Skip to main content
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 15, 201312:00 PM EST

Nonprofit News: Highlighting Jacksonville's Philanthropic Community


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 believe would be of interest to our readers. Email 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.

$143,000 raised for autism aid

Individuals on the autism spectrum who live in Northeast Florida were the big winners at the HEAL Valley of Dreams gala and golf tournament.

HEAL, which stands for Healing Every Autistic Life, was created several years ago to help autistic children and their families living in Clay, Duval, St. Johns and surrounding counties.

Alan Pickert, current organization president and past Jacksonville Bar Association president, said the two-day event raised more than $143,000 for the local autism community.

"HEAL does such wonderful work in our local community that benefits so many people. Many people don't realize that since 2007, HEAL has raised over $1 million to serve local families and individuals affected by autism. These funds are directed toward camps, educational programs, sports, the arts and community projects solely for families on the First Coast," Pickert said.

Lawyers in Jacksonville played a major role in the success of the organization this year.

"Many of the attorneys throughout town gave their time and money to this worthy cause whether it be through the website … the Great PV Paddle for HEAL, or recent HEAL Valley of Dreams Gala and Golf," said Pickert.

Autism affects 1 in every 91 children. More children are diagnosed with autism than childhood cancer, leukemia and pediatric AIDS combined.

For more information, visit

New executive director at Dreams Come True

Dreams Come True, the only locally based nonprofit organization dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses, announced the appointment of Sheri Criswell as executive director.

Before joining Dreams Come True, Criswell was executive director at the American Diabetes Association's North Florida/South Georgia chapter since 2004 and was employed by the organization for nearly 19 years. Criswell's experience includes strategic development, donor and volunteer relations, staff management, fundraising and event planning.

"We are thrilled to have Sheri on board as our new executive director," said Heather Duncan, president of the Dreams Come True board of directors.

"We are confident her years of successful experience in Northeast Florida's nonprofit community, her proven leadership skills and her commitment to our mission, make her the perfect choice to guide us into the future and promote the work of our organization," she said.

Founded in 1984, Dreams Come True has made dreams a reality for 3,000 children in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.

The organization directs 100 percent of all donations, unless otherwise specified, to the dreams of children battling life-threatening illnesses.

For more information about the organization, visit or call (904) 296-3030.

St. Vincent's recognized for radiology

St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.

"Patient safety and quality are important to our mission and I am proud of the entire team who has undergone this rigorous review process to ensure we meet nationally accepted standards of care," said Elaine Murtha, system director of Medical Imaging, Rehabilitative Services, Radiation Oncology & Gamma Knife for St. Vincent's HealthCare.

Peer review evaluations — conducted in each breast imaging modality by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field — have determined St. Vincent's Riverside has achieved high practice standards in image quality, personnel qualifications, facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs.

"Early detection of breast cancer is key in fighting the disease," said Michael Donohue, St. Vincent's Riverside chief of radiology.

"Earning the gold seal as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence reiterates to our patients that we are offering the most technologically advanced methods and equipment in order to provide comprehensive testing," he said.

The radiology college is a national professional organization that serves more than 36,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

Florida Blue donates to seniors

Florida Blue awarded a $2,000 gift to the Senior Life Foundation to assist Duval County seniors.

"Recently a gentleman, whose total monthly income is $590, called because he was about to be evicted," said Senior Life Foundation President Mari Terbrueggen. "His story is but one example of the difference we are making thanks to the continued support of caring organizations like Florida Blue," she said.

According to Susan Towler, Florida Blue executive director of community relations, "Nonprofits play a special role in our society. They are the ones that provide the much-needed services and care for the underserved and uninsured individuals and families across Florida. We are proud to support the Senior Life Foundation."

Florida Blue's mission is to help people and communities achieve better health. Florida Blue has approximately 4 million health care members and covers 15.5 million people in 16 states through its affiliated companies. Florida Blue is a not-for-profit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company. Its headquarters is in Jacksonville and it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

For more information, visit

Founded in 2000, the Senior Life Foundation's mission is to help meet the urgent needs of low-income seniors in Duval County with a rapid response time and to help them independently live with dignity. It is an all-volunteer organization and 98 percent of income is paid out in direct assistance to seniors.

Crowley Maritime supports YMCA programs

Children attending YMCA summer camps and playing on sports teams in the Arlington area will soon benefit from Fort Caroline field enhancements following a donation from Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corp.

A check was presented by David Holden, Crowley director of human resources, to the YMCA during a Jan. 12 ceremony on the field.

Crowley employees and other community volunteers worked to lay new grass seed, install fencing, add an irrigation system and perform other tasks to improve the field's safety and function.

The upgrades will allow more than 500 children each year to participate in outside YMCA activities, including nearly 225 children who attend summer camp programs, 60 who attend after-school care and 220 who participate in team sports such as flag football and soccer.

The field also will serve adult sports programs, including lacrosse, kickball and rugby.

The YMCA's Fort Caroline field is a 31,050 square-foot property located at 8301 Fort Caroline Road.

"Crowley takes pride in this opportunity to make a difference in the Jacksonville community and for its children. Our employees have served the local area through a variety of philanthropic organizations, including volunteering for the Safe Harbor Maritime Academy, Second Harvest Food Bank, Heart for Children, Northeast Florida Hospice and so many more. This spirit of giving back has made a tremendous impact in Northeast Florida and beyond," said Holden.

Each year, Crowley employees give back to their local communities across the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean and Central America. The charitable efforts include mentoring students, fundraising, community beautification projects and donations to charitable organizations. Crowley has awarded more than 275 students from educational institutions throughout the country with scholarships since 1984. The company also has donated more than $2 million over the years to support other educational programs.

Related Stories