After reviewing funding requests from many nonprofit organizations in Okaloosa and Walton counties, Impact100 of Northwest Florida, Inc.
, recently announced the ten (10) grant finalists for 2021. Representatives of the organizations were present at the announcement, as well as Impact100 NWF officers and members. The finalists were selected from the following five focus areas: Arts & Culture; Education; Environment, Recreation & Preservation; Family, and Health & Wellness. At its Nov. 7 Annual Meeting, Impact100 NWF members will hear presentations from each of the finalists and will vote for this year's four $104,500 grant recipients.
The finalists include:
ARTS & CULTURE
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida: Building Community - Preserving and Celebrating Regional Arts
Heritage Museum was founded in 1969 as the Historical Society of Okaloosa and Walton, Inc., to collect, preserve, and study historical artifacts pertaining to Northwest Florida's heritage while educating the public. The project is to construct a new wing that includes ADA compliant bathroom facility, updated audio/visual A/V capability and will double current capacity for classes, tours, lectures, meetings, expositions and events. and allow HMNF to expand historical such as the 1975 Vietnamese Refugee Camp at Eglin AFB. This will also provide a greater possibility of governmental funding through grants.
Stage Crafters: The Show Must Go On – Save Our Community Theater’s Home
For more than 49 years, Stage Crafters Community Theatre and its all-volunteer members have brought the performing art of live theater to the area through its four-show Main Stage seasons, "One Act" performances, school programs, and non-profit fund-raising performances. In 1974 Stage Crafters built a rehearsal warehouse on leased city property. With the current lease expiring in two years, the City of FWB plans to increase the rent from $100 to $24,000 a year. This will bring an end to FWB's community theatre, as Stage Crafters cannot afford the increase. FWB has agreed to sell Stage Crafters the property pending receipt of an Impact 100 grant. If Stage Crafters can secure their current home, they will continue to serve our community well into the future.
FloridaOne DMAT: “Training Facility for First Responders
FloridaOne is a group of healthcare professionals and first responders providing medical and response training to our community for 35 years. The facility provides a meeting and training space for our healthcare partners, first responders and community and provides a critical staging area during emergencies and disasters. Its specific goal and objective are to increase the space and its ability to provide medical and response training to our community. The organization will renovate their current space to accommodate the computers and technical equipment needed for training, as well as enable them to increase the number of trainees it can accommodate per session. Recent events and the area’s population growth has increased training requests and confirms the need for more space. The improved space will accommodate and enhance the training and staging capabilities for readiness and response for disasters and future growth.
U4aGC: HOPE SQUAD Expansion – More Schools More Communities
In 2019, United for a Good Cause expanded their HOPE SQUAD peer-to-peer suicide prevention program into the Okaloosa County School District, starting with all middle and high schools in 2020-2021. In 2021, Hope Squad is expanding in to all Okaloosa elementary schools. Hope Squad is now planning to expand Hope Squad program to all of Walton County schools in 2022. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among youth across the country. It is impacting younger and younger children. Our 4-county area in NWFL ranked top 3 in suicides per 100,000 statewide ages 10-14, and top 10 in ages 15-18. Florida's average suicide rate per 100,000 is 5.1. Okaloosa's, 9.4 and Walton's, 8.0. 36 youth aged 10-24 died by suicide over a 5-year period ending 2019 in Okaloosa/Walton Counties. The Impact100 grant is requested to support the Hope Squad programs to reduce and prevent youth suicides.
ENVIRONMENT, RECREATION & PRESERVATION
Coastal Conservation Association: Redfish Restoring Project
CCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of Florida’s marine resources and coastal environment. Since 2010, redfish populations in the Panhandle have declined due to overfishing and loss of marine habit, as a result, weakening the overall ecosystem in Choctawhatchee Bay. In effort to mitigate the declining redfish population, Florida has lowered the limit for recreational anglers from two fish person, per day to one fish per person, per day. This project will restore the stock of one of Florida’s most iconic and sought-after species, which in turn, will also support a healthier community and stimulated economy.
Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS): Replacing the Dinosaurs – New Clinic Medical Machines
PAWS is the largest and most-established animal shelter in Okaloosa County. Each year, PAWS sees 7,000 homeless, ill and/or abused animals. PAWS a operates a low-cost veterinary clinic offering spay/neuter surgeries, rabies vaccinations, microchips and other essential care. Local low-cost veterinary care is non-existent, contributing to thousands of sick and unaltered pets, and feral cats. To treat shelter animals and provide affordable care for pets, PAWS opened its current clinic in 1995. However, the current equipment is out dated, allowing PAWS to only offer minimum care. PAWS plans to open a new clinic in the future. The Impact100 grant would enable PAWS to obtain the new clinic equipment now and to immediately offer more complete and inexpensive clinic services. All the new equipment will be moved to the new clinic when opened.
Fresh Start: Sell More = Help More Fresh Start takes Aim at More Capacity
Fresh Start provides fully furnished and outfitted apartment to 22 families with children who are facing homelessness. It also provides life skills education classes to the residents to help them achieve self-sufficiency as part of a 9 month Transitional program. Fresh Start has 22 apartments. The Repeat Street Thrift Store provides over half of the revenue required for the Fresh Start program. The organization is well supported by donors, condos, and furniture stores, picking up donations on 4 of the 6 days they are open. A small trailer and old pickup truck is used to get these donations. The grant request is for a new, dependable box truck with a lift, which would save the money spent for repairs and multiple trips. Most importantly, it would enable Repeat Street to increase inventory and sales. Thus, it would significantly increase the Repeat Street funding that supports the Fresh Start programs.
The Salvation Army Community Outreach: Canteen Truck
Every year, natural disasters destroy local economies and devastate lives. The Salvation Army Canteen Truck is on the spot, providing relief within hours to first responders and loss victims, because we are already part of the community. This vehicle also allows the SA to be on the streets delivering food to the homeless, less fortunate neighborhoods as well as being involved in youth and feeding programs. The Canteen is 30 years old and is set to be retired. The grant would provide funding to help purchase a new canteen as it would fulfill the local SA’s required portion of the cost and their Territorial Headquarters will help with the balance. A new Canteen will have updated equipment which will make it reliable, dependable and efficient. Dependability is crucial for us responding quickly.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Point Washington Medical Center (PWMC): Building a Heathier Community
Since 2017 PWMC has operated a no-fee for service, volunteer driven clinic and delivers high quality medical care in a safe, non-traditional setting for our community. The clinic offers a multitude of services for all ages, including wellness education focusing on the management of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. PWMC quickly began experiencing growing pains, a positive problem, and plans to build a 4,750 square foot facility that will transform the clinic into a one stop shop for comprehensive care, including wellness education. Impact 100’s funding would support outfitting and furnishing the building's lobby education center and teaching kitchen. This wellness education center will support PWMC’s efforts as they continue to fill the healthcare gap.
Sharing & Caring of Okaloosa County: Building Expansion
Sharing and Caring is food bank providing a staple of foods for needy individuals and families. We opened our doors in 1985 and have operated in our 1440 square foot facility since 1990. We have expanded our services to clients to include food given every 15 days, personal care items and prescription assistance vouchers. Sharing and Caring is all-volunteer. By expanding our building, we can accommodate more clients. This expansion will more than double our pantry food storage area so we can partner with Shelter House, Fresh Start and possibly One Hopeful Place to also serve their clients. We will increase the quantity and diversity of food to our clients and join Feeding the Gulf Coast as a new food source. It will provide more storage capacity when hurricanes and Covid-19 type challenges arrive. By enlarging all walkways and doorways, our facility will be handicap/wheelchair accessible. Our goal is to help our clients improve and maintain their ability to live healthy and independently.