Creating home and food stability for those in need in Jacksonville, FL

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00:04 Now, if we can keep a family in their home, that's huge!

00:08 The long term implications of the health of our community, by helping people avoid eviction, have a dollar value as well as a human value.

00:44 Good morning, how are you?

00:45 I'm good. Um, ok, so will you tell us about, um, will you tell us about Beaches?

00:52 Sure. BEAM, or Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, is a non-profit in the Beaches communities of Jacksonville, FL. And our primary program is to provide rent and utility assistance for, um, families, for individuals, that are at immediate risk of eviction or displacement. So went life's bumps in the road show up, we're just that family, that community, that can, uh, help make a bridge for someone that's just having a difficult financial challenge, with the goal of preventing homelessness.

Uh, in addition to our rent and utilities programs, we have a very robust food assistance program. We have a food bank, we have food pantries, we do mobile deliveries, and then we also have a workforce development program. And then we do run a, uh, for profit side, I guess you could say, in our thrift store. So understanding retail management is a part of what we do as well. And out thrift stores are about a third of our income so they're really important to us in allowing us to make sure that we have the funds to provide the services we do.

02:01 You provide so many different services to so many different audiences, as well as the fact that you're talking to donors as well. So how do you, kind of, keep that message clear in order to engage donors but also serve the community?

02:15 I, I think, from a messaging standpoint, what we try to be incredibly focused on for our donors, is to be certain that they truly understand what it is that their resources are supporting. So our purpose it to make sure we're not just sharing the statistics, not the number of people who we help with rent, or the million pounds of food our food bank was able to distribute. What we really want people to know is, who are the individuals you are helping, what are their stories, what brings them to BEAM, what needs do they have, and how is the fact that we're able to help them in that crisis, uh, impact-full for their lives.

02:58 People want to feel like there's power in how they're helping and so you're, you know, you're connecting those dots between the donors and the clients.

03:06 The last couple of years has been really complicated with, uh, non-profits. So, so much financial uncertainty from a nation standpoint, the disappearance of in-person fundraisers, and so many acute needs in certain areas leading to real volatility in the world of charitable giving. So, it's, it's definitely taken it's toll. And so what has that looked like for you? What has that looked like for BEAM? And how have you adapted to continue meeting your goals?

03:39 As an organization and community, people just got incredibly creative, um, in, in terms of fundraising we sent and invitation out that said 'don't come to our party, don't buy a new dress, don't get your nails done, and send us the funds instead. And an awful lot of people did, which was really incredible. Uh, but what absolutely happened was our communities stepped up. We had people who sent us their stimulus check to say 'I don't need this but I know you know someone who does.' Uh, and BEAM is really the conduit of our communities generosity, and, and I'm proud of our community and the way that they stepped up to take care of those in need. And continue to do so.

You know, we, this isn't over for an awful lot of people, but we want you to know we're going to help get through this together because, as a business owner, you begin to worry. I mentioned our thrift stores, we had to close them down at a third of our income. How long was that going to happen? It's, it's important to remember that as a non-profit we are still a business and so we have rent to pay, and utilities to pay, and payroll to make, and all of those things to make sure your finances are in order.

04:50 There's so much complexity to running any non-profit, but specifically with so many different focus areas that you. So you need partners who can come in with the expertise to help you, um, with things you, sometimes you just quite frankly don't have time for. And why would you why would you be good at all the aspects of running the finances of a non-profit as well as having the heart for it, and then delivering the actual services, so?

05:12 Well we pay rent on a client's behalf, um, we send that rent check from our assistance account that is housed with Truist. Um, and so we're very appreciative not just for the relationships we have with our operating account, um, with our brokerage account, but our assistance account as well.

05:33 What can people do to support?

05:36 We have amazing contributors, so if anyone would like to go to, you can learn a little bit more about our organization. There's a wonderful button at the top that you can press, donate. Uh, and you can direct the dollars, if you like, to that just for our food assistance programs, or just for our programs for seniors. I think what's really important to know is that the need is great. Uh, there are so many people that you might not realize are living paycheck to paycheck.

And our clients are your hairdresser, or the person mows your lawn, or the waitress at your favorite restaurant, who is a hard working individual doing their best to take care of themselves and their family. And every now and then there's just an unexpected medical bill, an unexpected, um, car breakdown, uh, and there just isn't the funds to cover that. And so what's wonderful about BEAM is that we're just able to be that, that resource that you can come to in a difficult situation, and to be that bridge and to get you back on your feet.

06:41 That  could happen to any business owner and I think the more you share those stories the more I think people are going to recognize that there is, there's power in that generosity. And anyone who has been blessed it's been for the purpose to then bless others, really. It isn't so that we can all drive nice cars and buy bigger houses. It has to be because there's a purpose to it in order to help others around us, so.

07:03 Certainly in the United States we value rugged individualism, uh, but I think we also value community, right? We value when we link arms together and we say, this is where I live and we're gonna take care of the people here, and we're going to take care of each other. And when that happens across our country we're all just better off.