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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, May 5, 200912:00 PM EST

Nonprofit News


from staff

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: [email protected].

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.

Journey into Womanhood empowers young women

Empowerment Resources will celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of program participants and award two scholarships at the Fifth Annual Journey Into Womanhood Scholarship Banquet. The event will take place June 6 at 1 p.m. at the Jacksonville Marriott. Tickets are $40 per person and proceeds will benefit the Journey Into Womanhood (JIW) program and the scholarship fund.

More than 250 people attended last year’s banquet and Empowerment Resources anticipates a larger turnout this year. Themed “Happy Birthday” and inspired by its 5th year, Empowerment Resources’ flagship program culminates with the annual banquet where scholarships will be awarded to two JIW graduates: Talia McClain, a senior at Englewood High School, and Courtney Hammond a senior at Orange Park High School. Both plan to attend a four-year university to further pursue their education.

Program participants will provide testimonials on how JIW has empowered them to “dream big” and make their dreams a reality. The young ladies will take a step into the elegant side as they model formal attire and finally, showcase their talent. JIW alumni will also participate in the ceremonies. Angela Spears from Ch. 12 / 25 will be the master of ceremonies.

A small grassroots organization, Empowerment Resources was established in 2002. The organization seeks to nurture and foster the development of leadership and a positive self-concept. The mission is to empower youth and their families to become successful leaders in the community.

Empowerment Resources currently offers the following services: the Journey Into Womanhood program, life-skills workshops for male and female teens and retreats.

To date, the organization has served 300 youth in Duval and surrounding counties with its programs and outreach services. Empowerment Resources is a volunteer run and driven organization run and governed by a dedicated group of volunteers.

Empowerment Resources’ signature program is JIW. “JIW promotes leadership development in teen girls ages 9-17 and addresses the real issues youth are faced with today,” said Elexia Coleman-Moss, founder and executive director. This rite of passage program has been designed with 12 concepts targeted for female adolescents and addresses the issues that plague girls and their voyage into womanhood. Sessions include workshops, cultural trips, community service projects and address topics such as character development, educational enrichment, etiquette, money management, abstinence and a parent support group.

“We are excited that we are celebrating our fifth banquet along with the first session of young ladies celebrating their journey into adulthood, success and more importantly, self love,” said Coleman-Moss.

For tickets, corporate sponsorship, banquet information or information about programs and services please call 268-8287 or e-mail [email protected].

Letter carriers assist Second Harvest Saturday

With the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Florida facing its greatest demand for food in the agency’s 29-year history, it is calling on the First Coast community to join in the cause of fighting hunger and also provide important food resources for its neighbors in need during the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive Saturday, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.

This year’s food drive may be the most important ever for Second Harvest and other nonprofit organizations in Northeast Florida, according to executive director Wayne Rieley, who said the Food Bank has already provided 1.97 million meals this year – 297,000 more than at this time a year ago. Demand for resources from Second Harvest increased by more than 32 percent in 2008, according to Rieley, and the increase has not slowed this year.

Food distribution at Second Harvest has steadily risen in recent years, from 6.62 million pounds in 2007, to 7.65 million in 2008 and a projected 8.9 million pounds in 2009.

“Over the past year, we have seen more and more people reaching out for help,” Rieley said. “Tough choices are being made in homes throughout our community, and many times those decisions involve whether to buy food instead of paying utility bills, purchasing gasoline, securing prescription medicines or paying rent. The NALC Food Drive gives us all a chance to help provide resources for people who have come upon hard times. It offers the best opportunity we have all year to bring nonperishable goods into the Food Bank that we can use throughout the summer.”

Rieley said that if everyone in Jacksonville donates one can or box of food Saturday, Second Harvest will collect more food this year than it has in the last four years of the food drive combined.

“These donations will come at the perfect time,” added Rieley.

Although the NALC effort is a national event, much of the food donated in the Jacksonville area will directly benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides food to more than 520 community programs such as church pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and senior citizen centers in 18 counties. The NALC Food Drive also provides much-needed food during the typically lean summer months when children are unable to receive the free or reduced-fee lunches available during the school year.

More than 285,000 pounds of food was donated to the Food Bank through the NALC event in 2008 - an increase of more than 81,000 pounds from 2007, and Rieley is hopeful for more than 300,000 pounds of donated products this year.

This is the 17th annual “Stamp Out Hunger,” which is the largest one-day food drive in the United States. Residents are asked to leave nonperishable food donations in bags or boxes by their mailboxes, which will be picked up by their Postal Service letter carriers as they deliver mail on their routes. Publix has donated bags that will be distributed to mailboxes throughout North Florida, but any bag or box can be used.

Rieley said the items most needed by the food bank include rice, pasta and canned meats but he was quick to point out that all nonperishable donations are welcome.

“This is the easiest opportunity people throughout the First Coast have to reach out and help somebody in need,” Rieley said. “All a person needs to do is leave food at their mailbox.”

EverBank swinging hammers for HabiJax

EverBank has teamed with HabiJax, Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville to build three new homes in Jacksonville this year. The bank will dispatch its employees to contribute 210 hours of labor at the construction sites, with production already underway on the 53rd HabiJax home sponsored by EverBank.

Since 1995 EverBank has invested over $1.93 million and donated 28,000 employee volunteer hours, resulting in 52 new homes built for families in the Jacksonville community.

“During a tough economic downturn, HabiJax is especially important to the people of Jacksonville. EverBank and our employees look forward each year to reaching out to the community through HabiJax, in order to bring the American Dream of home ownership to those in need,” said EverBank Chair and CEO Rob Clements.

After its contribution to HabiJax this year, the bank can count 55 new homes in the Jacksonville area, the highest number of sponsored homes by any single company in the region.

“When EverBank invests in HabiJax, they invest in families. Habitat for Humanity has shown that by building high-quality, affordable housing: families can provide stability for their children; their sense of dignity and pride grow; their health, physical safety and security improve; and their educational and job prospects increase,” said Mary Kay O’Rourke, president and CEO of HabiJax. “We salute EverBank for being such a staunch supporter of ours through the years and we couldn’t do what we do without their overwhelming support.”

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