Back to School with BEAM 2019 Recap

On Saturday, August 3rd BEAM held their 26th annual Back to School with BEAM event at Beach Church in Jacksonville Beach. Over 650 children were outfitted with grade specific school supplies, a new backpack, three new or gently used outfits, new Scholastic books, accessories and a voucher towards a brand new pair of shoes.

Megan and her family joined us for the Back to School with BEAM event this year. Megan works in the fast-food industry and is fiscally responsible for a family of four. Her husband passed away last year in a motorcycle accident, leaving her with young children to raise on her own. 

We spoke to Megan at the Back to School event and she was extremely thankful: 

"We look forward to coming to Back to School with BEAM every year. Since my husband passed, it can be hard to save money for the supplies my children need to start school and make ends meet. My kids love choosing their clothes and backpacks -- but I think picking out new books is their absolute favorite part. The volunteers are very helpful as well. My daughter had trouble finding the right size since she is small for her age, and they searched to find exactly what she needed. I can't thank BEAM enough for the support. Seeing my children smiling and excited to start school is a priceless gift. If it wasn't for Back to School with BEAM, I wouldn't be able to afford new clothes and supplies for my children. It is truly a blessing to our family. Thank you so much." 

BEAM of Light Beach Ball 2019 Recap

On Saturday, August 24th we held our annual fundraiser, the BEAM of Light Beach Ball presented by Ullmann Brown Wealth Advisors, at the beautiful TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse with more than 260 attendees.

Thanks to generous community support, we raised over $125,000 through this year’s BEAM of Light Beach Ball!

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. Jackie Smith, Director of Special Operations for Congressman John Rutherford, led a very entertaining live auction, and we enjoyed fantastic music from RadioLove Band.

At the end of the program, we were moved to hear personal testimony from a BEAM client who had struggled financially after the loss of her husband late last year. BEAM helped Daisy get back on track, and provided her the support she needed to keep a stable home environment and food on the table.

Daisy’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.

Connecting our Neighbor to Hope and Help

BEAM prides itself on identifying the needs of our clients and connecting them with proper resources. A few months ago a client was referred to BEAM by our partners at the Sulzbacher Beaches Clinic. John Doe has advanced kidney disease, coupled with mobility issues and no method of transportation. While the care this client requires was outside of the scope of what BEAM’s Paths to Wellness Program offers, Rachel was able to connect a registered dietitian volunteer (who has this specific area of expertise) with John and she agreed to visit him twice a month. Volunteer Terry, alongside a Sulzbacher community health worker, now bring John groceries from the BEAM food pantry, assist with routine medical check-ups and provide intensive behavioral counseling. Although John has a long road to recovery, he is grateful for his individualized support as he works hard to overcome this disease.

BEAM Food Bank Update (Summer 2019)

We hit record numbers at the BEAM Food Bank earlier this year! In May, we distributed more than 61,867 meals to our food pantries and local agencies, which is the most we have ever given out in one month’s time! Shout out to our partners at Alimacani Elementary School, Beaches Community Kitchen, Hubbard House, the Jacksonville USO, McKenzie’s Academic Resource Center, Mayport Elementary School, Mission House, Pablo Hamlet, Pablo Towers and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church for making this possible. We couldn’t tackle the complex challenges of food insecurity without you!

Paths to Nutrition Program Update (Summer 2019)

Did you know BEAM has a full-time registered dietitian on staff ?
Fully funded by the USDA, BEAM’s Paths to Wellness Program is designed to help low income residents make important dietary changes that will lead to healthier lives. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Rachel McCandless, MSH,RDN works with clients one-on-one and also educates the public about nutrition through various community outreach initiatives.

Here’s what she has been up to lately:

• In partnership with the City of Atlantic Beach and Dig Local Network, Rachel is teaching 40 children once a week about healthy foods through a kid’s summer camp running through mid-August at the Gail Baker Community Center in Atlantic Beach.

• Rachel also regularly participates in the Atlantic Beach Mid-Week Farmers’ Market at Bull Park on Wednesdays from 3 - 6 pm. Dig Local Network provides 2-for-1 SNAP benefits (also known as food stamps) for people who spend the vouchers on produce. Rachel has recently begun a SNAP food basket demo highlighting local vendor products and ways to maximize the 2-for-1 incentive benefit, recipe cards included.

• BEAM’s registered dietitian nutritionist attends the Beaches Green Market in Neptune Beach on Saturdays from 2 – 5 pm. Choosing items from vendors such as Alvarez Farms, Rachel creates a dish on-the-spot and offers a complimentary food tasting to attendees.

• In addition, Rachel recently launched a Neighbors for Nutrition program twice a month in which her successful medical clients “shop” with new clients to serve as nutrition ambassadors. This allows them to apply what they have learned from their one-on-one sessions and provide intentional support for other clients.

This year alone, the Paths to Wellness Program will educate more than 2,000 people about nutrition through local community outreach events.

Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

A message from BEAM's registered dietitian during Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month:

Contrary to marketing and media reports, there is no “miracle” food or supplement that will prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as we get older.
The one thing that HAS been shown to help prevent cognitive decline is a varied diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables along with fish and seafood while limiting excess sugars and solid fats like those found in red meat.

The antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids from these foods are shown to have a protective effect on the brain, while excess sugars and saturated fats contribute to the blood vessel damage that leads to brain issues as we age.

And don’t forget the exercise. The latest science on physical activity and the brain points to the fact that exercise not only keeps the brain from declining but actually helps to grow new connections in the brain, improving our cognitive function.

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers…/research_progress/prevention


If you are the caregiver for someone who is experiencing Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline, you know that eating may become a challenge due to poor appetite, medications, altered senses of taste and smell, difficulty using utensils, mood changes and difficulty chewing or swallowing, among other issues.
People living with dementia do not need a special diet, but well-balanced meals that contribute to overall health are extremely important. For tips on how to choose foods and how to increase acceptance and appetite for these foods, see: https://www.alz.org/help-…/caregiving/daily-care/food-eating


https://my.clevelandclinic.org/…/9597-eating-and-nutritiona…

Meet our new board members!

We are excited to introduce the following new members to the BEAM Board of Directors:

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Tom Anderson, CSX

“I joined the board at BEAM because it provides a unique opportunity to support the work of dedicated professionals and volunteers working to directly help individuals in need in my local community.”

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Jeff Haynie, Law Office

of Jeff Haynie

“BEAM is a community treasure, and it’s my goal to work with the other board members to grow and protect this treasure so that it will continue providing hope in our community well into the future.”

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Pastor Nathan Loewen, First Christian Church of the Beaches

“I joined the board because of BEAM’s amazing history and the dynamic impact it makes in the beaches community.”

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Kathie McGuinness, Keller Williams - Atlantic Partners

“Having worked with several non-profits over the years, I have a strong interest in community-based outreach and support resources. Hopefully, with a network of friends, colleagues and clients, I will be able to contribute to the continuing financial health of BEAM.”

Messages from our Clients

As you may know, BEAM works diligently to take a holistic approach to address the complex needs of our low-income neighbors. Providing our clients the resources they need to overcome a crisis involving food, utilities, rent, and housing would not be possible without your help.

Last month we received personal thank you letters from clients who benefited from BEAM’s services:

Thank you so much for your help, you are all so kind. You put the love back in my heart, and made me realize there is still good in the world! I really appreciate everything you all do. I will always be grateful!
— Rebecca
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the food you gave us! Without BEAM so many people would go hungry.
— Diane and Allen

Volunteer Spotlight (Spring 2019)

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Chet’s Creek Church Lautzenheiser Life Group

This Chet’s Creek Church Lautzenheiser Life Group has been volunteering once a month since Grace Garden was created six years ago. Pictured are all children who have “grown” up with the garden, from seed to kindergartener!

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Volunteer Appreciation Month

April was Volunteer Appreciation Month and we <3 our 250+ active volunteers! In addition, BEAM was recently voted Best Volunteer Effort by Folio Weekly, and we were thrilled to celebrate together at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the end of April.

Single Parent Program Update (Spring 2019)

The Single Parent Program (SPP) Mid-Year Award Ceremony took place at the end of April at The Carver Center in Jacksonville Beach.  They women being celebrated began the program in February and have successfully completed initial core courses related to financial education, career mapping, parenting and spiritual wellness. They are now in phase two of the program.

Ms. Barbara Beaman, BEAM Case Manager, ran the ceremony and presented certificates to cohort participants, who were accompanied by their families. Tears and laughter were shared as each woman stood to receive her award. Nearly 40% of the current program participants are actively in school full or part-time.

SPP mom Wendy, stood and said a few words to the group. She is currently enrolled in classes at Generation Jacksonville to receive a work certification:

“When I found out I was accepted into the Single Parent Program I was overjoyed. Shortly after I started SPP, I began having serious medical complications. It was extremely difficult for me to get to class and take care of my children because of the pain, but I pushed myself to keep going. During the times when I was at my lowest, I thought of what BEAM’s logo represents, a lighthouse. I knew, just like sailors do at sea, if I kept my eyes on the light that eventually I would make it back to safety-- and I did!  BEAM has been my guiding light in times of hardship, and to remind me that hope is on the horizon if I just keep moving forward. ”

“When I found out I was accepted into the Single Parent Program I was overjoyed. Shortly after I started SPP, I began having serious medical complications. It was extremely difficult for me to get to class and take care of my children because of the pain, but I pushed myself to keep going. During the times when I was at my lowest, I thought of what BEAM’s logo represents, a lighthouse. I knew, just like sailors do at sea, if I kept my eyes on the light that eventually I would make it back to safety-- and I did! BEAM has been my guiding light in times of hardship, and to remind me that hope is on the horizon if I just keep moving forward.

BEAM and its supporters have given Courtney the opportunity to earn her higher education degree in half the time. She has earned all A’s in school so far and is on track to graduate Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) with an Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies by May 2020!

BEAM and its supporters have given Courtney the opportunity to earn her higher education degree in half the time. She has earned all A’s in school so far and is on track to graduate Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) with an Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies by May 2020!

Almira will be graduating from FSCJ this spring and recently attended her Health and Sciences Pinning Ceremony in early May. Once she completes her two state exams, Almira will officially be a licensed Respiratory Therapist!

Almira will be graduating from FSCJ this spring and recently attended her Health and Sciences Pinning Ceremony in early May. Once she completes her two state exams, Almira will officially be a licensed Respiratory Therapist!

Letter from the Executive Director (Spring 2019)

Dear supporters,

I hope you have had an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful weather we are having. We’ve been able to host a couple of gatherings in Grace Garden, and this proves to be one of my favorite times of year. The garden is as prolific as our programs at BEAM.

I’m most excited to share that we are in the beginning stages of providing formalized case management services for our senior beaches neighbors, a growing poverty demographic within our service area. While this is not “new” territory for us, it has shined a light on the importance for us to do more in this space. We look forward to updating you in the coming months as we work with partners such

I’m most excited to share that we are in the beginning stages of providing formalized case management services for our senior beaches neighbors, a growing poverty demographic within our service area. While this is not “new” territory for us, it has shined a light on the importance for us to do more in this space. We look forward to updating you in the coming months as we work with partners such as Council on Aging/Beaches Dial-A-Ride, Hart Felt Ministries and Baptist Physician Partners to provide connected services to meet the needs of seniors who are living independently and could use a little extra support.

In addition, staff and volunteers have been hard at work planning for our two major events taking place later this year—Back to School with BEAM and the BEAM of Light Beach Ball fundraiser. I hope you will consider joining us for one or both. These events are critical to the work we do to assist our families in need and we are grateful to all partners, sponsors, donors and volunteers for making them successful year after year.

It is my privilege to serve as the Executive Director of this wonderful organization and I encourage you to reach out if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen our facilities or have yet to visit for a tour. We have much to be proud of—the garden, food pantries, food bank and thrift stores to name a few. I’d be more than happy to show you around!

Thank you for your ongoing support of our neighbors in our beaches community.

Sincerely,
Lori Richards

Lori@jaxbeam.org
904-241-7437 x1

2018 By The Numbers

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New in 2018

• Established a new mobile food pantry site in partnership with the Jacksonville USO and the Beaches Community Fund

• Purchased a new refrigerated truck with capital fund support from Ullmann Brown Wealth Advisors and Ponte Vedra Women’s Civic Alliance

• Opened up food pantry appointments for those who work in BEAM’s beaches area zip codes

Paths to Wellness Nutrition Program (2018 Update)

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

Single Parent Program (2018 Update)

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.

Financial Assistance Program (2018 Update)

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.

If it wasn’t for BEAM, I wouldn’t have been in the physical, mental or financial shape to help my mother when she needed me. We will be forever grateful for all that you have done.
— Mr. Doe

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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.

Food Assistance Program (2018 Update)

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.

Mobile Food Pantries Meet Client Needs

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.

Blessing of the Fleet

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!

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BEAM of Light Beach Ball 2018 Recap

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!