What Is Shaping Clay?


      Doug Greenberg and Samantha Bane

Shaping Clay is a community-building network focused on making Clay County, Florida a better place to live, work, learn, and play.

During 2016 we are poised to venture into some new territory. We want to explore how our nonprofits can collaborate with a variety of other stakeholders in Clay County. Some of these other groups / topics previously identified during our 2015 meetings include: Libraries, Agriculture, Emergency Planning, Education, Legislators, Government, Speaker’s Bureau, Storytelling, Volunteer Directory, Event Directory, and Resource Directory.

We meet the last Friday of each month. Check back on the website to find out the next meeting’s topic, confirm our meeting location or scroll down to review notes from our previous meetings.

Also feel free to contact one of us with questions or suggestions relative to past or upcoming meetings.

Peace and Joy  

From your Shaping Clay Team 

Karen Wintress          Samantha Bane             Doug Greenberg
609-933-2666           904-881-6697                904-272-5988



Sept 2016 Meeting Notes – Disaster Preparation w/ EOC

Note: Oct Meeting is the 20th at the Salvation Army, Middleburg

Find us at 2795 County Rd 220, Middleburg. It will be a combined meeting with the Clay SafetyNet Alliance to recap lessons learned after Matthew and steps we can take to prepare for or recover from other events. Start networking at 9:30, the meeting is from 10:00 to 11:30.  

Sept 30 Meeting Notes: We had 4 guests join us to share their insights and answer our questions about emergency preparedness. Our guests were John Ward and Matthew Smith from the Emergency Operations Center, Jeff Eadis from the Sheriff’s Department, and Leigh Wilsey from the Florida Department of Health / Clay.

img_7639adjJohn started with the worst problem he faces is complacency. Which honestly was supported by the attendance at the meeting.

People don’t think it’s really going to happen. Or they think there is only threat of an emergency during the hurricane (rain with a name) season. Other topics discussed included:

When we close schools in the county it has a huge ripple effect, and not just to the schools.

How do we get people to stay off the roads during an event to avoid falling trees and downed power lines?

In high winds there is an impact on our Clay Transit vehicles.

ESF15 connects volunteers with those requesting assistance after an event. What is appropriate to donate?

Some are not aware that registry for those with special needs includes anyone who needs assistance in evacuating. For example, those that are wheel-chair bound and not just those needing power for medical equipment or medications. For example, this could be important in a wildfire event.

Individuals and businesses should sign up for Alert Clay County. Here’s the link http://www.claycountygov.com/departments/emergency-management/alert-clay-county

St. Johns County has a tracking system for those who wander – autistic and Alzheimer individuals. It was suggested that we look into a similar system.

img_7634adjGet the word out about emergency preparedness in packets for individuals in government subsidized housing.

One of our EOC’s most active emergency volunteer groups is for pets.

The Department of Health communicates about topics such as mosquito control before it becomes a problem.

All companies should insist that each employee have a plan for their family. How do family members get in touch with each other? Phone cell service can go down.

Does your child have a ‘safety word’ in case you need to send someone to the house to give them a message?

After an emergency it’s important to replenish our county blood bank and food panty supplies.

Every home should have a battery-operated weather radio.

The ‘Touch A Truck’ Event was a huge success. John plans to work with the Orange Park Mall (Sears) to expand the amount of space for trucks. Organizations with emergency preparation or health messages should participate.

Educational seminars don’t always have to be with adults. An example is when First Responders spend time with young children. Messages from children and young adults are taken home to their families.

The Shaping Clay October Meeting will be October 20 at the Salvation Army (2795 County Rd 220, Middleburg). It will be a combined meeting with the Clay SafetyNet Alliance to recap lessons learned after Matthew and steps we can take to prepare for or recover from other events. Start networking at 9:30, the meeting is from 10:00 to 11:30.  


Sept 2016 Meeting Invite – Disaster Preparation Part 2

Come join us at our Shaping Clay meeting on September 30 so that we can continue our discussion started last month on disaster planning. While some may find this discussion a ‘downer’, 40% of businesses / organizations that are affected by a disaster never reopen. Now that’s a real ‘downer’.

Have you completed your Business Disaster Plan? If you need a place to start, go to www.flgetaplan.com and select Business. After entering contact information for your business you will be asked to:

  • Provide important business contacts including utilities, suppliers, employees, and clients
  • Provide information for alternate locations for your business in the event you need to relocate
  • Create a list of important records, documents, and software your business needs to operate

When you print out your plan it will include the sections you entered plus checklists for:

  • Disaster supply kit and checklist
  • Property protection checklist
  • Business recovery checklist

Here are a few examples of things you may not have already considered:

  • Do you have all the information suggested above accessible in one place whether it is in a binder or in a cloud so that you could recover from a disaster?
  • How would you communicate with your employees before and after a disaster?
  • If you are in leased space, do you know how to shut off water and gas in the event of an emergency?
  • Have you reviewed your insurance policies recently with your agent to make sure that you have adequate coverage? What will you need to provide the insurer to document a loss? Do you have photographs of your business which would serve as the ‘before’ for your insurance company?
  • What are your plans for recovery of your operations if your building is destroyed?

The Disaster Handbook published by the University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is another great resource for disaster preparedness. Follow this link http://disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/  and you’ll find a vast array of information to read and print out, web resources, and other products such as videos. Click on the words Master Guide to get started. As you read some of the tips and they refer to households, just replace with the word business.

Someone found a list of agencies to contact in the event of a disaster created by the University of Florida IFAS, http://stjohns.ifas.ufl.edu/hurricane_disaster_contact.shtml which is available through the St. Johns County website. The state of Florida has a disaster preparation website which also has a lot of helpful information at http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp Should links to sites like these be available right from the Clay County Emergency Management webpage?

If you don’t have a disaster plan this is a great opportunity to learn from those who do have a plan and are glad that they do. And who better to learn from than John Ward, Deputy Director of Clay County Emergency Operations Center. He will be with us (unless he is heading up an emergency response) and joined by people from the Sheriff’s Office and Health Department to share valuable tips and answer our questions. Andre Van Heerden will be with us to share how the ESF 15 Volunteer Response Team at the Emergency Operation Center works.  Everyone is invited to join in this session, so see you September 30, at 8:30 at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg.

P.S. Did you know that CodeRed has been replaced by AlertClayCounty? Have you signed up for the new alert system?

Aug 2016 Meeting Notes – Disaster Preparation

We had a great discussion at our August 26 meeting about disaster preparation. John Ward was going to be with us to share valuable information about the Clay County Emergency Operations Center and how we should prepare for emergencies. John called me the night before the meeting saying that he was unable to join us. While Shaping Clay was meeting Friday morning, the Emergency Operations Center was leading a team of volunteers out looking for a missing gentleman in the Jennings State Forest.

Days later we were hit by Hurricane Hermine which resulted in activation of our Emergency Operations Center. As the storm approached teams were briefed regularly about progress of the hurricane via conference calls. The center was mobilized and teams were called to be onsite overnight to prepare for our emergency response. Based on John’s week, we found out that our county needs to be ready to respond to a variety of emergencies, not just hurricanes. This view was definitely reinforced at our Shaping Clay meeting discussion.

Tiffany from the PACE Center For Girls let us know that after her organization developed their emergency response plan, they convened a meeting at their site to review the Plan. Meeting attendees included John Ward (Emergency Operations Center), Bruce Harvin (Coordinator of Operations Safety and Security for the Clay County Schools), the Fire Marshall, and someone from the Sheriff’s office. Feedback from the group gave PACE some specific actions that they could implement and add to their plan.

Even with all the work PACE did on their Plan, they encountered a situation that was very unnerving. Last year during the Green Cove Springs active shooting incident, they were not informed at the beginning of the incident. They almost put girls on a bus that was going to drop them off in Green Cove Springs in the area that was on lockdown. We discussed the possibility that other organizations such as charter and independent schools may also not be in the communication network.

This lead to comments by Allie from Big Brothers / Big Sisters. She asked how do we get the word out about an impending disaster to people who don’t have access to TV or the Internet; and she knows that this is not a hypothetical situation. She recommended that we make sure that our communication network includes text messages to people without TV and Internet. Another observation was that sometimes the leaders of an organization have received a communication, but may not have effectively and efficiently communicated the message to people within their organization such as employees and clients.

Patricia from the Florida Department of Health / Clay County reinforced what Allie shared with us. Outside the Department of Health building in Green Cove Springs during the active shooter lockdown, people were walking around. They had not heard what was going on. How do we let people know what’s going on? Jose, also from the Department of Health raised the issue of what happens when a physical building is affected? Who gets it and out of the building? He was surprised that during the lockdown some people were sent out of the Department of Health building. Also employees who were coming in from lunch or a meeting weren’t allowed in. What are they supposed to do?

Ron from the Florida Youth Challenge Academy which is based at Camp Blanding gave us an overview of the program. At-risk youth are lead, trained, and mentored through a highly disciplined and motivational environment. The students volunteer to participate in the program. They spend the first 5 1/2 months at Camp Blanding taking classes. The balance of the program is 12 months, where they return home and work with a mentor.  We wondered if this program could be tied more closely into emergency preparation.

Mo from United Healthcare attended to find out how other organizations are dealing with emergency preparation and consider if there are any roles that his organization could play that they don’t already.

Vicky who has retired from the military is starting a business to teach CPR skills to individuals and organizations. She also teaches swimming and is active in the Striders group. There are probably a number of ways that Vicki can connect with groups to help them be prepared for an emergency.

Patty from Quigley House noted that while they have an Emergency Plan in place they too were not notified early on about the active shooter in Green Cove Springs. It seems that there are groups still in the ‘gray zone’ that are not in a direct communication network. She also brought up another emergency that many of us don’t think about. The Quigley House Shelter was hit by lightning which caused an electric outage and took out some of their equipment.

Doug from Clay Literacy raised the topic of personal safety. He has tutors who volunteer and are out in the community. He stresses to them the importance of meeting their students in a public place, not lending them money, and not letting them into your personal car. There were other topics that Doug thought should be covered to prepare for an emergency, such as how to deal with someone who is hostile.

Kyle wears two hats. He is with Community Hospice and is a member of the Orange Park Fire Rescue organization. His major concern is how do we get the word out – both in how to prepare for a disaster and how we should respond during and after a disaster.

Amy from the Reinhold Foundation is concerned about sustainability of organizations, especially the smaller nonprofits in the face of an emergency. What mechanisms are there to share information, to get the word out? How do we raise awareness that being prepared for an emergency is more than getting ready for a hurricane?

Karen from Shaping Clay noted that there may be a role for students (K – college) in preparing and distributing messages about emergency preparation to the community. For example, one grade at our elementary schools has an annual poster contest about the importance of spaying and neutering. Maybe another grade could create emergency preparation posters if they are not already going this. Multidisciplinary projects could involve students in our Career Academies using their language art, performing and visual arts, and business skills.

Some ideas that were floated during the meeting included:

Could we disseminate information about emergency preparation at Homeowners Association meetings?

Can we distribute information about how those of us with pets should prepare for an emergency? We could distribute appropriate information to vets, animal shelters, and pet stores. The Orange Park High School is the Clay shelter that accepts pets. People need to know what to bring with them and their pet. What pets are not allowed? What proof of immunizations need to presented? What other things need to be brought?

Can organizations such as the Department of Health and the Sheriff’s Office hold workshops for residents about emergency preparation?

There is still the open question of how do we communicate with those in our community who are most vulnerable. What is in the Section 8 package of materials? Could emergency preparation tips be added if not already there?

How can we get businesses more involved in the process? What role do our libraries play? We need to reach people where and how they hang out. Is communication being coordinated between our fantastic network of health providers – hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacies, etc.?

If you were with us at the meeting what would you have contributed?

Please join us at our next Shaping Clay meeting where we are going to take this discussion on emergency preparation to the next level. We need more organizations to participate in this discussion, so please plan to join us on September 30, 8:30 – 10:30 at Saint Vincent’s in Middleburg.

August 2016 – Are you prepared for an emergency?


Come join us August 26 at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Our focus is ‘Are you prepared for an emergency?’ John Ward from Clay County’s Emergency Operations Center will lead us in a discussion about emergency preparation. Are you personally prepared for an emergency such as a flood, fire, or hurricane? Can your organization withstand the impact when a disaster affects our community? If you or your organization are not totally prepared, then how can you assist your clients?

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Have you and your clients signed up for emergency notifications?
  • Where are the designated evacuation zones?
  • Where is the closest hurricane shelter? What provisions can be made for pets?
  • Does your organization have a disaster plan? If yes, please bring a copy to share. If not, what should a disaster plan include?
  • Are there opportunities for your organization to collaborate and share resources with another group to better respond in an emergency?

Our goals for the meeting is for everyone who already has a disaster readiness plan to share some of the key elements. For those that don’t have a plan to leave committed to creating one for your organization in the near term. We could also define what actions we can take to help our clients be prepared.

You may want to check out this website for information about Clay County Emergency Management before the meeting. Http://claycountygov.com/departments/emergency-management

Please help us get the word out about this meeting. We can only benefit from hearing from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and how they will respond in an emergency.  Feel free to invite those who you feel can contribute or benefit from this discussion. Of course if we are in the middle of an actual emergency, we will have to reschedule this meeting since John Ward will be running the Clay County Emergency Operations Center.

June 2016 – Going Forward

Shaping Clay May 27, 2016 Meeting

Our May meeting was scheduled at the beginning of a holiday weekend, so we decided rather than meet at St. Vincent’s, we’d send out 3 activities (a virtual meeting). The challenge is for everyone who attends Shaping Clay meetings to do these activities before our June 24th meeting. These should not take long, but be of benefit to your organization and others in the community. Here they are…

  • Go to the Reinhold Foundation website (http://reinhold.net/, find your directory listing and update it if necessary. Make sure that you review and update these items.

a). Name, email, phone number for primary contact person.

b). Short description (one or two sentences) of what your organization does, your mission.

c). Categories or keywords that people would use in searching for your organization.

d). Website address.

e). Address – both physical and mailing, if different.

  • Locate the list of 2016 Celebrate Clay award winners on the Reinhold Foundation website. Identify one of the award-winning organizations that you would benefit from knowing more about. Call them to congratulate them and schedule a one-on-one meeting. Find out more about what they do and if there are opportunities to collaborate. See if you can identify ways that your organization can be a 2017 Celebrate Clay award winner. Tips for a one-on-one meeting can be found at https://shapingclay.org/nonprofit-tools/
  • Check out the University of Florida IFAS Extension website: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ It is a treasure trove of publications and is largely unknown as a resource. Information could be used for curriculum, handouts for your clients, background for your website or Facebook page, etc. Topics include: agriculture, community development, environment, families and consumers, 4-H youth development, and lawn and garden. Everyone should be able to identify at least 2 resources that would be of benefit to your organization and share them with someone.

We’d love to hear your results at our next meeting.  We’ll further explore  how Maslow’s  Hierarchy fits into Clay County’s nonprofits.


Shaping Clay June 24, 2016 Meeting

Come join us at our June 24th meeting at St. Vincent’s from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Our focus will be Shaping Clay – Moving Forward. Shaping Clay has been evolving and based on a prior meeting we agreed to stay connected to, but not duplicate the work of the Clay SafetyNet Alliance (formerly called the Mercy Network). The Clay SafetyNet Alliance’s focus is on providing social service support for those with chronic or one-time needs in our community.

Shaping Clay’s goal is to connect and enhance the efforts of the nonprofits that provide enrichment support for the community. We are also focused on creating linkages between all nonprofits and other stakeholders such as libraries, schools, government agencies, legislators, for profit businesses, and the faith-based community.

At our June 24th meeting, we want to reflect on what’s been accomplished and where we should focus our efforts going forward. Then how do we prioritize what we want to accomplish before the end of the year and beyond.  Topics that have been mentioned at prior meetings that may be of interest include:

  • Create a profile of the impact that nonprofits have in Clay County and use it to meet with and seek support from our legislators.
  • Make widely available a directory of volunteer opportunities for those who want to volunteer. There are a couple directories already in place that we should review and potentially use, rather than reinvent the wheel.
  • Develop a speaker’s bureau that would provide visibility and education opportunities for our nonprofits to connect with the community.
  • Identify a way to solve the continuing challenge of ‘how do we get the word out?’ Where could a resource directory be created and maintained?
  • Get an update of how the councils which focus on select groups are doing and how can Shaping Clay help them advance – mental health, seniors, and veterans?

We need your input on June 24 to determine the focus for our remaining 2016 meetings. Your ‘hot button’ topic may not be on the above list, and we’d like to add it. The success of Shaping Clay is based on the collaborative ideas and efforts from all our nonprofits. We’d like everyone who attends to leave with some concrete suggestions about how we can share resources – volunteers, donations, office space, equipment, etc.  Also if we form teams to work on a couple of the prioritized efforts, each of us could select a team to join.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on June 24 at Saint Vincent’s at 8:30 a.m.

April 2016 – Agriculture in Clay County

Come join us for our April 29 meeting from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. Vincent’s in Middleburg. We scheduled this right after the Agricultural Fair to learn of any things that we could do to build upon on this great community event. We want to highlight organizations, resources, and best practices in getting food from the farm to the table, ways to eliminate food deserts and support our local growers, explore school and community gardens, and provide continuing support to our food banks.

We will have a roundtable discussion about the role and impact of agriculture in Clay County. We are reaching out to all stakeholders, some may regularly work together, others may never have actually sat down together. We want to explore what each organization does in this arena, any challenges that we face, and how through knowing about and supporting each other we can leverage our impact. Examples of groups that we’d like to see represented include: farmers, master gardeners, community / school gardens, 4-H, food (pantries, rescue, deserts), food curriculum (e.g. high school academies), the Clay Agricultural Fair, Amazing Grace Crop Maze, UF/IFAS Extension, the faith-based community, any others who’d like to join us, and of course regular Shaping Clay attendees.

Clay County will continue to grow as the Expressway is finished and new people and businesses move in. Are there things we should consider to support our farms and other agriculturally-related businesses? How do we reduce the amount of people who are hungry? Is there existing curriculum about nutrition and food options that could be shared more broadly so that we all can make healthier choices? What opportunities are there for young people (K-college) to learn more about our incredible agricultural resources? What role do the churches and other nonprofits have in this arena? For those who can’t attend, send information via email ahead of time to Karen Wintress kkwintress@yahoo.com, and we’ll share it with the group.
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