ORANGE PARK – Paul E. Reinhold used to share an age-old anecdote about how a man asked three construction workers what they were doing while working on a building.
The first man said, “I’m cutting stone,” the second man said, “I’m making a wage,” the third man said, “I’m making a cathedral,” which are for many, things of solace, beauty and warmth. On Tuesday, Clay Countians came together to celebrate what the Paul E. and Klare Reinhold Foundation honors each year as the local cathedral builders – nonprofit organizations that provide various services to the community. Seamark Ranch was awarded the $10,000 Paul E. Reinhold Outstanding Community Service Award at the event held at the Thrasher-Horne Conference Center at St. Johns River State College.
Seamark Executive Director Fred Meiners was not able to attend the breakfast Tuesday morning but said Wednesday that he was humbled with the honor.
“This is our 10th year and we’re looking at all our highlights and certainly for our 10th year celebration, this is going to be one of our highlights, absolutely,” Meiners said.
Meiners said it’s too soon to even think about how the Christian home for children will use the funds despite being in the midst of trying to build two new homes that would allow the ranch to double its capacity to 32 children.
“I’d say it’s a great great honor because there are so many other programs here that are doing great things. Clay County’s nonprofit sector is one of the strengths of our community and to be honored with that award is definitely humbling,” Meiners said.
In total, at the April 25 event, the Reinhold Foundation awarded $75,000 and 48 community service awards to nonprofit organizations that provide services to Clay County residents. The Foundation has awarded more than $615,000 to Celebrate Clay award recipients in the past nine years.
“You furthered your causes with the help of more than 12,000 volunteers, you collected $4million in in-kind donations, you secured $30 million in grants and contributions and you earned $2.4 million through fundraising efforts, and finally, you provided more than $333 million in direct program delivery to those you served. Together, you are the cathedral builders,” said Amy Parker, Reinhold Foundation executive director.
Long-time volunteer supporter André Van Heerden of the Clay SafetyNet Alliance was awarded the 2017 Peggy Bryan Volunteer of the Year Award, which carries with it a $5,000 prize. He said winning the award caught him off guard.
“The celebration here today just shows how ordinary, everyday individuals can have a huge impact and if that message got out to our community at large, and more people realized that they could make a difference, I think we’d have a lot more people doing these things,” Van Heerden said.
He said the nonprofits need a voice that would continually educate the community at large about the needs of Clay County. That voice, he said, would help generate more volunteers for local causes.
“Every person has a different passion for a different cause and that’s what makes it so beautiful. Some people have a passion for animals, some people have a passion for kids, some have a passion for seniors, some have a passion for disaster relief and that’s like a patchwork blanket with all those different little pieces and I think communication sews it all together or otherwise, we are all isolated in our silos,” Van Heerden said.
Peggy Payne, executive director of Quigley House, was as equally caught off-guard as Van Heerden when her name was announced as the winner of the 2017 Extraordinary Executive Director Award and another $5,000 prize.
“It takes a village to do what we do – it’s not just me. It’s the people that work with me, it’s this community that is committed to supporting organizations like ours,” Payne said, referring to the organization and the services it provides to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault each year.
Payne said the work of the nonprofits honored at the event are proof that charities enhance the quality of life in Clay County.
St. Johns River State College Campus Director Anna Lebesch, one of this year’s five judges, echoes Payne’s thoughts on the quality of life.
“I think what’s heartwarming is the fact that any of these organizations have been with the community a long time and they continue to serve and look for creative ways to expand those services and work with each other, so it’s a community within a community in many ways,” Lebesch said.
“I think Clay County has a wonderful quality of life and I think this demonstrates the heart of the community, a community that’s willing to take care of their own.”
Peggy Bryan and her brother Jack Myers originally launched Celebrate Clay as the Reinhold Community Service Awards some 23 years ago as a means of honoring their grandfather Paul E. Reinhold. Bryan said they wanted to honor his legacy of being a “go-getter” but not through “bricks and mortar.”
“This is a way to celebrate what we think is very unique. Clay County has an amazing depth of volunteerism and this is kind of a sprinkle effect. This way, we celebrate the beauty of all their work and community services and, the best part, is from this award program, initiating and going on, they’ve started networking moreso and so it’s a win-win,” Bryan said.
The Celebrate Clay awards are not grants that come with requirements to fulfill. The money awarded Tuesday simply allows the winning nonprofit to “celebrate what you do,” Bryan said.