embarked on our second year of partnership with the First Coast YMCA to
provide the community with free diabetes prevention and hypertension management workshops.
The classes are open to the public and facilitated by a Y life coach
and supervised by BEAM’s Registered Dietitian Rachel McCandless.
The class schedules are as follows:
- Diabetes Prevention Program – every Monday from 10:30am to 11:30am at the Mayport food pantry (1447 Mayport Road, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233).
- Hypertension Management Program – every Monday from 9am to 10am and 1pm to 2pm at the Mayport food pantry (1447 Mayport Road, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233).
Lunch is provided to attendees, and participants are able to “shop” one on one with BEAM’s Registered Dietitian following class. If you or someone you know is interested in joining us, please reach out to Rachel at 904-624-9566 or Rachel@jaxbeam.org.
As we participated in the Opening of the Beaches Parade, I was so excited by the many cheers from onlookers shouting, “We love BEAM”! It is easy to recognize that our roots run deep in this community.
Together we celebrate the recent retiring of Rev. Gabe Goodman of Community Presbyterian Church and mourn the loss of Rev. Jack Swann of Palms Presbyterian Church. Both were among the founders of BEAM and exemplary community stewards who have positively changed the beaches area forever.
Much has changed since these two pastors and others in the Beaches Ministerial Association first envisioned BEAM nearly 35 years ago. Our food pantry is expanding hours to better meet the needs of working families. We are exploring additional support to seniors to help them live independently and safely in their homes. In addition, we are thrilled to celebrate our 25th annual Back to School with BEAM this year. Built on this rich history, we continue to channel the generosity of our community in service to others. Your support allows us to meet the most basic needs of our most vulnerable neighbors and seek ways for all to live with dignity.
A growing economy can mask the challenges that many still face. While the needs our neighbors may look different now than when we first began, BEAM continues to serve those at risk of homelessness every single day.
Thank you for entrusting me alongside our board, staff and dedicated volunteers to make this important work possible. It is truly a privilege to provide this care to those in our community who need it most.
BEAM’s recent partnership with the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida has brought some changes to our Mayport and Jax Beach food pantries!
With the help of one of our UNF nursing students, Rebecca Cheney, and as a part of our “client choice” initiative, we have incorporated a “Healthy Choice” option throughout the pantries that helps clients easily shop for healthier options.
Statistics show that one in three food pantry client households include an individual with diabetes and 58 percent include an individual with high blood pressure. Our new “Healthy Choice” alternatives address these statistics by incorporating labeled shelves with low sodium, low sugar, whole grain or whole wheat foods into each client’s shopping experience.
The “Healthy Choice” categories chosen for our food pantries are approved by our full-time Registered Dietitian and are proven to have health benefits. Our student partner was the winner of an Osprey Community Engagement Medallion for demonstrating exemplary commitment to the community through her project! Congratulations Rebecca and thank you for making it easy for our clients to choose healthier options at our “client choice” food pantries!
BEAM would like to thank the volunteers that participated in National Volunteer Month this April!
BEAM helps make a difference in the lives of those in our community, and we would not be able to do so without the help of our faithful volunteers.
BEAM’s Food and Financial Assistance Services aim to prevent Beaches residents in emergency situations from going hungry and avoiding eviction or homelessness.
Karen is the grandmother and caretaker of her 12-year-old grandson. She had previously worked with Client Services Manager Kathy Maloney for rent assistance, but most recently came to BEAM for help at the end of last year when she welcomed another newborn grandchild into her home. Kathy was able to identify Karen’s needs and provided her with diapers and other essential baby items from the food pantry. She also reached out to mothers in the community who gathered items together to provide her with a crib, car seat, and other newborn baby supplies.
“They changed a chaotic and troublesome situation into a joyous one,” Karen says. “One of the most important things for me was Ben, my grandson that I’m raising. He could see other people helping other people, and that’s the way the world should work.”
We are thrilled to share that Tammy, one of our SPP moms from cohort three, will graduate from Edwards Waters College at the beginning of May with her Bachelors in Business Administration. Tammy was referred to BEAM by a program participant back in 2015 and has made great progress towards building a career and developing a sound financial future for herself and her three children. In partnership with Goodwill’s A-STEP program, Tammy was able to take prerequisite classes at FSCJ and enter into the CLIMB program at Edward Waters where she will obtain her Bachelors in only 18 months’ time. We are also excited to share that she already has two interviews lined up post-graduation!
Single Parent Program
Beginning in April, our case manager began working with nine women enrolled in the fifth cohort of BEAM’s Single Parent Program (SPP) as they started their journey towards achieving their Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely (SMART) goals.
Last year, the program’s services provided 36 single parents from four cohorts with workshops and tools needed to gain self-sufficiency and interrupt the cycle of poverty. Participants meet on a weekly basis for up to three years and receive personalized services and intensive workshops on various topics such as credit repair, home ownership, interview skills and more. Women who complete the program can expect measurable gains toward their set goals, which often incorporate a better understanding of finances, an increased credit score, sufficient income to move out of poverty or developing career and schooling opportunities.