Makin’ Waves

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Non-profits collaborate on unprecedented ‘ground game’

By Julie Sacco Porterfield

Julie Hurst

First, I want to wish Safe Water for Walton a happy 1st birthday—and say “thank you” for giving us your presents! My colleagues and I see some first birthdays in our community that are anything but happy. Like you, I never have the same day twice at work.

But I hope you never have my days.

Our team works hard for more “wins” than “losses.” We work in the realm of foster care placement, sexual abuse, termination of parental rights when warranted, trauma-informed care and childhood recovery, pet/trauma dog comfort, and thousands of judicial prosecutions.

Never has the team at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center been prouder about how we serve others than after the hurricane. We had an unprecedented “ground game” for regional families within and beyond our borders. Now, that’s ongoing through 2019, thanks to Safe Water for Walton. ECCAC serves Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Our “sister” non-profit to the east—Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center—serves 6 counties. Some have stark poverty data—even though both parents work! At least they worked before the devastation took out however they “made ends meet.” All 6 counties served by GCCAC were part of the “state of emergency” declaration. What if this had happened to ECCAC? What if Walton County had been in the eye of Michael, just 25 miles to the west?

ECCAC is excited that Safe Water for Walton is leading a specific effort to get families back in their homes with safe power, and hot, safe running water. For many families, this is the only thing keeping them in a tent on a lawn.

Our “POWER UP Our Hurricanes Families” campaign will change people’s lives.

Imagine: You have a generator for power (if you’re lucky), or, you’ve been living with 3 people to a bedroom in a friend’s house for 2 months. You just put $1000 of travel expenses on a credit card for an ER visit out of town, because hospitals aren’t fully operational yet. On a “good” day, you find time to leave a message with an electrician. Now do all that without power and just a cell phone. Please, we need your help. Even a $20 donation translates to something much bigger. ECCAC will benefit from the “POWER UP” campaign, too, receiving half of all donations. We already see a rise in demand for services we’ll need to plan for:

∙ The Walton County School District has jumped to over 10,000 students for the first time in its history.

∙ Hundreds of families have relocated to Walton County, perhaps permanently.

∙ Local law enforcement and caseworkers are helping support other counties in need. We get routine calls for help.

I’m often asked why children’s non-profits are constantly out there fundraising. Unfortunately, abuse or assault of our most vulnerable is a serious plague. We can’t predict case needs. We just know the trauma is real. Children abused today endure serious emotional trauma for decades, and their families are changed forever. We have to be there for them.

We serve more than 350 children in crisis a year just at our Walton County center. (That was before the hurricane.)

YOLO Board and NFL athlete Drew Brees gave a grant of $10,000 to Safe Water for Walton in recognition of hard work in immediate days after the hurricane. We were a direct beneficiary of that help, as was GCCAC!

Let’s ring in the New Year matching that $10,000 before the New Year—100% of your donations go directly to the GCCAC and ECCAC for several relief efforts. Just one lunch out. Or donate a week’s worth of lunches. We appreciate the “gift” of your consideration.

For more info: www.safewaterforwalton.org (or go to GoFundMe.com, search for Safe Water for Walton POWER UP.

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