Community Briefs 1/31/19


Church takes it to the streets

FLEMING ISLAND – A county park on County Road 220 will become transformed into a place of renewal and fellowship next month.

Fleming Island United Methodist Church presents “A Good Place,” which is a Fresh Expression of church, where a team of people from the church provide a free meal each week out in the community, sing praise songs, and have a 5 to 7-minute Jesus talk.

The fellowship is followed by group discussion at each table. The people serving also share meals at the table and build relationships with the guests who attend.

The fellowship takes place at 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at Armstrong Park and the dinner is free.

Nominate your senior for a Golden Years Service Award

ORANGE PARK – The 12th Annual Golden Years Gala is currently accepting nominations for its 2019 Service Awards.

Center Director Christy Fitzgerald said the awards are a “wonderful way to say thank you” to a senior adult for all of their community involvement and service.

The categories for 2019 are Volunteer Senior Man of the Year, Volunteer Senior Woman of the Year and Lifetime Achievement.

Senior adults are important to the community. They are a generation of high values, strong work ethic, commitment, integrity, generosity and loyalty. Seniors are a wonderful example to all, showing that true fulfillment is to share their time and talents through serving. Nominee must be 60 years of age and volunteer in Clay County.

Deadline is now extended until Feb. 5 and the nomination form is online at

This year’s Golden Years Gala will be held at historic Club Continental on the St. Johns River on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m. with live and silent auction. The awards program will follow.

The event will be hosted by Elder Source to benefit The Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which provides services to improve the quality of life and longer independence of hundreds of senior adults in Clay County through award-winning educational programming and events focused on health and wellness.

Visit the SCOOP website or call the office, (904) 269-5315 to purchase tickets or donate to the event.

College presents Commemoration of 400 Years of African American History

ORANGE PARK – In recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619, St. Johns River State College is participating in the “2019 Commemoration of 400 Years of African American History.”

The college will host a series of community events, including The Whole Staircase Film Festival: “The Black Atlantic, 1500 - 1800,” Black History Month trivia, a Commemoration speaker series, poetry slams, Juneteenth celebrations and more.

The 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, which Congress passed last year, established 2019 as a year-long Commemoration “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African Americans to the United States.”

The celebration kicked off this year with “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” a virtual-reality experience that takes participants on a time-travel journey to the Harlem Renaissance, as well as to Memphis in 1968 as witnesses to the Sanitation Worker’s Strike, and the aftermath of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

The community is invited to participate in the “I Am A Man” experience on Jan. 23 & 24. Additional information about this opportunity and other upcoming events and resources can be found at

Scholarship applications being accepted

JACKSONVILLE – The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida administers at least two college scholarships that are open to students who attend Clay County Schools and their deadline dates are coming soon.

The Byon M. Morris Scholarship will provide up to $5,000 and disbursed until graduation or a period up to 4 years to support tuition, books, fees, room and board and degree-related expenses for two graduating seniors who have attained Scouting’s highest ranks.

One Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America and one Gold Award winner from Girl Scouts, will receive the scholarship. Both students must demonstrate an aptitude and desire to succeed. In selecting the successful candidate, the review committee will consider academic achievements, leadership experience, desire for personal growth and financial need. All applicants must have at least a cumulative 3.0 grade point average (weighted) and plan to attend an accredited post-secondary institution on a full-time basis.

Housed at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Byon M. Morris Scholarship application and supporting documentation requirements are available at and due by March 4.

The other scholarship is the Sam and Lydia Payne Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to a student graduating from a North Florida public or private school who demonstrates an aptitude and desire to succeed.

The scholarship will support tuition and books, up to $18,000 and disbursed until graduation or a period up to 5 years, provided the recipient continues to meet the eligibility requirements. All applicants must have a cumulative 2.2-3.5 (weighted) grade point average and plan to take a full-time course load in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

In selecting the successful candidate, the review committee will consider a desire for personal growth and financial need. Housed at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Sam and Lydia Payne Scholarship application and supporting documentation requirements are available at: and due by March 4.

Summer science camp sign-ups underway

GAINESVILLE – The UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and The World Food Prize Foundation are offering summer science camp.

Registration is $350 per participant and application must be turned in by Feb. 28 online at

The camp is for rising Florida high school juniors and seniors for the 2019-2020 school year. Students are encouraged to apply for the Florida Youth Institute, a week-long summer residential camp hosted at the University of Florida. Participants experience college life at UF while learning how the agricultural, natural and life sciences impact their families and communities around the world.

Students will take part in hands-on activities and demonstrations, indoor and outdoor laboratories and campus facilities, meet CALS Dean Elaine Turner, representatives from FDACS, and current CALS students and staff. Students will also examine issues in agriculture, life sciences and natural resources, experience living in a campus residence hall and reflect on worldwide challenges such as food security.

Applicants can choose to attend one of two session weeks – July 14-19 or July 21-26.

Ridgeview High teacher nominated ‘Lifechanger’

ORANGE PARK – Ridgeview High special education teacher Stephanie Collins has been nominated for the 2018-2019 national LifeChanger of the Year award.

Collins was nominated by her friend, Jason Woodard, for her work improving the lives of special needs students, particularly those with autism. She teaches 20 students on the autism spectrum, and she differentiates her instruction to meet each students’ individual needs. Many of her students are triggered by different sounds, colors, and textures and Collins goes above and beyond to make sure they succeed, both inside and outside the classroom, according to Woodard.

As part of her instruction, Collins teaches her students life skills such as cooking and interviewing for jobs, so they can be independent after graduation.

“I have one student who is currently working at McDonalds now. I visited him at work and cried in my car when I left because I was so overwhelmed with pride for him and thankful for McDonalds for hiring my ‘kid,’” Collins said.

Recently, her students have been introduced to aquaponics and agriculture, so they can learn about having a self-sustaining life. Her long term-goal is to secure a greenhouse and chicken coop for her school, so that her students can apply what they’ve learned.

Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, LifeChanger of the Year recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.

The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 to be shared with their school or district. Grand prize finalists will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school or district. The LifeChanger award winners will receive $3,000 to be shared with their school or district.

The Spirit Award is given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination and has a $5,000 prize to be shared with their school or district. The Spotlight Award is given to a nominee in a specific discipline, which this year, is guidance counselor or social worker. The winner receives $5,000 to be shared with their school or district.

Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize finalists will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in April 2019 in Hawaii, where the Grand Prize Winner will be revealed.

A resource page with ideas for how to celebrate nominees can be found at

Hospice receives grant to aid first responders

GAINESVILLE – Haven Hospice recently received a $15,000 grant from the Appleton, Wisc.-based Thomas A. Plein Foundation to help fund veteran and first responder programs.

The grant will go toward funding Haven’s We Honor Heroes program, which shows appreciation for military and first responder patients the hospice’s 18-county service area, including Clay County.

The Plein Grant will also establish a fund to grant wishes specifically for military and first responder veterans who are in hospice care.

“The Plein Foundation gift is especially meaningful to patients and families that Haven serves,” said Gayle Mattson, Haven president. “The important veterans program now can be more fully developed and expanded to include first responders’ recognition.”

Haven plans to install a memorial in remembrance of Thomas A. Plein at its E.T. York Care Center in Gainesville.

Also referred to as The TAP Foundation, the Thomas A. Plein Foundation was established by Thomas A. Plein in the 1980s to advance his family’s philanthropic interests. The family owned 7-Up bottling plants in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and other Midwest cities. Grateful for their business success, the Pleins believed in giving back to their community.

Hall to be honored as of 12 “Women with Heart”

JACKSONVILLE – A Clay County woman is one of 12 Northeast Florida women to be recognized at the third annual Women with Heart Luncheon to benefit Volunteers in Medicine.

Virginia Hall, senior director for advocacy and community engagement for Ascension/St. Vincent’s Healthcare, will be honored on Feb. 6 at the Florida Blue conference center on their Deerwood Campus.

The 12 nominees are being honored for their commitment to leadership, advocacy, passion and hard work.

“We are honoring them for their dedication to the health and well-being of our community,” said Jennifer Ryan, CEO of Volunteers in Medicine.

The “Women with Heart” Luncheon will kick off a year-long signature awareness and fund raising campaign for Volunteers in Medicine. Each honoree has committed to a month of advocacy for, and service to the clinic. During their month of service, Women with Heart honorees will wear the new 2019 “Heart of Jacksonville” – a $15,000 diamond necklace custom designed by Allen’s Jewelers. The necklace will serve as a conversation starter to further increase awareness of the mission of Volunteers in Medicine.

Tickets for the drawing are still available for only $100. Only 150 tickets will be sold, and you need not be present to win.

Limited tables and tickets for the luncheon are available. Call (904) 399-2766 for sponsorship and ticket information.

Two Clay Ace Hardware stores honored

JACKSONVILLE – You know them as the place of the helpful hardware pro and know two Clay County Ace Hardware stores have the chops to prove it.

Ace Hardware Corp. recently honored Hagan Ace Hardware stores in Orange Park and Green Cove Springs with its “Pinnacle Performance Retailing” designation for outstanding performance. The Pinnacle program measures how well Ace stores on doing to maintain what the promise in their brand – be helpful, provide quality products and provide a good customer experience.

The Hagan Ace Hardware team is one of only a few hundred Ace retailers to achieve this prestigious Pinnacle status. To achieve Pinnacle Performance Retailing, the team at Hagan Ace Hardware successfully completed a number of key performance drivers that will help them provide a better overall shopping experience in their local communities.

“Achieving Pinnacle Performance Retailing is a tremendous accomplishment for an Ace store,” said John Tovar, vice president for retail operations and new business, Ace Hardware Corp.

“The team at Hagan Ace Hardware is incredibly pleased to have earned the status as a Pinnacle Performance Retailing store,” said Jacob Hagan, director of store operations at Hagan Ace Hardware. “What this means for our customers is that we are more committed than ever to providing our loyal shoppers with the best possible retail experience; from customer service to product offerings and more, we’re taking ‘Ace helpful’ to a new level.”

Celebrate Clay application deadline is Feb. 5

FLEMING ISLAND – The Paul E. and Klare N. Reinhold Foundation Inc. is accepting applications for the 2019 Celebrate Clay awards, a community service awards program that recognizes remarkable organizations and individuals serving the Clay County community. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of community judges and cash awards will be presented at the Awards Breakfast to those nonprofit groups providing outstanding services during calendar year 2018. Up to $75,000 in cash awards, ranging from the $750 Category Awards to the $10,000 Paul E. Reinhold Community Service Award, will be presented at the 2019 Awards Breakfast on April 23. The 2019 program will bring the total cash awards to $765,000 presented to Clay County area nonprofit organizations since Celebrate Clay’s inception in 2009.

All 501(c)3 nonprofit groups including school and church outreach groups that provided services to Clay County residents in 2018 are encouraged to apply. Details and applications are available at The application deadline is Feb. 5.


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