Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on nonprofit organizations that improve North Okaloosa County residents’ quality of life.
HOLT — Elie’s Voice — a Holt-based non-profit organization — operates with the mission to help children in need and to promote suicide prevention.
The organization was founded in March 2015 by sisters-in-law Angela Meeks and Jennifer Oliver after the death of 13-year-old Elie, Meeks' son.
Elie and his other siblings, at their mother’s request, went to live with Meeks’ sister-in-law, Oliver, and her husband in Laurel Hill. This move caused challenges for Elie, who was a student at Shoal River Middle School.
Elie committed suicide on Dec. 18, 2014.
The Oliver and Meeks families formed Elie’s Voice to help remove Okaloosa County children’s risk of suicide and ensure kids feel loved. The name Elie stands for “Every Life Is Essential,” the organization’s slogan.
Elie’s Voice has no paid members, according to Oliver, and is run solely by volunteers and donations. The organization works to implement suicide-prevention programs and assemblies in local schools.
“We currently service the following schools in Okaloosa County: Walker Elementary, Riverside, Shoal River, Davidson and Laurel Hill,” Oliver said.
Elie’s Voice oversees the Back Pack Buddies program that provides packs of food to children in need of food assistance outside school.
“The back packs are food for the weekends to make sure they have enough food while not receiving the meals at school each day,” Oliver said. “They receive things in the back packs like oatmeal, grits, cereal, soup or spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, fruit cups, applesauce, beef sticks, peanut butter crackers, fruit snacks [and other] assorted, individually wrapped, non-perishable food items.”
The organization also provides back packs and school supplies for each of the children in their program, as well as other children in need in the community.
“We packed over 250 back packs with school supplies this year,” Oliver said.
Elie’s Voice hosts a Christmas Stocking program each year and provides filled Christmas stockings for each of the students in their program and others in the community who may be in need.
“We have some new things coming up in 2018 with our suicide prevention program,” Oliver said. “We are going to be doing a Christmas party for the Children In Crisis, Inc.... in Fort Walton Beach. We are also collecting non-perishable food items and household items for their pantry.”
Elie’s Voice has a Facebook page where Meeks and Oliver update the community on the organization’s programs and volunteer opportunities.