Disaster Fund Depleted and Food Pantries are Empty, Please Help!

 

PLEASE HELP NOW as Families in Florida's most environmentally sensitive area suffer from a "Fisheries Failure" in Apalachicola Bay . The large number of seafood and tourism related workers have no other source of employment and struggle to survive.

September 2013 will mark one year since the collapse of the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay. Hundreds of displaced seafood workers and the collateral businesses which count on the seafood industry to survive continue to struggle in the multi county rural region that surrounds the Bay. In the last nine months, local and state political leaders, state agencies, non-profit organizations, churches and volunteers have supported the affected people of the region with job skill development initiatives, bay restoration projects, and empowerment programs that cushioned the economic blow. But those funding streams have come to an end and the region is in dire need of investment. On August 12, 2013 the Federal government recognized the fisheries failure officially with a declaration by the Department of Commerce, citing the impact of drought, freshwater flows  on the Apalachicola River and the devastation caused by saltwater predators which kill the oyster beds.  While the battle over water makes the headlines,  the people of the region are slipping into a deeper economic crisis.

Help is direly needed. At the beginning of the collapse, the displaced seafood workers themselves proclaimed they did not want a “Hand-Out”,  what they needed most was  a “Hand-Up”. The Coalition and our partners took that inspiration, received support from Volunteer Florida, and developed “A-Hand-Up Volunteer Assistance Program”. To date 52 displaced seafood workers have volunteered over 1155 hours to help the community as their contribution to solve the problems resulting from the oyster collapse, that is a total value of over $25,000 of honest volunteer work. A-Hand-Up has assisted 112 households and 484 people with utility, housing, medical and food expenses thanks to private donors. The Coalition supports engagement and empowerment of the affected population and does not support entitlements. Recipients volunteer in their community and support the assistance initiatives.

There are more success stories that show promise. While one in every four Franklin County residents (and one in every three children) live in poverty by Federal standards, our records show that almost 60% of the regions households are struggling with sustainability. But one person - one family at a time, change is taking place and over six hundred people have participated in job skill development initiatives, restoration projects and micro-business development which were products of efforts by the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida and many other businesses, churches, private donors and community volunteers. Almost a year into the crisis, the immediate outlook is bleak. The area requires economic investment and emergency job creation to engage the displaced workers until the restoration projects can be completed and have an effect on the productivity of the seafood industry.  We respectfully request support for the following projects and are willing to be active agents in any initiative which will reduce the impact of the bay collapse.

How you can help!

DONATE! Monetary donations will be used to support "A-Hand-Up", a volunteer engagement program supported by Volunteer Franklin, Volunteer Florida, Progress Energy, Catholic Charities, UF/IFAS Extension,  The Gulf Coast Workforce Board and the Department of Children and Families. We believe the most sustainable solutions to our community's challenges will be solved by involving the most affected individuals in the work we do. AND IT WORKS! Volunteers who are active in supporting our community are assisted with utility bills as they donate their time at their childrens' schools, in our food pantries, with our churches' outreach programs, and in our BAY AID Franklin efforts. If you would consider a financial donation to BAY AID Franklin, this is how your resources will be used.

Please send checks made to BAY AID Franklin, 192 14th Street, Apalachicola, Florida, 32320

If you would like to volunteer, please contact us at mail@franklinspromisecoalition.org or call 850-653-3930.