Kiwanis Club of Skidaway members supported more than thirty area organizations in Chatham County in the last year with thousands of volunteer hours. Financial grants from the Club have totaled more than $1,300,000 since 1988. The vast majority of the Club’s efforts benefit disadvantaged and at-risk children.
Please review the summaries of some of the many worthy groups that would welcome your assistance.
Founded as an orphanage by George Whitfield in 1740, today’s Bethesda is a school (grades 1-12) and a haven for children who have many emotional and physical scars. It is located on a working farm on Ferguson Ave., five miles from The Landings. Volunteer opportunities come in many forms: tutoring, part time instruction, transportation and assistance with sports programs. The “Barn Builders” are almost entirely of Kiwanis members and handle construction and repair needs each Monday. Funds donated assist with athletic programs, a program called “Character Counts” and scholarships for deserving students with pressing needs. http://www.bethesdahomeforboys.org/
Chatham County Juvenile Court
The Chatham County Juvenile Court is charged with making the often gut-wrenching decisions that must be made concerning children who are the victims of neglect or abuse. Citizen Review Panels comprised of volunteers have been established to interview the children, their parents or foster parents, and the case workers, and to pass along their own recommendations to the Juvenile Court Judge, for his/her decision.
Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center
Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center’s mission is to make the system of help more humane and responsive to the needs of victimized children. CCAC works to coordinate services effectively so that those services genuinely serve the best interest of child victims. Communities in Schools of Savannah’s champions the needed community resources with schools to help kids learn, stay in school, graduate and prepare for life. http://www.ccac-savannah.org/
Early Childhood Education
The emphasis on Early Childhood Education (ECE) started in earnest about 20-30 years ago. This has occurred because of the realization of the demise of not only the “extended family”, but more recently the “nuclear family”. Increased divorce rate and birth of “out-of-wedlock” babies to young fathers and mothers with incomplete education, poor life skills and suboptimal financial status have flooded our kindergartens with ill-prepared children lacking vocabularies and development gaps that destine them to do poorly and fail to complete high school. Yet, society has not really digested the concept of education beginning at birth rather that upon entrance into kindergarten.
Correction of these trends is not easy to do. Developing an alternative education system to make up for a failed family fulfilling its early educational role is expensive and goes against the grain of society and the very families who are in trouble. Markedly improved child care services with extensive parent educational efforts are being tried successfully in various communities around the country, in order to re-establish the primacy of the “5 R’s” (reading, rhyming, routines, rewards and relationships) long before a child enters even the much-lauded (though of doubtful benefit, I feel) Pre-K classes.
Greenbriar began in 1949 as an orphanage for African-American children in the Savannah area. The doors are now open to children of all races. A private, non-profit agency whose mission is to provide services that promote healthy development of children and stronger families, Greenbriar operates 7 programs including a Group Home, Emergency Shelter, Homeless program, two independent living programs, and a Child Development Center. In addition, Project Safe Place focuses on prevention of child abuse and neglect, partnering with local businesses to provide 80 safe havens for children in need. Funds donated assist in covering general operations. http://www.greenbriarchildrenscenter.org/
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity promotes the building of modest, low cost homes designed to provide decent places to live for Savannah residents who do not presently enjoy this privilege. Much of the construction effort is provided by volunteer workers and even those with no previous experience of this type are encouraged to get involved. http://www.habitatsavannah.org/
Horizons is a national organization which promotes the potential of a diverse population of children from low-income families. Specifically, the Horizons National Student Program seeks to address the achievement difference between disadvantaged and advantaged students that develops in elementary and middle school due to learning gains and losses from “backsliding” during summer vacation breaks.
Horizons operates on the campus of the Savannah Country Day School with students selected from nearby Windsor Forest Elementary School and White Bluff Elementary School, providing a 6 week summer program enabling students to “stretch” their abilities and experience new challenges and relationships.
Beginning in 2007, a winter component was added to the program. One Saturday every month students will meet with the director, counselors, and assistant teachers throughout the school year. http://www.horizonssavannah.com/
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Coastal GA
The IHN of Coastal Georgia is an independent non-profit organization that works to alleviate homelessness for families with children by providing emergency shelter, meals and intensive support. The goal is to return these families to independent living within 30 to 45 days. IHN is one of more than 100 affiliates of Family Promise, the parent organization. Funds donated are used to partially pay for a Case Manager that was sorely needed. Currently, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is one of the host churches, and Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church serves as a support congregation, primarily assisting in providing meals. http://www.familypromise.org/
Junior Achievement uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with local businesses and educators, J.A. brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential. Kiwanis Club of Skidaway is a “whole” school sponsor for Hesse Elementary. All classroom materials needed to support the program are paid for by our annual donation. Some of our members volunteer as instructors for the programs as well. Excellence through ethics is stressed throughout the curriculum. http://georgia.ja.org
Kids Cafe is an after-school feeding program for children at-risk to go hungry. It is an adjunct of America’s Second Harvest, a national organization whose goal is to end hunger in the U.S. There are thirteen Kids’ Café sites in the inner city of Savannah, ensuring that children have a safe, nurturing place to go during the critical hours after school. Funds donated helped provide in excess of 200,000 meals for more than 840 at-risk children. Tutoring, homework assistance and cultural enrichment are other objectives the program is helping to meet. http://www.helpendhunger.org/
Kids Fishing Program
Kiwanis is in a partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia—Skidaway Island Chapter supporting the annual Kids Fishing Program. Each year, we support the Kids Fishing Derby Event, held on the last Saturday of May (rain day is Sunday) at The Kids Fishing Lagoon. We’re also tied-in with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Program to “Hook Kids on Fishing Not Drugs.” In 2013, 119 kids caught at least one fish, and kids caught 615 bluegills, the most since the program began. Nearly 2,000 kids have participated one the years. The Derby is open to kids ages 3-15 years who are Landing’s residents and their guests, and as our special guests, kids from the Salvation Army, Bethesda Academy, and Hunter Military Base are invited to join in the fun.
We believe our Kids Fishing Derby benefits the kids and our community. The kids learn a healthy outdoor activity, sportsmanship, spend quality time with adults and everyone has a great time. Each year many of our volunteers comment, “I had as much fun as the kids.”
In the past few years some 10-20 Kiwanis Club members volunteered as referees during the Derby. As referees, we help the kids record their catches and assist those needing help in landing and releasing the fish. 2013 was our 10th year of having an organized group of high-school students and adults participate as “Fishing Buddy/Coaches.” The Fishing Buddies enjoy giving back their love of fishing to younger kids who don’t have their own equipment or need a little extra help.
Kid’s Miracle Designs
KMD is a nonprofit program helping families receiving treatment for cancer and blood diseases at Memorial Hospital. KMD provides meal coupons, gas vouchers, gift baskets, educational literature, academic scholarships for patients, utility bill assistance, misc. medical supplies and much more.
This provided support is entirely dependent upon community gifts. The annual fund raiser is called Celebration of Hope and takes many volunteer workers and hours to stage this event. http://www.memorialhealth.com/kidshope/kmdjosiah.htm
The Library for the Blind
The Library for the Blind provides loaner books on tape and tape players for sight impaired people and dyslectic children in the local ten-county area. http://www.liveoakpl.org/about/library-for-the-blind-physical.php
The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire
The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire is a non-profit corporation that makes mediation services available to help parties that are involved in conflict arrive at amicable resolutions without the expense, acrimony or possible public exposure that would be involved with conventional litigation. http://www.mediationsavannah.com/
The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force
The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force provides educational programs for youth groups. Donations fund students for free admission and the exhibits teach the lessons of courage and patriotism. In 2004, 18,000 students from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina were bused to the Museum.
Notre Dame Academy
Notre Dame Academy provides students in the inner city area a quality education in a religious environment. The school strives to prepare students for the challenges of the future and to instill wholesome, Christian values that will enable them to become productive citizens of our country.
Park Place Outreach
Located across the street from Forsyth Park, the center pledges that it “will never turn a child away.” For nearly 25 years, it has offered emergency shelter to youth between the ages of 11 and 18 who, for various reasons, have no other place to go. The home provides shelter for up to 15 days, during which time the staff tries to help the young people sort out their problems. School attendance is encouraged, counseling is provided and health education is stressed. The families of the young people are contacted, and efforts are made to reunite the youth with their families. When this proves impossible, they may be referred to other agencies that can help with a more long-term solution. Funds donated are used to supplement basic operations and after school programs for the youths in residence.
Savannah Friends of Music
Savannah Friends of Music raises money throughout the year to provide scholarships for music lessons for youngsters, to support the Armstrong Atlantic Youth Orchestra, and to donate to local musical organizations such as the Savannah Children’s Choir, Savannah Philharmonic, Savannah Danse Theater, and others. Primary fund-raising activities conducted by Friends of Music include the Parties a la Carte series and a spring fashion show. www.savannahfriendsofmusic.org.
The purpose of the Social Apostolate is to care for the poor, the homeless, the disabled, children and the “at risk” of our society. Their Soup Kitchen served nearly 3000 meals to children last year and provided school supplies and school uniforms to more than 3500 children. Other services provided by the Social Apostolate include a Shower Program, a Behavioral Health and Women’s Clinic, and a Thrift Shop which provides usable clothing at low prices.
Provides year round sports training and athletic competition for children and young adults with mental retardation. Kiwanis Club of Skidaway is the primary financial support for Area 17 Special Olympics. Funds donated are used to support four events per year. Two are held in the summer (athletics), and two in the winter (bowling). Many members serve as volunteers at the events.
Youth Challenge Academy
The Georgia National Guard Youth Challenge Academy offers selected at-risk youth the opportunity to change their futures. The initial program consists of a 22 week commitment during which cadets learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility. Participants live and work in a controlled military environment while teamwork and personal growth are encouraged. Funds donated are used for items not allowed to be covered by their primary sources (Federal and State funds).