Breaking Good News: Nonprofit Highlights

Spreading good news about nonprofits, charity and goodwill in our community.

Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society announces 15th Annual Camp Buddy in Effingham County

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Courtesy of Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society

The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) is excited to host its 15th annual Camp Buddy summer camp for Effingham County, scheduled for June 10-13 at Blandford Elementary School and various locations in Rincon for community-based learning opportunities.

Camp Buddy is designed for children of all ages with Down syndrome, helping them retain their accomplishments and prepare for the upcoming school year. The curriculum, developed by special education teachers and therapists, aims to provide a comprehensive and engaging experience.

Elementary school children will attend morning sessions at Blandford Elementary, where they will receive one-on-one occupational, physical, and speech therapy. In addition, they will enjoy games, arts, and crafts with educational elements. The younger group will meet at Blandford Elementary from Monday through Thursday.

Middle school participants will also receive therapies while working on projects such as preparing bags for Backpack Buddies and teacher appreciation gifts. These activities aim to help them advance in challenging academic areas.

This year, older campers will begin their experience with an overnight stay on June 9, focusing on life skills and community service projects. High school campers will participate in afternoon sessions, engaging in activities like volunteering at local food and clothing pantries, and a grocery shopping trip to learn budgeting and healthy meal planning. They will also develop occupational and life skills by preparing meals in the kitchen. An overnight stay will further promote independent living skills. This group will also partake in fun physical activities within the community.

“Our 15th annual Camp Buddy is here! It offers an incredible opportunity for amazing individuals with Down syndrome or similar chromosomal abnormalities to receive essential physical, occupational, and speech therapies. By working closely with each camper, we aim to maintain the progress made during the school year and tackle specific academic challenges to prepare them for the upcoming school year,” said Camp Buddy director, Molly Marchese.

Throughout the camp, therapies are cleverly integrated into games and activities, promoting health, wellness, and community service among all campers.

To register for the Effingham County Camp Buddy, contact Molly Marchese at [email protected] or 912-213-9127.

Camp Buddy is sponsored by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, made possible through the generosity of the community, friends, and families of LDSS, and events such as the Buddy Walk and Night of Champions. For more information about LDSS, visit ldssga.org.


Healthy Savannah releases results of community feedback on healthy food access, physical activity opportunities and community resources at quarterly stakeholders meeting

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Courtesy of Healthy Savannah
Approximately 40 key stakeholders met to discuss the findings of Healthy Savannah’s 2023 community survey on May 22 at the organization’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Stakeholders’ meeting.


Healthy Savannah presented the results of its 2023 community survey, along with key findings in areas of physical activity, nutrition, breastfeeding, adult immunization/vaccination and communications at the organization’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Stakeholders’ meeting. Approximately 40 key stakeholders attended the event on May 22, representing organizations, governmental agencies and businesses dedicated to improving health equity.

“The stakeholders turned out for this event in big numbers because they care about the future of our community,” said Paula Kreissler, Healthy Savannah’s executive director.

Kreissler opened the meeting with a presentation on a national training program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) entitled “Leading the Charge for a Healthier Nation.”

“Many of the takeaways from this interactive, in-depth training and shared learning experience are high leverage and relevant to the key stakeholders and our future work,” said Kreissler. “The goal of this training is to enhance our stakeholders’ abilities to successfully implement their work to achieve maximum impact for health equity in our community.”

The Healthy Savannah team outlined aspects of the CDC program that foster supporting and building leadership in young people, developing cultural humility and/or cultural competency, and encouraging the importance of communication.

Healthy Savannah’s 2023 community survey findings were also presented at the meeting and revealed that a majority of respondents answering questions about physical activity indicated they would use bike or walking paths such as the Tide to Town urban trail system to get to work, school and shopping or for recreation.

This is 10 percent higher than last year’s responses and could be attributed to increased education about physical activity, programs like the weekly Healthy Walks and Active People Healthy Savannah, and infrastructure improvements such as bike lanes and sidewalks.

In the area of nutrition, fewer respondents used SNAP in 2023 than the year before (36% vs 48%) but more reported eating fresh fruit (51%) and vegetables (59%) daily over the previous year and more than half (53%) said those items were always available at their house. More than half also indicated that supportive breastfeeding policies (54%) and places to breastfeed (52%) are extremely important.

Regarding communication efforts, a majority wanted to learn about healthy living, health services, and policies from social media (42%) and email newsletters (38%). But many had not used available resource directories including 211 (64%), 311 (61%), and herohelpme.com (71%). Of those who had used the resources, fewer than 20 percent found any of them helpful, pointing to a need for expansion of awareness of those services.

The organization has gathered community feedback on healthy food and active living preferences, knowledge and behaviors for over 10 years.

During 2023, there were a total of 790 surveys completed. This was also the first year that the survey was offered in Spanish. Healthy Savannah staff and volunteers collected survey responses at a variety of events and locations throughout the year.

Healthy Savannah also presented landscape assessments compiled over the past six months relating to physical activity, adult immunization, breastfeeding and nutrition/food access in the Savannah area. Resources contributing to the landscape assessments included community feedback, governmental and community partners as well as observational data. The group discussed the impact of the Tide to Town Trail development on physical activity, the effectiveness of the Community Health Advocate program in increasing vaccine awareness and acceptance, the need for more lactation support in the workplace and whether food pantries and access points overlap consistently with community needs.

The stakeholders were also asked to brainstorm ideas for reaching new goals over the next three years and what their organizations could do to help achieve those goals.

Healthy Savannah works and collaborates with nearly 200 organizations across Savannah to complete big-picture policy, systems, and environmental change work. Healthy Savannah has created a true coalition through these partnerships, paving the way for meaningful work under the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant and developing connections among stakeholders. The organization’s ability to form partnerships with individuals and organizations dedicated to building a culture of health in Savannah has enabled Healthy Savannah to foster and sustain individual and united goals. The success of Healthy Savannah’s stakeholder engagement is evident in the relationships the organization has cultivated with its REACH partners and in relationships amongst the partners themselves. They have formed stronger connections, discovered new ways to work together, and used their unique strategies, resources, and funding streams to better serve the priority populations.

For more information, visit healthysavannah.org/about/partners/.

The program is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control’s Racial and Ethnic Approach to Community Health (REACH) grant. For more information and to view Healthy Savannah’s 2023 community survey report, email Paula Kreissler at [email protected].

Deep Center to Receive $155,000 Our Town and Grants for Arts Projects Awards from the National Endowment for the Arts

The organization has received the funding awards for ten years in a row to support creative placemaking youth programs

Deep Center is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for both a Grants for Arts Projects award of $55,000 and a $100,000 Our Town award. These grants will support Deep Center’s youth arts programming including The Young Author Project, Block by Block, SLAM and the Youth Action Research Team. In total, the NEA will award 1,135 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling more than $37 million as part of its second round of fiscal year 2024 grants. The Our Town grant is one of 68 grants nationwide, totaling $5 million, that the NEA has approved. These creative placemaking grants support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into local efforts to strengthen and authentically engage communities, center equity, advance artful lives, and lay the groundwork for long-term systems change.

“Youth programming like Deep Center’s exemplifies the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities—all through the arts,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “So many aspects of our communities such as cultural vitality, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, and the economy are advanced and improved through investments in art and design, and the National Endowment for the Arts is committed to ensuring people across the country benefit.”

“We are honored to receive National Endowment for the Arts funding for the 10th year,” said Executive Director, Dr. Holly Whitfield. “That NEA recognizes the power of youth art, storytelling and cultural expression in the Deep South speaks to the power our young people, staff, and teaching artists are all creating in real time. I could not be more proud of the work of this organization and how we continue this partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.”

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Savannah Newcomers Club announces 75th Diamond Jubilee and sponsorship opportunities

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Courtesy of Savannah Newcomers Club
Pictured are Connie Hiott and the store’s manager, Heather Hiott

Savannah Newcomers Club, a women-led 501(c)(7) organization dedicated to welcoming and engaging incoming women to Savannah, announces their 75th Diamond Jubilee. For the first time, sponsorships are open to public businesses for the 75th Diamond Jubilee that will be held on October 25, 2024 at The Salzburg Ballroom at Plant Riverside.

“Founded in 1949, Savannah Newcomers Club was organized by a small group of women who met in each other’s home, showcasing their hospitality, and opening their doors to those who recently moved to the area. These friendships are forged through activities that frequently introduce members to various businesses and organizations in Chatham County and the surrounding area. Celebrating our 75th year, we decided to offer sponsorships to any business in the community that needs exposure to over 600 members,” shares the Savannah Newcomers Club President Conni Hiott. “Our first check was from Capital Bee Company.”

Capital Bee Company’s Proprietor, Thomas Hinely shares, “We jumped at the chance to be a sponsor and presented a $1,100 check to Savannah Newcomers’ President, Connie Hiott. Capital Bee Company has long been a supporter of everything Savannah with more than 45 Savannah Based companies in our Broughton Street store and we wanted to welcome the 575 plus women that are new to the area.”

     

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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