Service League cheers funding blitz for needy neighbors


At the closing luncheon of the John’s Island Community Service League, Karen Drury, outgoing president, thanked members for contributing their time, energy and dollars, adding, “More accurately, thank you for allowing us to fulfill our mission, which is to strive to improve the lives of the less fortunate women, children and families in Indian River County.”

The JICSL has again met that goal and then some.

“This year, the John’s Island Community Service League awarded $1,275,500 in regular grants,” said Michelle Julian, grant co-chair with Ellen Kendall, who oversaw 48 volunteers in an intensive and detailed grant process.

Additionally, JICSL awarded a record $90,000 in scholarships to John’s Island employees and their children and distributed another $141,500 in strategic grants.

“In total, we’re funding approximately $1.5 million for 50 different programs at 44 different agencies. This really is truly an amazing number, and it compares to $1,463,000 last year,” said Julian.

“One of the areas of particular focus for us these past two years, and going forward, has been mental health. Because of the dramatic increase in mental health issues in our community, particularly anxiety, depression and suicide, we have increased the number of agencies and programs we fund,” said Kendall.

Working with mental health agencies, they hope to find ways to address finding and retaining interns and mental health professionals, and expanding facilities to meet the growing caseloads.

Hope Woodhouse, Strategic Grants chair, said the Marlynn Scully Strategic Fund, which began with $500,000 in seed money from Marlynn and Bill Scully, is refilled annually and since 2017 has distributed $750,000. It complements the regular grant process by enabling start-ups, off-cycle requests and multi-agency collaborations.

Woodhouse explained that they work with agencies to determine needs and work with them to fill those gaps.

Examples include providing funding for the Cleveland Clinic Intensive Outpatient Program, a 12-week, five-day-a-week, mental health afterschool program to treat 13- to 17-year-olds, that has been so successful that it now includes 18- to-24-year-olds.

Another is a new Access to Justice initiative that will assist people filing legal documents for family law, small claims and landlord tenant issues, using kiosks at Self-Help Centers at the courthouse and United Against Poverty. It’s spearheaded by Kendall and Julian in collaboration with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and the United Way, with capital funding from the Johns Island Foundation.

“We have a couple of irons in the fire that I’m exceedingly excited about,” said Woodhouse, referencing a Substance Awareness treatment program for high school students to add to the prevention program.

Treasurer Karen Keating said money is amassed from a full slate of fundraising events, dues, donations and sponsorships, and the Tambourine Resale Shop, which netted more than $160,000. “Most of the work is accomplished by volunteers, who so enjoy working to help our neighbors in need,” said Keating.

Whimsical centerpieces had been crafted by “creative genius” Diane Feeley, who with Sue Ann Siegelbaum devised a comical “Day in the Life of Mr. & Mrs. John’s Island” fashion show featuring everything from bathrobes to a full-length wedding gown, all selected from the Tambourine Shop. JICSL board members also sported Tambourine clothing, complete with price tags.

“A word of warning: Don’t be surprised if you see your donated clothes, walk down that runway,” said Siegelbaum.

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Photos by Mary Schenkel

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