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Jessica Bartlett and Angelica Matos participated in the On Campus Transition (OCT) program at the University of North Florida and with the assistance of The Arc Jacksonville and the First Coast Business Leadership Network found positions with one of Jacksonville’s largest employers.

Nonprofit News

As our community continues to face a tight economy and shrinking budgets, the Daily Record has established this page that will each week chronicle the efforts of local nonprofit organizations. Bailey Publishing & Communications invites all members of the local nonprofit community to submit news, announcements, success stories and any other information they feel would be of interest to our readers. E-mail to: nonprofitnews@baileypub.com.

We also encourage our readers to become more aware of the needs of these worthy organizations as they try to continue to provide valuable services with reduced resources.

Arc Jacksonville aiding education

Angelica Matos and Jessica Bartlett have successfully completed the On Campus Transition (OCT) program at the University of North Florida and with the assistance of The Arc Jacksonville and the First Coast Business Leadership Network obtained positions at First Coast Services Options (FCSO), one of Jacksonville’s largest employers.

Created to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in all aspects of college life, the On Campus Transition program is a private school created from the partnership between UNF and The Arc Jacksonville. From attending classes and joining campus clubs and organizations to simply enjoying recreational and leisure activities the OCT program integrates students within an all-inclusive environment and encourages them reach their full potential.

“With the economy the way it is, I did not expect to get a position so soon,” said Matos. “I am very grateful for this opportunity I have with FCSO and I appreciate everything that The Arc Jacksonville and UNF have done to help me get a job. Without them this process would have taken a lot longer.”

Both Matos and Bartlett successfully graduated from the OCT program in May. The hiring was facilitated by The Arc Jacksonville, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities unlock their potential to take on valued roles in the community.

“The Arc Jacksonville had been talking with me and potential employers for a long time trying to find me a position while I was in the OCT,” said Bartlett. “I did not expect to find a job so quickly, but I knew that they would find a place for me in the workplace. I wanted to prove that I am capable of working as well and as hard as anyone else.”

The positions for Matos and Bartlett were made possible through the First Coast Business Leadership Network, Jacksonville’s branch of the Business Leadership Network, which has 43 networks in 32 states including 12 in Florida.

“My first weeks at work were like my first weeks at school. I did not know what to expect and I did not know if everyone would like me or not, but now I realize that I am just like them,” said Matos. “I can do what you can do, I am just different like everyone else is, and that is what makes us all unique.”

Bartlett moved to Jacksonville Beach when she was two years old and attended public schools through high school. She started the OCT program in January 2007 and since she had always enjoyed working with young children Bartlett chose classes that were geared toward understanding and educating children. While taking classes, she also volunteered at the UNF daycare and the Child Development Research Center.

Matos was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and attended several schools specifically geared towards individuals with developmental disabilities before seeking out more independent environments in high school and college. After a few years in the OCT, she became more confident by participating in regular classroom activities and doing assignments with her classmates. Matos also worked at the Fine Arts Center on campus where she interacted with UNF students and visitors.

The Arc Jacksonville is a non-profit organization founded in 1965 whose mission is to provide advocacy and quality services that enable people with developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential, enhance their quality of life and be active participants in their communities. The On Campus Transition program is one of few similar programs in the nation. The program at UNF has received local, state and national recognition.

Delaney named 2010 First Coast Heart Ball Chairman

The First Coast American Heart Association has announced University of North Florida President John Delaney as the committed volunteer leading the charge to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“I am honored to serve as your Chairman of the American Heart Association’s 2010 First Coast Heart Ball. In accepting such a prestigious commitment, I pledge to all of our current and future supporters that the 2010 First Coast Heart Ball will be bigger and better than those that have come before it.

“I feel privileged to be a part of one of the most highly valued non-profit organizations in our nation. Our local American Heart Association is impacting the First Coast community in ways many of us overlook each day. AHA is present on every athletic field that is equipped with a life-saving automated external defibrillator protecting our students. AHA is present in each restaurant where you are able to breathe clean, smoke-free air. AHA is present in every hospital where doctors are able to save countless lives with technology developed from research funded by AHA. You can see the effect of your donor dollar everywhere. Scientists are continually making breakthroughs with certain types of heart defects and preventive medicines. The 2010 Heart Ball will focus on raising funds to make sure every pediatric research proposal can be funded. You can be a part of this ground breaking work,” said Delaney.

The date and location for the event will be announced later.

Public Defenders deliver school supplies

Fourth Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk, his Chief Assistant Refik Eler and Paralegal Lori Frank went to the Sulzbacher Center last week to deliver back to school supplies to the children who call the Sulzbacher Center home

The staff at the Public Defender’s Office collected supplies and delivered them to the Barnett Children’s Building on Wednesday afternoon. It’s an example of the Public Defender’s Office commitment to volunteerism at the Center.

Eler serves on the Center’s board of directors; a team of PDO staff sponsors, prepares and serves dinner to residents on a regular basis and a new pro bono legal clinic is beginning in September.

“We believe it is very important to give back to our community in any way we can,” said Shirk.

Panera helping feed kids

Like many non-profit organizations, Second Harvest Food Bank of North Florida usually struggles to get through lean times each summer. The problem is exacerbated as many of the children they serve at schools during the school year are not ensured at least one nutritional meal per day during summer break.

Panera Bread answered that need this summer by linking a traditional summer beverage with a fund-raising campaign to help feed hungry children in the community. The children-helping-children summer campaign will conclude at the Lemonade for Hunger Aid wrapped up last week when the girls of Girls Inc. gathered at the Landing to offer free lemonade for donations.

Panera Bread launched Lemonade for Hunger Aid in June. The campaign offered the Jacksonville community two ways to help raise thousands of dollars to support Second Harvest’s Kids Cafe Summer Feeding Program, which serves more than 10,000 meals per week while children are out of school. Panera Bread pledged to donate $1 for each of its new Frozen Lemonade treats sold in their 12 Jacksonville area locations as well as match dollar-for-dollar sales generated from community Lemonade for Hunger Aid lemonade stands up to a collective total of $5,000.

“The initiative not only resulted in the maximum $5,000 pledge from Panera Bread but also earned us nearly $500 over and above their match which translates to about 33,000 meals,” said Tom Strother, Advancement Manager for Second Harvest Food Bank of North Florida. “The campaign got community kids directly involved in helping other children in need.”

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