by Susan West, CIC Faith Community Committee
“I want to do a mission,” said Isabella Perez to her mother one day after watching the Joyce Meyer television show. “Maybe I could go to India or Honduras.”
“Okay,” replied Veronica Lowry-Perez of Santa Rosa Beach, “but why don’t we find something closer to home.”
Isabella is seven years old. And Mom has become accustomed to her desire to serve. “Every year,” said Veronica, “she looks for a project. She has always been very tender-hearted and loving. She wants to inspire people to do things to help others.”
The project decided upon was a bake sale. The mission Isabella chose was Children In Crisis, a non-profit charity of caring people working together to provide homes and establish hope to the abused, abandoned, and neglected children of our community. When asked why she chose CIC, the diminutive second-grader with long shiny hair and a bright smile quickly replied, “Because I love God.”
The bake sale was an easy decision, as cooking in the Perez household is an important part of family life. Christmas gifts this year were all home-baked and hand-made items. And as the plan unfolded, it became a family affair.
Ismael and Sara Perez, who retired from the Air Force in 1987 and settled their family in Fort Walton Beach, were no strangers to community service. Having helped with many charity events, they took up the torch and drew their friends and neighbors into their granddaughter’s mission project. Isabella created flyers on her computer and, with her mom, visited stores and businesses to request baked goods. Isabella herself spoke to the managers, and unsurprisingly, no one turned her down! The outpouring of donations was way beyond their expectations.
“Isabella is such an exceptional child,” said Pastor Dayna Schaumann, Children’s Minister at Good News United Methodist Church in Santa Rosa Beach. “She is always the first child willing to do or give whatever she can.” Pastor Schaumann became a part of the effort, too, as she spent a Saturday evening helping the family to individually wrap each donated item – until 2:30 A.M.! The following day the bake sale took place after the morning the worship service and was a huge success. And because there were more baked goods than people, the remaining items were welcomed Monday morning in the teachers’ lounge at Isabella’s school.
The teachers of Butler Elementary school were happy to tip the scales in donations to assist their dedicated student in her mission. As Butler School Counselor Vivian Green noted, “When you meet this tiny little girl, you know you are meeting someone special.” Green also commented on how involved the children are in CIC’s Change For Children campaign. “Every year the big jugs come in and the children love to watch their coins go into it.”
Isabella first heard about Children In Crisis through Change For Children at her school and also through her church which supports CIC. Pastor Larry Greene told her that she could help children right here in her own community. And she did just that. “She is a spirit-filled girl – and we are expecting great things from her. God is working in her life,” said Pastor Greene.
At the Good News United Methodist Church morning worship service, Isabella presented a check for $500 to Walt Maine, Chairman of CIC’s Faith Community Committee, becoming the youngest contributor to The Children’s Neighborhood. When asked how she felt about this accomplishment, she replied, “Tired – but good.”
And what does she want to be when she grows up? A missionary – what else!
Isabella would like to thank the following for their donations:
- Winn Dixie
- Mrs. Fields Cookies
- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Facatory
- Fresh Market
- Krispy Kreme
- Cake Masters Bakery
- Pascalli Foods
- Good News United Methodist Church
- Family and Friends
Children in Crisis has many volunteer opportunities for the faith community to help support The Children’s Neighborhood:
- Invite the children to your church services
- Create a foster care ministry
- Host birthday parties for the children
- Host special activities involving the children of your church
- Join the CIC Benefit Concert Series
- Take Love offerings to help feed, clothe, and care for the children
- Mentor and tutor children
- Provide hope and change lives
Over 400 Emerald Coast trendsetters and CIC supporters turned out to see the Destin Woman’s Club “Steppin’ Out With Style” Fall Luncheon and Fashion Show. The show was held on October 17th at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, and was the fifth year for the event. All proceeds benefit CIC and the Children’s Neighborhood.
The gala was a wonderful event thanks to the Fashion Show committee Chair Teri McCall and the Destin Woman’s Club membership. Thanks also to all the business sponsors and donors who made the show an unequaled success in every respect.
Photo L to R: Teri McCall, Committee Chair, Ken Hair, CIC Executive Director and Susan Polley, President, Destin Woman’s Club
Megan and Miranda from the internet children’s reality show, “The Megan and Miranda Show” recently visited the CIC Children’s Neighborhood. The children-centered show is featured on www.DreamingofDestin.com and is filled with interesting fun things for children.
The M&M Girlz also presented a check to Children in Crisis to join Kid’s Club. Ric Eddins, founder of the website and show, helped out with a donation of an electric motor scooter for the Neighborhood.
While visiting the Neighborhood, Megan and Miranda also gave the children CDs, DVDs, autographed photos and other memorabilia.
Thanks to great community support the 2nd Annual CIC Children’s Neighborhood Charity Golf Tournament raised an estimated $50,000 in contributions and in-kind donations of prizes, food, services, signs and support!
The tournament was held last week at the Ft. Walton Beach Golf Club and was presented by First Command Financial Services, a full service financial organization committed to helping families plan for and pursue financial success. Dooley Mack Constructors, builder for the next two homes in the Children’s Neighborhood, also joined as a major sponsor this year.
The golf tournament format was a best ball select shot and golfers competed for a wide array of wonderful prizes. Congratulations to the team of Mike Sapp, Mo Evans, Mark Ketchum and Jim Grabo, who won the event with a net score of 57. Bob Young won the closest to the pin prize, and Ann Svitanek won the longest drive contest.
Ken Hair, Executive Director, Children in Crisis, commented, “First Command’s support to the abused, neglected and abandoned children of our community for the second consecutive year is a true commitment of caring. First Command’s support and our other major sponsors, Dooley Mack Constructors, Impact Graphics Sign Co., Lesgo Personal Chef, Polyengineering, Chrysler and American Laser ensured the tournament would be a success. All proceeds from the tournament will help feed, clothe and care for the children of The Children’s Neighborhood.”
Hair continued, “There was a special live auction prize this year that really raised the excitement level of the golfers and participants. Goodyear donated a 30 minute ride for six on the Goodyear Blimp. Jackie Gillespie won the prize with a final bid of $3,000.”
According to Mack Gay, President, CIC Board of Directors, “This is a wonderful show of support to our kids living at the Children’s Neighborhood. I’d like to thanks the participants, sponsors, committee members, staff and the entire community for all they do for our at-risk children.”