M y last blog post focused on the kindness and generosity of some of our Beeline colleagues who live outside of the Jacksonville office. From Chicago to London, there are several inspiring examples of Beeline colleagues who are dedicated and passionate about giving back to their communities.
My last stop on the road to highlighting Beeline’s amazing philanthropic individuals is in Beeline’s headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. Here are just some of my favorite stories of benevolence.
First on my Jacksonville list is Beth Norman. She has been a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida organization, which matches adult volunteers with children facing adversity. Beth has been volunteering as a Big Sister for four and half years and she is currently matched with a young lady named Tembria. Beth enjoys spending time with her Little Sister a few times a month, mentoring her and no doubt building a friendship that will last a lifetime.
There is another Big Sister among us; however, she wishes to remain anonymous. She has been matched with her Little Sister since July of 2013. She was able to form an instant bond with not only her new little sister but also with the child’s entire family. Like Beth, she spends several days a month doing fun activities and mentoring her Little Sister. This family is wealthy in both love and spirit, but lives on a very tight budget. To ensure the mother and her children have presents to open on Christmas, our anonymous volunteer and the Big Sister of a sibling worked their network to gather gift cards, toys, and clothing. In fact, they were able to collect enough to make sure that all the family members received new clothes, hot meals, and toys. Many of these donations came from Beeline colleagues, which is extraordinarily heartwarming.
Shannon Bradford has been actively involved in many charitable events. As a member of the Rotaract of Florida’s First Coast, Shannon has participated in Habijax, a volunteer based organization that builds high quality, affordable housing for families in Jacksonville. She also donned her Castle Door Princess costume for the Ninth Annual Halloween Doors & More for the Community PedsCare organization, which benefits children with life-threatening or life-limited conditions. In addition to these major events, Shannon participates with her Rotary group a couple of times a month to practice “service above self.” Shannon has also participated in 5K events such as Light the Night Walk in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
When asked about which event she is most proud of, it was her fundraising efforts for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Shannon was selected as a 2013 honoree for the organization’s annual event, “Jacksonville’s Finest,” which honors young business professionals between the ages of 21 and 39 who exemplify leadership qualities and are active in the community. Each honoree commits to raise at least $1,500 for cystic fibrosis medical research through individual and group fundraising. Shannon was among the Top Five Overall Fundraisers for the event, raising over $3,300 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Needless to say, Shannon is a philanthropy superstar.
Rob Emerson volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem in Duval County. His role is to speak up for the best interest of children who have come into the court’s jurisdiction due to abuse or harm by a parent. He recently shared a success story that really resonated with me. Rob was assigned a case that included four children that were subjected to severe neglect and endangerment. Over the course of 14 months, Rob kept a watchful eye on the children and testified in court on behalf of the children to make sure they were receiving their basic needs, such as, food, clothing, medical care, supervision, and more. Rob describes one of his most memorable days spent with these children:
“One of the best experiences I had was taking the kids to a Jacksonville Suns baseball game last summer. Before the game they were given the opportunity to play on the field in mini-clinics teaching them the basics of baseball. We scarfed down hotdogs, popcorn, and soda. The kids were engaged in the game and had tons of questions during our time at the ballpark. It was priceless.”
My favorite part of Rob’s story is that a loving family recently adopted all four of the children. The children had a new home and they were able to stay together as siblings. Here’s the best part: the children asked Rob to join them for their first Thanksgiving in their new home. Beautiful.
Emilie Johnson loves her furry friends so much, she volunteers with three main organizations, including First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP), Jacksonville Humane Society, and the City of Jax Animal Care and Protective Services. At FCNMHP, she is a jack-of-all-trades. She helps with adoption events, the transport of animals, spay/neuter outreach, feral cat initiatives, and fundraising projects. This organization helps people with financial hardship keep their pets by providing food and other assistance. At Jacksonville Humane Society, she spends time feeding and caring for orphaned and neo-natal kittens in their Kitten nursery. Sometimes it is cleaning cages, bottle feeding, and socializing older kittens. However, she spends most of her time walking and socializing dogs. This is what Emilie had to say about her favorite memories of volunteering:
“The pet food bank has provided many memorable occasions – there are so many people who are so appreciative of even a little bit of help. Most would feed their pets before themselves and what we do allows them to not have to worry about making that choice. We have many elderly people who participate in the program, too, and the food bank lets them keep their best friends on limited incomes. Last December, we reached over 500,000 lbs of food distributed and are well on our way to 1M. We average 15,000-18,000 lbs PER DISTRIBUTION given out. This usually accounts for about 500 or so dogs and cats.”
True to the heart of a volunteer, Emilie spoke more about the benefits of the organization than her actual time volunteering.
For Jessica Ashcraft, volunteering at an organization wasn’t enough, so instead, she went out and started her own non-profit organization called Streets for Soldiers. This simple, but amazing tribute to our soldiers is a wonderful way to honor their service. Here is how it works in Jessica’s own words.
“Streets for Soldiers is where we work with local land and real estate developers to name newly built streets after local military heroes. Streets for Soldiers aims to honor, celebrate, and remember local military men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Naming a street after a soldier is a simple, yet meaningful way to show appreciation and commitment to the care of our heroes.”
Last, but certainly not least, is Dante Amodeo. Even with a family that requires some extra care, Dante and his wife Deborah find time to graciously offer their time and money to support the causes they believe in. In addition to giving 5 percent of his salary to his church to support a local mission, BEAM, and other local initiatives, Dante gives 3 percent of salary to a group called Transitions Global. Transitions Global assists girls who have been rescued from sexual trafficking through counseling, health service, and job placement. The women that come out of this program go on to be teachers, nurses, small business owners, and more. A few summers ago, Dante travelled to Cambodia for 10 days and met the staff and some of the girls/women in the program. He has been giving to Transitions Global ever since his visit. In fact, he is working on a non-fiction book about this group. Dante is also involved with Compassion International, an organization that encourages others to sponsor a child living in poverty.
It doesn’t stop there. Dante and Deborah also volunteered for a major event for Stop Hunger Now. Both Dante and his wife were some of the local coordinators for an international meal packaging program here in Jacksonville. They took in approximately 35K pounds of food on a Friday night, and alongside 700 other volunteers on Saturday, transformed those food donations into 150,000 meals. These meals were then shipped to Haiti. This was Dante and Deborah’s first experience volunteering for this group, and they plan to volunteer with them again in the future.
I am personally overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion of all of the volunteers within the Beeline Jacksonville office. I’m proud to work with colleagues who help complete strangers and animals, simply out of the kindness of their hearts. It only fuels my inspiration to search for ways that I can contribute to my community, as well. Now that you know what inspires me, I leave you with this question: “What Inspires You?” I would love to know, and encourage you to leave a comment below!