Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Church Awarding $337,500 to Charity Southeast Georgia Agencies Benefit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Church Awarding $337,500 to Charity Southeast Georgia Agencies Benefit

Article excerpt

Byline: Gordon Jackson, Times-Union staff writer

ST. MARYS -- A non-profit foundation established last year with one of the largest single donations ever to an American church is starting to impact charitable organizations in Southeast Georgia.

The St. Marys United Methodist Church Foundation is awarding $337,500 this month to 11 charitable organizations, nine of which provide services to Southeast Georgia residents.

The contributions will help victims of child abuse, sexual assaults and domestic violence, support tutoring programs, provide legal assistance to low-income residents, create a prison ministry and support Salvation Army chapters in Glynn and Camden counties.

Jeff Barker, president of the foundation, said the board of directors considered 52 requests that met the criteria before deciding on the final group of recipients.

"Trying to narrow it down can be a difficult process," Barker said.

Some of the worthy charitable organizations that weren't awarded grants will be encouraged to submit another application, Barker said.

Phyllis Holmen, executive director of the Georgia Legal Services Program, said she was thrilled her organization was awarded a grant to help provide free legal help to low-income people in Camden, Glynn, Charlton and Brantley counties.

"We're going to do our best to live up to [the foundation's] expectations and dreams," Holmen said. "It's always exciting to get a letter [from the foundation] like this. We will be able to reach more people, help more people."

The legal services program will use the money to hire a paralegal staff member, Holmen said.

Belinda Jones, executive director of the Golden Isles Children's Center, said the $50,000 awarded to her organization will help establish a satellite office in Camden County.

"We are just extremely pleased," Jones said. "The foundation realizes our children are in crisis."

The foundation was created in January 2001, months after the church learned it was left 49 percent of Camden Telephone Co. stock from the estate of businessman Warren Bailey.

After months of wrestling with how to spend the money, the church's congregation decided to establish a non-profit foundation that would distribute the bulk of the money to charitable causes in Camden, Glynn, Charlton and Brantley counties, along with helping to support international evangelism and missions programs.

The programs eligible for consideration must promote the spiritual, mental and/or physical well-being of children, adults and families in the region. Funding for research, treatment or care in the fields of health, mental health and mental retardation are also eligible for consideration.

Barker said the foundation has no set rule about how much money will be distributed from the $42 million available. …

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