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Biology teacher Gayle Fiser and students at Darnell Cookman Middle/High School.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 11, 201512:00 PM EST

Nonprofit news: Community First Cares Foundation honors innovative teachers


The Community First Cares Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Community First Credit Union, announced the recipient of the Innovation in Education Award honoring creativity and innovation in classroom instruction in Duval County.

Gayle Fiser, a 12th-grade biology teacher at Darnell Cookman Middle/High School, will be honored today at the 24th Annual EDDY Awards at The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

The awards are an initiative of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

Fiser is recognized for her project on fish identification through the use of DNA testing. She used the $1,000 funding to buy in-class kits that students used to test the DNA of fish bought at local restaurants.

The testing helped student researchers determine if restaurants are selling what they claim to sell and not substituting other fish for the higher-grade species advertised on their menus.

The project was originally funded by the Community First PowerUP Jax partnership with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

“We are so proud to honor Gayle Fiser with this award,” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First Credit Union. “Her project showed a true commitment to innovation in the classroom and a dedication to learning that went above and beyond standard instruction.”

Eleven teachers with projects on PowerUP Jax were nominated for the award. Four finalists received $500 and Fiser received the grand prize of $1,000 toward a future or current project. The four finalists were Laura Ache of Englewood High School, Shaun Bennett of Ortega Elementary, Barbara Bradley of Chafee Trail Elementary and Amanda Sauer of the GRASP Choice Academy.

The EDDY Awards is a venture of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund to elevate the role of the city’s best teachers.

“Teachers are leaders in our community, and we want to make sure they are recognized for the incredible work they do. It’s wonderful to have the support of Community First to make sure that recognition becomes a reality,” said Trey Csar, president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.


Mutt March raises $100,000 for Jacksonville Humane Society

More than 2,000 animal lovers gathered Saturday for the Jacksonville Humane Society’s seventh annual Mutt March.

The pet walk and festival raised more than $100,000 in support of Jacksonville’s homeless pets.

The humane society is a no-kill animal shelter that has been serving Jacksonville since 1885. In 2015, the society expects to shelter and care for more than 6,000 homeless cats and dogs.


The Blood Alliance donates mobile clinic to Haiti

The Blood Alliance has partnered with the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville and the Rotary Club of Deerwood to donate a retiring Bloodmobile to Zanmi Lasante in Haiti.

The bus will be used as a mobile health clinic that will reach 3 million people.

First Coast Signs of Jacksonville is scheduled to place new donated logos on the vehicle.

At the same time, the title to the bus will be signed over to Zanmi Lasante by The Blood Alliance Chief Financial Officer Jack Wolcott.

The vehicle will be ready for shipment to Haiti by Crowley Maritime on March 22 from its Fort Lauderdale shipyard.

It is expected to arrive in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, about three days later.

Zanmi Lasante is part of Partners In Health that has served Haiti for more than 25 years. It is the country’s largest non-governmental provider of health care, operating clinics and hospitals in 11 sites with a staff of more than 5,000 Haitians.


Senior Life Foundation shutting down

The board of directors of Senior Life Foundation announced the all-volunteer organization will close this year.

It will be business as usual until then and low-income seniors with urgent needs are encouraged to call the organization’s Emergency Help Line at (904) 268-9128.

The Senior Life Foundation will accept requests from qualified seniors until funds are depleted.

According to Mari Terbrueggen, founder, CEO and president, “The reason why it will close is simply that many of its volunteers are aging and now facing serious health issues and other challenges of their own. The work of the Senior Life Foundation requires a heavy volunteer commitment and those resources are scarce.”

The mission of the Senior Life Foundation is to help meet the urgent needs of low-income seniors in Duval County with a rapid response time and to help them live independently and with dignity.

Terbrueggen said volunteers work out of their homes and pay their own expenses.

“Most importantly, we do not accept government funding. That means we have very little bureaucracy and are able to provide rapid response to resolve urgent problems, generally within 24-48 hours,” she said.

Terbrueggen said she and the members of the board “hope that others will make low-income seniors their passion and purpose, whether through another senior-serving agency, their place of worship or network of friends.

“These seniors are proud, decent, good people who deserve to have their dignity and independence, but who are no longer able to help themselves,” she said.

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