Letter from the Executive Director

Dear friends of BEAM,

As I arrived at the BEAM offices on a recent morning, I found our Garden Manager, Mary Ellen pulling weeds and checking on the progress in the vegetable beds. The plants were glistening in the early morning sun, and the space was full of new beginnings and possibilities. It was a wonderful sight to behold at the start of the day, and reminded me of how fortunate I feel to be joining this amazing organization! With just a few weeks in, I continue to learn the scope and breadth of all that happens and am hearing about all the people who are touched by the programs and opportunities that make up BEAM. I am truly in awe of the dedicated and hardworking volunteers I’ve had the opportunity to meet so far. They bring such obvious joy to the day to day work that is our mission. I feel very blessed to be here at BEAM! I’ve been introduced to some exciting accomplishments in my first few days. Mayport Market is an exciting new adventure for BEAM, made possible by a wonderful partnership with the staff at Mayport Elementary, Palms Presbyterian Church and Publix Supermarket Charities.

Each Wednesday afternoon during early release time, BEAM staff and Palms volunteers create a mini farmers market where the elementary students and their families choose healthy foods to supplement their grocery expenses. The Mayport Market is important to the healthy choice options available to families living in a “food desert”.

Last week, the second group of women in our Single Parent Program celebrated all the goals they achieved during their first 16 weeks in the program. One parent participant, Keshonna, shared how she was able to stay employed in her current job through a collaborative effort with BEAM and Prodigy Child Care Center that allowed her to have reliable child care when her unstable child care fell through. This program is fairly new to BEAM, and is a wonderful example of how the organization has matured to be focused not only on meeting emergency needs but assisting families on building a more self-sufficient future. Everyone who helps assure that the resources are available to make this new program happen shares in her success.

If you have not already heard, BEAM is fortunate to be a part of the Tour de Farm event on November 19th. It is an honor for our Grace Garden to be invited to participate in this Slow Food First Coast event. This is the second time BEAM has been invited to open our garden and facilities to “foodies” from all over Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties. Join us for a fun-filled morning of beautiful vegetables, taste tastings and seed starting! For more information, watch our Facebook page. We hope to see you there.

With gratitude,
Lori