2020 Grant Award Finalists

We are proud to announce the finalists for Gulf Breeze Will Do’s 2020 grant cycle. Due to COVID-19 precautions, we will not be meeting in person this year. Voting will be done by mail-in ballot. Please review the videos below to assist in making your selections for voting.

Art, Recreation & Sports Finalists

• Covering the Kids and Kritters – A Mardi Gras Tent – Grant request $1,479.25

Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras, Inc. hosts the Kids and Kritters Parade, a walking procession for people and pets. The parade is unique to Pensacola Beach offering children and animal‐lovers their very own Mardi Gras parade. The Kids and Kritters Parade, which has been hosted for more than ten years, is presented in a safe and controlled environment, suitable for all ages and abilities.

“Covering the Kids and Kritters – A Mardi Gras Tent” is a request to fund a unique six‐sided pavilion tent, custom imprinted to provide a protected registration and information area. The colorful pavilion tent will feature a whimsical Mardi Gras jester creating a sense of place and showcase the event’s branding. The high visibility of the tent adds credibility to the event space and a level of professional polish, plus it amps up the fun factor.

In considering our request, please understand that this tent is so much more than just a frame with a top. It will become an integral part of our community Mardi Gras parade that celebrates children, families and furry friends. It is worthy of your investment.

• GBHS Swim & Dive Timing, Scoring and Start System – Grant request $6,940.90

The Gulf Breeze Swim and Dive Team has been one of the best teams in the district for many years running and in order to maintain that high level of success, their equipment needs to be updated. The team currently does not have a scoreboard, a starter or an electronic timing system. They solely rely on manual stopwatches and volunteers to run the swim meets. Additionally, GBHS hosts the Santa Rosa County Championship meet at Cecil Hunter pool in Pensacola, the only championship meet that does not have a professional timing and scoring system. Current swimmer donations are used to cover Cecil Hunter pool rental and associated operational expenses and do not leave any excess for purchasing much-needed timing, starting and scoring system equipment. This request will be used to offset these essential equipment costs and keep swimmer donations reasonable for families to afford.

• Jump into F.U.N. – Grant request $2,962.50

Jump into F.U.N. is a recreation, health, fitness and nature initiative (created by elementary school teacher, Dashean Ray Chavez) designed for students, teachers, parents, and family members too!

F.U.N. is an acronym for FITNESS & UNITY in NATURE.

Jump into F.U.N. is a jump rope initiative used during the COVID-19 pandemic at elementary schools targeting students to get involved with fitness, unity and nature by jumping rope and/or helping encourage others to play jump rope games. With limited organized outdoor activities at brick and mortar schools and at homes across the nation, Jump into F.U.N. is a perfect way to help educate students in the importance of social distancing within a fun-natured recreational environment. Jump into F.U.N. is designed for all students, physically-challenged students can also get involved. For example, students who cannot jump rope can choose a number of Jump into F.U.N. activities, for example, counting jumps of a classmate. These blending activities build Unity, and students will have more reason to go outside in Nature. Jump into F.U.N. is for everyone!

Education Finalists

• Expanding Employment Services in Santa Rosa County – Grant request $9,991.20

The Arc Gateway has operated Employment Services for over 25 years. The program has seen impressive growth with many successful employment placements under the direction of Jeff Weikert—in just two years, 35 people have been placed and successfully employed in competitive jobs for over one year. Under Jeff’s direction, this project will expand Arc Gateway’s employment services program from Escambia County to Santa Rosa County. The proposal is to fund employment coaching services for three employees for one year based on criteria from both the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The staff will have office space at our south Santa Rosa County adult day training program located at 5668 Gulf Breeze Parkway Unit B-8, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563.

• GBES Saves a Life Program – Grant request $3,061.50

As a physical education teacher and CPR/AED trainer at Gulf Breeze Elementary School, I have trained and recertified over 150 staff members in the past 5 years in CPR/AED, first aid, and choking safety measures. Last year, I began training our 4th and 5th grade students in these lifesaving tactics during their PE classes. Currently our school does not own manikins, so we must borrow training packs from the county. This grant would be used to purchase 20 CPR manikins, two AED trainers, and one portable PA system. These items would allow me to increase the amount of trainings made available to staff. Why stop at the adults when we have the opportunity to fully implement a curriculum unit centered on CPR/AED, first aid, and choking safety measures in our school’s 4th and 5th grade physical education program. Having a full set of manikins would allow me to work with groups of 40 students at a time and would total nearly 300 students each year. The hands-on experiences made available with the addition of these materials will deepen their understanding and provide each student and staff members with a set of skills that could potentially save lives in the future.

• “Let’s Taco ‘Bout It Over Lunch” – Grant request $10,000.00

Lunch time is more than a break away from academics, it’s an essential time of the day for the students to unwind, socialize with others and relax. It is during lunch that students “reenergize” for the second half of the school day, they develop oral language skills, they make new friends, and they learn the value of responsibility.

At Pensacola Beach Elementary School, we recognize that crucial time of the day and in order to provide the best lunch experience for our students we are in need of picnic tables. Currently we have wooden picnic tables that need to be replaced. Due to the weather conditions and passing of time, our picnic tables need to be replaced with those made of a different, more durable material.

We are asking for a grant to replace our worn-out picnic tables with composite picnic tables. At PBES we value our small business owners and want to do our part to help them succeed during this difficult time. We intend to support local businesses by purchasing from a company in Navarre – The Patio Specialist.

Hardship Support Services Finalists

• Take Stock in Children – Grant request $7,961.50

Take Stock in Children (TSIC) is a state-wide organization founded in 1995 in response to the need for a program that provides more than financial assistance to our economically disadvantaged, college bound students. We operate locally under the Santa Rosa Education Foundation and offer a unique opportunity for low-income, at-risk students to escape the cycle of poverty through education. Students selected from across the county, to include Gulf Breeze, receive a caring volunteer mentor, student advocacy, one-on-one college and career readiness, as well as a college scholarship. Our comprehensive program provides incentives and resources to help underserved students stay in school, earn a high school diploma, graduate from college and enter the workforce. Services start in grades 6-9, continue through high school, and include post-secondary retention and completion services.

The 113 students currently in our program signed performance contracts agreeing to earn good grades, exhibit positive behavior, and remain drug and crime free. If all program requirements are met, students receive 4 years of college tuition. 100% of funds raised within Santa Rosa County are equally matched with state funds to purchase a 4-year Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan to sponsor a child for participation in our program.

• Gulf Breeze Weekend Food Program Support – Grant request $5,000.00

The Weekend Food Program was started in the spring of 2010 at the Gulf Breeze Presbyterian Church to address the problem of hunger and poor nutrition over the weekend for children from families who receive free lunches in South Santa Rosa County. The program has grown over the years in student participation as well as community involvement with volunteers from a consortium of Gulf Breeze civic organizations, individuals and churches actively supporting the program. All five public schools in the 32561 and 32563 zip codes participate in the program with averaging over 100 students per week./

Public Safety Finalists

• AEDs Save Lives – Grant request $5,705.00

This grant request is to purchase five Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs). An AED will be placed in each one of our four staff vehicles, and fire SUVs. And the 5th will be on our boat used during water rescues.

• Search and Rescue Equipment – Grant request $9,932.48

Gulf Breeze Fire Rescue is often called for assistance during foul weather events such as floods and hurricanes. These situations require the fire department to be well equipped and well trained for the handling of complex, extraordinary rescue situations. We are requesting funding for: one small inflatable rescue boat, twenty life jackets, eight bags of water rescue rope, twenty-one hard hats for police officers (non-tactical), and ten water rescue helmets.

During these situations members of both the police department and fire department work hand-in-hand to complete complicated and dangerous rescues. Therefore, members of both agencies are required to have the best equipment possible. The equipment provided by this grant will be placed immediately in-service and will be maintained by the fire department.

Environment Finalists

• Escambia County Sea Turtle Conservation Program Strategic Education & Outreach Program – Grant request $3,387.23

The Escambia County Sea Turtle Conservation program is responsible for conducting daily marine turtle patrols along 12 miles of beaches on both Santa Rosa Island and Perdido Key. In addition to a dedicated team of patrol volunteers who conduct daily surveys the Sea Turtle Conservation Program launched the Sea Turtle Ambassador Program (STAM) in 2020.

The Escambia County Sea Turtle Ambassador program is designed to help educate and engage residents, visitors, and business of Escambia County in sea turtle conservation. The program has three focus areas: Leave No Trace, Lights Out and Hooked Turtle Response.

The 2020 nesting season served as the STAM’s “pilot” year. Through the course of the spring and summer, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that cohesive, unified messaging would be imperative to the continued success of the program.

Escambia County’s Sea Turtle Conservation program is seeking funding to develop signage and outreach materials to assist in engaging residents, visitors, and businesses in sea turtle conservation. Materials will use the same messaging and design elements to create a clear “brand” association with the Escambia County Sea Turtle Conservation program.

• Stash the Path Trash – Grant request $4,922.88

The long-awaited Pensacola Bay Bridge multi-use path is an amazing addition for our walking, biking and running community. To keep trash at a minimum, let’s install a solar trash compactor on the Gulf Breeze side of the new path. The trash compactor has 150 gallons of capacity, total containment to keep pests out, and a communication system to notify when it needs to be collected. According to Skanska: trash receptacles aren’t an issue for consideration in the design and/or construction phases of a bridge. Those matters are addressed at the conclusion of a project by the maintaining agencies. We don’t want or need more trash in Gulf Breeze proper or going into Pensacola Bay. Placing a solar trash compactor at the Gulf Breeze end of the path is smart and proactive with least additional maintenance stress to the City of Gulf Breeze. And, until both spans are in place, this compactor will be available to two-way traffic, ensuring riders and walkers outbound from Gulf Breeze will have the opportunity to properly dispose of their trash until the full bridge is complete at a future date.