Impact100 helps four nonprofits help the community with $100K grants. Who are the recipients?

Kevin Robinson
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — Impact100 of Northwest Florida announced its four grant recipients Sunday, awarding a quartet of area nonprofits more than $100,000 each to further their good works.

The concept of Impact100 is simple: 100 women donate $1,000 each, forming a $100,000 grant that allows a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Okaloosa County or Walton County to accomplish extraordinary things.

With the local chapter of Impact100 standing at 418 members, the organization now collects enough donations to issue four grants of $104,500 each. 

The members of Impact100 of Northwest Florida each donate $1,000 to form a minimum $100,000 grant that helps a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Okaloosa County or Walton County to accomplish extraordinary things.

Previously:IMPACT 100 to announce 2021 grant finalists

Related:Opportunity Place shelter plans major expansion using grant from Impact100 of NWF

This year's recipients were United for a Good Cause, Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, Fresh Start for Children and Families, and Sharing and Caring of Okaloosa County.

Impact100 of Northwest Florida President joyce gillie gossom described Impact100 as a force multiplier for both individual donors and for the community good.

"It's extremely empowering for the women who are members of Impact100 of Northwest Florida because we could individually give $1,000 to a single nonprofit organization of our choice in the two counties, and yes, we could do some good. However, if I put my $1,000 with the $1,000 of 99 other women and give that to an organization, it's transformational," she said.

"They can do things that they would never ordinarily be able to do. They're not using the money for operations. They're not using the money for existing salaries. They're using it for those 'We wish we could' types of projects that, as I said, transform their organization and take it to a place where they can reach more people, serve more people, support more people or support more of our environment."

At its annual meeting Sunday, Impact100 NWF members viewed video presentations from each of the grant finalists and voted for this year's recipients, picking four winners from among five eligible project categories of Arts & Culture; Education; Environment, Recreation and Preservation; Family; and Health and Wellness.

Here are the winners and what their grants will help fund:

EDUCATION 

United for a Good Cause will use its funding to expand the Hope Squad Peer-to-Peer Suicide Prevention Program.

Impact100 Northwest Florida presents a check to United for a Good Cause, a organization whose goal is to have a Hope Squad Peer-to-Peer Suicide Prevention Program in every schoo from Escambia to Walton Counties.

According to the organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth 10-18. There were 36 youth suicides among youth ages 10-24 in Okaloosa and Walton counties between 2015-2019.

In describing the benefits of the Hope Squad, United for a Good Cause wrote, "When we save a child from death by suicide, we’re saving that child’s family, friends and surrounding community from a lifetime of grief and heartache. This is long-term sustainability. The program literally changes the culture of the school to one of kindness and connectedness over time with constant messages of hope and love being spread."

More about Hope Squad:Okaloosa County suicide prevention 'Hope Squads' recognized for their important work

The Impact100 grant will help the organization cover the investment into the curriculum fees and advisor certification training in every middle and high school not already funded, and in every elementary school in both counties — about 30 schools.

ENVIRONMENT, RECREATION & PRESERVATION

The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society will use its grant funding to reopen the only low-cost animal clinic in Okaloosa and Walton counties to provide diagnostics and surgery for injured animals and to reduce the unwanted/unhealthy animal populations.

Impact100 Northwest Florida presents a check to the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society to help the organization reopen the only low-cost animal clinic in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

PAWS wrote that currently, citizens and rescued animals must travel to Panama City or Alabama for affordable spay or neuter surgeries, trips that are a drain on resources and stressful for animals.

The Impact100 grant will allow PAWS to purchase the necessary equipment to restore on-site medical access for abused/abandoned shelter animals, as well as to serve the public need for locally accessible and affordable vet care.

More about PAWS:New vet clinic coming to town! PAWS using donated land for low-cost spay and neuter facility

It's estimated the new clinic will allow PAWS to increase annual public surgeries from 200 to 30,000. That change would benefit low-income families who otherwise cannot afford veterinary care. It would also allow PAWS to maintain a reduced and healthier population shelter population, and decrease the backlog of animals that cannot be adopted out because they are awaiting surgery.

FAMILY

Fresh Start for Children and Families will use its grant funding to replace the organization's aging truck.

Impact100 Northwest Florida presents a check to Fresh Start, a housing and education program for families with children who are homeless.

Fresh Start is a housing/education program for families with children who are homeless. The organization's clients come from all walks of life, face many problems including abuse, divorce, generational poverty and more. The program provides participating families a furnished apartment, food pantry, weekly life skills classes, one-on-one budgeting and goal meetings.

In its grant request to Impact100, Fresh Start wrote, "Our current truck/trailer combo used for donation pickups and deliveries to our apartments is 18 years old, is in the shop often and must be unloaded multiple times per day. This project is to purchase a box truck with a lift which would increase our capacity."

The group says a dependable truck would save money on repairs and missed pickups, as well as allow Fresh Start to serve more people thanks to more dependable equipment.

"We will be making ourselves stronger, more self-sufficient, and more professional. Maintenance, insurance, gas and driver, all in operation. In fact, this truck will save us money, and be continue making an impact for us for the next 18 years if possible, like the one we are retiring."

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Sharing and Caring of Okaloosa County will put its grant funding toward expanding its facilities.

The organization's mission is to improve the health and independence of its clients by providing nutritious food, personal care items, and medicine vouchers. Sharing and Caring reported providing groceries to 5,897 clients, personal care items to 5,591 clients, and prescription vouchers to 324 clients in the past year alone.

Impact100 Northwest Florida presents a check to Sharing and Caring of Okaloosa Count to help fund an expansion of the organization's food pantry.

Related:What’s for dinner? - Eating when you can’t afford to eat

The Impact100 funding will allow Sharing and Caring to update its more than 30-year-old building. The organization plans to double its pantry space for food storage and cooling equipment, add a prescription interviewer room, increase the size of its reception lobby and make its entrance, walkways and client restroom more functional and ADA compliant.

"This facility expansion grant will provide space for greater client food variety," Sharing and Caring wrote. "Plus, we will expand our partnerships with Shelter House, Fresh Start and other agencies to synergize the local transformational movement. The key is working together."

Impact100 of Northwest Florida celebrates 10 years of giving

The mission of Impact100 of Northwest Florida, Inc. is to financially support nonprofit

organizations in Okaloosa and Walton Counties by empowering women as philanthropists and leaders, by bridging the geographic areas of our region, and by leveraging the talents of diverse women to be a positive force for good in our communities.

Since the creation of Impact100 Northwest Florida in 2012, the members have donated $3.6 million to local nonprofits.

Since the creation of Impact100 Northwest Florida in 2012, the organization has donated more than $3.6 million to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

It's an extremely meaningful endeavor for both the donors and the organizations, according to gillie gossom.

"I don't think any of the nonprofit grant recipients yesterday had many dry eyes among them," she said. "They were overwhelmed, overjoyed, relieved, happy."

She added that organizations that aren't selected as grant recipients still frequently benefit from the member's generosity.

"We asked them during our site visits for a wish list, a list of those items that they need and want to be able to better serve their clients," gillie gossom said. "After the annual meeting we post those wish lists on our website, and let me tell you, we have had members in the past who have anonymously stepped forward and filled almost all of the wish list items that the nonprofits have."

She also noted for people who want to help support local nonprofits, there are several ways to join or support Impact100. Information about Impact100 NWF and ways to join the organization is available at impactnwf.org.

"I'm very pleased that this year the board is finalizing a method so that women can make monthly payments toward their membership. So those women who may not be able to just write a $1,000 check, starting May 1 will be able to make monthly payments toward their 2023 membership."

Women under the age of 40 can also join the NextGen program, in which an existing member contributes half of the new member's $1.000 donation in the first year, and a quarter of it in the second year.

"Then by their third year, they've had an opportunity to either save or set themselves up so that they can make monthly payments become impacted members instead of NextGen members."

Lastly, people can make donations directly to Impact100 to help the organization fund its operations, because gillie gossom said 100% of member donations go to the grant recipients.

"We really appreciate and value the nonprofit organizations that serve our two-county area," she said. "They do the yeoman's work, we're just able to support them and help fund some of their dreams. Without them, there would be no need for an organization like ours, so the true heroes in the story, to me, are the nonprofit organizations."