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.
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.
A large part of BEAM’s work in our community is to assist hardworking families by providing rent and utility assistance when times are tough and budgets are strained. In 2017, we were able to assist more than 800 families by keeping them in their homes and their children safe.
In addition, one of our busiest times during the year was post Hurricane Irma and the devastation it caused for many. With support from the First Coast Relief Fund and our donors, we were able to provide additional financial resources to those who were impacted by the storm.
We aided 92 families affected by the storm with rent or utility help for reasons such as lost wages, damage to their homes, or unplanned evacuation expenses.
Below is just one story of a client we helped this year:
Eddie, a father of two, came to BEAM looking for assistance. It had been an emotional few months for his family as he and his wife found out their second child was diagnosed with a rare cardiac condition requiring open heart surgery at just 4 weeks old. Eddie was forced to take a leave of absence from his civilian position with the Navy to focus on his family. Before he knew it, bills piled up and he was three months behind on his rent, his car insurance had lapsed and his phone had been cut off. BEAM was able to provide Eddie with rent assistance and a few referrals to local partners that helped meet his other financial needs. Eddie was able to catch up on his bills, go back at work, and we hear his baby boy is doing great!
Charles is a single father of a 3 year old son who is attending the new Early Headstart Program in Jacksonville Beach. When we first met him, he and his son were residing in a downtown shelter. His son’s mother had suddenly abandoned the child in New York, and Charles lost his job due to the time he took off to bring his son back to Florida.
He was referred to BEAM through the Early Headstart Program. We were able to assist him with clothes and shoes appropriate for interviewing and connected him to a local business looking for help. Charles got the job and is on his way to providing a stable home for his son.
It is thanks to you that we are able to give people like Charles a helping hand when they are going through emergencies. Through our programs and by connecting clients to other resources, we are able to work as a safety net on their journey towards self-sufficiency.
Hurricane Matthew was a headline in our area recently. Once the storm trackers put the First Coast in its path, our shoppers were all looking for air mattresses, camping supplies, flashlights and anything they could easily find for their emergency kits.
As luck would have it, we had just received a generous donation of camping equipment from a family in Atlantic Beach that was relocating to New York City. We were able to quickly get it in our Shetter Avenue store, where all of our camping equipment is sold.
A few hours after the storm passed, we were able to help a family whose home was seriously damaged by a fallen tree. Not only were we able to provide them with necessities for a reasonable price, we were able to give them a sense of hope in this difficult time.
Thank you to all our donors! Something you may no longer need, may be just what someone else needs.
BEAM THRIFT SUPER HERO COSTUMES
When Super Hero day came up at school, Ashley was looking for super hero costumes that the kids would love and her wallet would appreciate too. She found exactly what she was looking for after one visit to BEAM Thrift. She posted a picture of the adorable kids in their costumes with the comment, “Thank You for our awesome costumes for Super Hero Day at school. Happy momma = 3 amazing costumes for under $10. We love BEAM Thrift”. We are glad BEAM Thrift could save the day and could help the kids become superheroes for the day!