The members of IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida voted and announced recently the grant recipients for 2019, awarding five $101,600 grants. Representatives of each nonprofit organization named as a finalist were present, as well as IMPACT 100 officers and members.
The grant recipients were selected from the following five categories: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Family, and Health & Recreation. Since its conception in 2012, IMPACT 100 NWF has awarded $2.7 million to nonprofits in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
The following grant recipients will be awarded $101,600 each to be used towards the betterment of their cause:
Arts and Culture Recipient – Muscogee Nation of Florida, Inc.
Project: Muscogee Nation of Florida Agri-Tourism Initiative
The Muscogee Nation of Florida Agri-Tourism Initiative completes a heritage center site to preserve the history of the Muscogee (Creek-Euchee) people and enable visitors and students to learn about the First Americans indigenous to the Country. There is currently no museum or resource for the Creek Euchee inhabitants who have called Walton County home since this area was part of Spanish West Florida documented as far back as 1767.
This project will benefit the 594 Tribal Members of the Nation by having a Tribal Center that will create employment opportunities for tribal members from the Micro Farm, be self-sufficient, preserve Walton County history, and be a unique productive business for the local area. This museum is a story of a people’s perseverance and survival methods through some of the harshest times in American history including racial extermination, Indian removal policies and Jim Crow laws.
Education Recipient – AMIKids Emerald Coast
Project: Vocational Training for At-Risk Youth
AMIKids Emerald Coast is proposing to provide vocational training services for Okaloosa County residents ages 16-24 who did not complete high school. These residents face many obstacles to success such as learning disabilities, family dysfunction, poverty, trauma, abuse, arrests, substance abuse, mental health problems, and other circumstances. Assistance in finding successful employment creates a pathway for these young men and women to change the course of their lives and become successful, contributing members of our community.
Environment Recipient – Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA)
Project: Building a Better Bay: Improving Water Quality Through Community-Led Restoration
The Choctawhatchee Bay is the heart of our community and our economy. A clean bay supports a thriving tourism industry devoted to fishing, boating, and beachgoing; a high quality-of-life for locals; and healthy habitat for the native wildlife we love so much. Unfortunately, the bay suffers the effects of pollution and threatened water quality. Through this IMPACT 100 grant, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance will shape the building blocks of a better bay.
CBA will transform our oyster shell recycling program and launch a new seagrass education and restoration initiative. By bringing oysters back into our bay, CBA will reduce erosion, create habitat, and improve water quality. By teaching students about seagrass and involving them in first-hand restoration work, CBA will give the next generation tools they need to continue creating resilient ecosystems. By investing in oyster and seagrass restoration, CBA will sustain swimmable, fishable, livable waterways for humans and wildlife alike.
Family Recipient – A Bed 4 Me Foundation
Project: Big Impact on Big Dreams
Imagine bedtime without a bed. When you think of childhood poverty, you don’t usually think of a child going without a bed yet this is often the case. Children are sleeping on the floor or doubled up with a sibling/parent because a bed is financially out of reach. Daily referrals come from teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, places of faith, family agencies, and other nonprofits who identify children in need of a bed. A Bed 4 Me delivers this gift directly to their doorstep.
Families who are low-income, graduating from homeless transition programs or leaving domestic violence shelters are all in need on a regular basis. A bed is a simple thing most of us take for granted, but it’s a luxury to the children of the working poor in our community. This is an under-served need. Funds will continue to meet this increasing need as well as a reliable all weather vehicle to transport the beds and bedding to the families. A Bed 4 Me desires to not only provide a bed but a safe place to dream.
Health and Recreation Recipient – Destin Harvest, Inc.
Project: Fortify Food Rescue
Destin Harvest (DH) seeks support to upgrade its fleet of refrigerated trucks that capture daily food donations from 29 grocery stores and retailers in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, DeFuniak Springs, and Freeport. DH recently acquired three new grocery stores in DeFuniak Springs and Freeport that represent an additional 15,000 pounds of food, or meals, delivered each month to local feeding programs.
With overwhelming need spilling into both counties from Hurricane Michael, the new grocery store pickups in Freeport and DeFuniak Springs represent an answer for local feeding programs and the people they serve. DH must upgrade its fleet of trucks to continue to distribute high-volume food donations and take on new stores. DH has already accumulated over $14,000 in repair bills this year alone. DH captured over 2.2 million pounds of food last year from all participating local food retailers and distributed it all for free to 40 feeding programs in both Okaloosa and Walton counties.
– Susan Page