News

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.

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.”

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.

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!

Back to School with BEAM 2018 Recap

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!

Letter from the Executive Director (Fall 2018)

Dear Supporters,

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!

Gratefully,

Lori Richards
Lori@jaxbeam.org
904-241-7437 x1

New "Healthy Choice" Food Pantries

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!

 

Rebecca Cheney receiving a medallion for her Healthy Choice food labeling system project at the University of North Florida's Osprey Community Engagement Medallion Awards Ceremony.

Rebecca Cheney receiving a medallion for her Healthy Choice food labeling system project at the University of North Florida's Osprey Community Engagement Medallion Awards Ceremony.

Volunteer Spotlight: National Volunteer Month 2018

BEAM would like to thank the volunteers that participated in National Volunteer Month this April! 

Publix Serves Day volunteers who built two new boxes in the Grace Garden, painted the Jax Beach food pantry and sorted food at our Beaches Community Food Bank.

Publix Serves Day volunteers who built two new boxes in the Grace Garden, painted the Jax Beach food pantry and sorted food at our Beaches Community Food Bank.

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.

Beach Church in Jacksonville Beach donated 8,793 pounds of food.

Beach Church in Jacksonville Beach donated 8,793 pounds of food.

One Grandmother's Story

Meet Karen

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.”

Single Parent Program: Client Success Story

Meet Tammy

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.

Letter From the Executive Director

Dear Supporters,

As my six month mark approaches (which is hard to believe!), I reflect on my time here and am still in awe of the incredible community support we receive. BEAM is truly something special and it is because of each of you.

As you may know, our mission is to provide emergency assistance and a path to economic stability.

In addition to our rent and utility financial assistance work, for the past several years our BEAM offices have served as a free tax preparation site. Becoming a tax site each year has saved many of our hardworking beaches families several hundred dollars in preparation fees. It has also provided
them a trusted place to work closely with an IRS-certified volunteer who is trained to maximize their return.

I am proud to report that this year, RealSense volunteers completed more than 260 returns at BEAM saving taxpayers over $50,000 in preparation fees. In addition, the tax refunds from those returns totaled over $300,000 (with $115,000 as a result of Earned Income Tax Credit credits)! What an incredible way to provide financial relief to families living paycheck to paycheck.

I am also excited to share that in an effort to be more accessible to our hungry neighbors, we are beginning to pilot Saturday food pantry hours at both our Mayport and Jacksonville Beach locations. We will be open the first and third Saturdays in Mayport from 10 am – 2 pm and the second and fourth Saturdays from 10 am – 2 pm. Should you have an interest in volunteering on a Saturday, please let us know!

Thank you for the many ways you support BEAM and our beaches community.


Sincerely,
Lori Richards, Executive Director