Big Hearts

arts anf crafts kits

         There is something very inspirational when you gather fourteen of the biggest hearts in Northwest Florida in one room. Every six months we gather the Executive Directors of each and every one of our charity partners together for a meeting. Whenever I encounter these brave, hardworking, selfless, intelligent people, I am humbled and everything is brought into perspective. One common revelation that each of them come to is the much bigger need than they set out to meet initially. Who would have thought that by making children peanut butter sandwiches to sustain them through the weekend, Tiffanie Shelton would meet them in a much darker place. The children that are hungry are also without clothes, and need health care, and tutors, and someone to listen and encourage them.

      In the four hours we have together during this meeting, we discuss many topics, one of them being needs. We talk about what needs each charity has to function, to get supplies from one place to another, to educate, to air condition, to build, to furnish, to babysit, to staff. Some of them need playgrounds, games, arts and crafts, ipads. Some need contractors to fix flooring and paint walls. Some need volunteers. As we went around the room, each Director humbly listed their needs. I jotted the needs down in case I came across any information on available space for rent or for sale to shelter the children who need somewhere safe to go, or a reliable van for sale, or a place to acquire computers for children with autism. As we went around the room, something remarkable happened. The charities all began to help one another. Habitat for Humanity of Walton County offered building supplies and furniture to Shelter House and Opportunity Inc who are both in new facilities. Emerald Coast Autism Center wants to create a computer lab for their students, but they don’t have computers. Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast were able to upgrade their computers and offered 40 used but in great condition, desktop computers to Emerald Coast Autism Center. Shelter House and Opportunity Inc. gave Pathways For Change several avenues for playground equipment. Pathways for Change suggested a great resource for tutors and mentors for AMI Kids. Over and over again I heard “I think I can help you with that,” or “talk to me after the meeting, I think I know someone who has what you need.” My heart melted. Organizations in need were meeting the needs of other organizations in need. 

      As it all came around full circle, it dawned on me.  While all of these charities depend on fundraising and sponsorships, and may not have much to give, they continue to help each other. They support one another. They volunteer for one another, give each other advice, and uplift each other.

There is something very inspirational when you gather fourteen of the biggest hearts in Northwest Florida in one room.

When you hear each mission and each fight against illness, hunger, homelessness, addiction, abuse…you can’t help but want to be a part of that fight. 


By: Jordan Lacenski

Published on Thursday, January 22, 2015