Jenny Goad founded Palm Harbor Cares to help the community in whatever capacity was needed. Palm Harbor Cares is a nonprofit here in Palm Harbor that donates $10,000 every quarter to a different charity in need. To be selected, 3 charities pitch their project to the members who then select the one charity to receive the funds. Anyone can become a member and donate $100 dollars every quarter or donate just one time. Their goal is to always reach $10,000 every quarter to give to a charity in the local community. To learn more or become a Palm Harbor Cares member, visit their website below.
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Jenny Goad | Palm Harbor Cares
In this episode, we have another great guest with us. It’s Jenny Goad from Palm Harbor Cares. She is super passionate about nonprofit work and charity volunteering within the local community as well. That’s what attracted me to meeting Jenny and her organization, Palm Harbor Cares. They donate to a different charity every single quarter based on the needs within the community. It’s not just one type of an issue that they are donating to there. They are trying to tackle any issue that’s a need within the community. It’s a great idea and concept. We will dive into that more in our conversation. Let’s get into it.
Welcome, Jenny. I appreciate you spending some time with us and jumping on the show.
Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
I found you because of the Instagram page for Palm Harbor Cares. We started chatting on there a little bit and got connected that way. For those of us who don’t know what Palm Harbor Cares is, tell us a little bit about that.
Palm Harbor Cares is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We have a Giving Circle where 100 members get together quarterly. Each donates $100 for a $10,000 donation to a local nonprofit. At each meeting, we have three nonprofits present that our members vote for. The nonprofit with the most votes received a $10,000 Impact Award that night. We also have a grant match for that. That can give that nonprofit an additional $5,000 for potentially $15,000. We also have our Children Who Care, who do service projects. They did a toy drive. They have done over 800 cards to senior citizens at local assisted living facilities for our Senior Citizen Pen Pals Program.
We will be doing some food drives and clothing drives. We have an Earth Day event at Tropicana. We are going to be doing a bone marrow and stem cell registry matching event to try and find a match for a local eight-year-old, Kobe Washington. I don’t know if you have heard of him. He has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We are hoping to find him a bone marrow match. That’s one of the things we are doing with Children Who Care. We want to pick different needs and try to address those needs within the community. We also do some nonprofit mentoring and training.
You can do a wide range of things based on the needs of the community. Where did all those come from? You started Palm Harbor Cares, correct?
I started Palm Harbor Cares with my amazing leadership team. Our treasurer is Michelle Nadeau. Our secretary is Dr. Valeria Moore. Our 100 Who Care Chair is Ashley Gonnelli. Our Children Who Care Chair is Jen McLane. Our Businesses Who Care Chair is Leigh Ann Flores Sarantopoulos. Our Directors are Holly Tardif, Michelle Wirgha, Tara Cook, Glenne Wortham, and Jori Zarra.
I know a lot of these women through the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin volunteering together. I know the others from being friends over the years, preschool or school PTA-type stuff. I met them in the community. They are all the kind of show-up-and-do-things women. They are such a resource and they have been wonderful.
They have taken this idea and helped it to grow and be something beautiful. We had this common goal of being a support organization. We are a 501(c)(3) but our goal is to not keep anything for ourselves. We want to support other nonprofits and help them to grow. You see many of these smaller nonprofits who have a heart for service but need help with compliance and the administrative piece or maybe they need some support that another nonprofit can offer. If we can even connect to nonprofits that can help each other to do things bigger or better, that’s our goal. Our goal is to be this catalyst for change but to be the support organization that helps to meet whatever the needs are.
Let’s talk a little bit about helping other charities. Where does that come from? Why are you passionate about that as well?
I have been involved with several different nonprofits over the years. I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. I did Meals on Wheels for a while. I was a Sunday school teacher. I was a volunteer EMT way back in the day. With so many of these nonprofits, there’s a little bit of overlap. You get involved with one nonprofit and you meet others. You find out how there are all these little footprints all over the county left by these different organizations. You start to see how those tie in together. It’s such a beautiful thing.
From being exposed to these different organizations over the years, a need will pop up and you say, “I can help with that need, bring volunteers to this or help this organization apply for this grant.” These women who are on our leadership team are this amazing resource that has this wealth of knowledge, abilities, and contacts. They are able to help meet these needs. Where that came from is saying, “There’s this group of these powerhouse women who can get things done. Let’s put them to work for the community doing what they do best.”
Circling back to what you do with Palm Harbor Cares, you give to a charity every single quarter $10,000 with the additional grant there as well. How do you go about selecting the charities? Can they apply? How does that work?
Any nonprofit can apply. They do need to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. If they were some other classifications, we would have to review that because there are other types of nonprofits. Now, it will automatically be the 501(c)(3). They have to file for a 990. We would research and vet each nonprofit, check their GuideStar profile, check with the IRS, and make sure they are in good standing with the IRS.
Whatever program or project the charity will be pitching at the meeting would need to be in Northern Pinellas or at least 70% of funds would need to go toward that project here in Northern Pinellas County. Exceptions can be made but that will be on a case-by-case basis. The rule of thumb is a 501(c)(3) that’s going to be serving Northern Pinellas with the $10,000 funds and at least 70% of that would need to go towards that program or project. The rest could go towards other expenses for the organization but mission-related.
They go on there and apply. You narrow down the list to three. You are reviewing those three at the meeting and voting then.
I don’t have a vote. The rest of the leadership team has a vote. We receive the applications. The leadership team reviews those applications. Three are selected to present at the meeting and then our members decide.
From looking at your website before, anybody can be a member where they donate. Is it $100 every quarter?
You can be a member for a quarter or life. We have had members also who say, “Call me up if you don’t hit that $10,000. I will help chip in and get you there.” We have had a couple of Angel members who have been amazing to make sure we hit that number because they believe in what we are doing.
Is the goal to have 100 members or do you want to have more members? Do you want to grow that part of it?
We want everybody. If we do receive more than that $10,000 for that meeting, that will go to that nonprofit. We have members who have said, “We want to make sure you hit that number, so we guarantee that $10,000 if we can.” We had it plus the $5,000 grant match that we were approved for different nonprofits. If somebody said, “I want to chip in this one time and I’m going to give you $50,000,” that’s going straight to that nonprofit. Congratulations. Your project is getting big now.
It seems like your whole life you had this giving mindset. You were involved in a lot of different charities and volunteered in nonprofits. Where does that come from?
It’s from my mom. She was always big into giving back. She grew up in and out of the foster care system. She needed help at times. There were some wonderful organizations that helped her like The Salvation Army, for instance. She had started a small nonprofit back in Roanoke, Virginia, where we were getting clothing, shoes, and school supplies to high school kids who were dropping out because they didn’t have the things they needed. Once you don’t have shoes to wear anymore, you can’t go to school. She always gave back.
We had a choice to get a job or volunteer when we hit sixteen. I did both. I became a volunteer EMT because you can do that in Virginia at sixteen. I also taught Sunday school. I did Meals on Wheels and some other things. We were raised that it’s a part of what you do. You give back, build your community and work to live. Our family has this commitment with my husband and children. We, as a family, have committed to helping to build a better community in any way that we can. It’s something that we do. It’s important to teach your children that.
It’s important for them to see that example and not to apologize for taking the time to do that. Instead, when you volunteer and give back, brag to your children. Tell them why you did the things you did. Bring them along. My kids have come to all sorts of things. They helped pack bags and picked things out. Let’s say we find out about a child in need. They are so happy to do the shopping and pick out toys. They love giving back. We try to create opportunities through Palm Harbor Cares for Children Who Care so that they can be those future philanthropists and givers for life.
If we can connect nonprofits that can help each other, they can do things bigger or better.
I want to talk about some things that you have learned either through your time volunteering throughout your life or through Palm Harbor Cares. What have been some valuable lessons or something that you have learned since you have started?
For instance, something I have learned about donors would be if someone says no, it’s usually not a no. It’s a, “Not right now or I can’t because, or I gave this one time but I can’t give any more.” You have to come to that with the standpoint of being grateful for them having given or volunteered to start with. We have these wonderful volunteers who come in and out of our lives and organizations.
We are grateful for any donation or time they have to give, even those who come and say, “I love what you are doing. I can’t give but I wanted to give you that feedback of we love what you are doing.” We know we had an impact on them and maybe they will carry forward an idea or part of our mission in some other way. Maybe they will spread the word. Spreading awareness about our cause is enough. That has been something that has been good for me.
You bring up a good point about spreading awareness. We had talked about this before when we originally spoke. It’s being aware of the different opportunities that are out there for people to get involved and volunteer. From my perspective, there’s not a resource that you can go to and say, “I want to volunteer. How can I volunteer? I want to do something like a beach clean-up. How can I get involved in that?” As you hear from other people, or whether it be social media now or whatever it is, what are some challenges you have had with spreading the word and getting that out there?
I feel like our community is receptive to the different opportunities. Social media is always changing. The rules are changing for what they are going to put across people’s screens. For us, I don’t know that it has been too much of a challenge. I have seen several organizations that have been around for a while that are learning how to do social media in this time. It’s the little things.
If you make a live video or stay on for a certain amount of time, your followers are going to get a notification when it starts and ends. It’s making sure to share it with your membership. I feel like our organizations, followers, and members are all very passionate about giving back. They are happy to share the information. That hasn’t been a problem for us. We are grateful for all of that positive energy.
Word of mouth has been a huge part of it. That goes a long way too because if someone is recommending a charity or whatever it is, that’s going to carry some weight there as well.
At our meetings, the three nonprofits that will present get five minutes to give their pitch and then five minutes to answer questions. What is nice about that is we record the meetings, and then we share the meetings afterward. We tell these nonprofits, “A part of it is an opportunity that you are presenting to 100 philanthropists who want to learn about your organization and may want to give back in other ways.” We also try to help those organizations in the long run.
If we ever see a grant opportunity or somebody who is interested in volunteering, we try to direct them to those nonprofits and send that information over because we do want to support all of them. Even if they are not an Impact Award recipient, we wanted to help as much as we could because these are all wonderful organizations.
You are still winning even if you are not the recipient for that quarter. What has been the challenge of running and starting a charity?
I’ve got lucky because I feel like I have had a lot of training over the years. You can fumble through almost anything. I figured out you can fumble through a 501(c)(3) application. You can do it all yourself. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was. Once figuring out how to do those things the right way and have that information, I get excited when somebody else needs help because then I can help them do it too.
It’s fun to learn all the new things and figure out how. When I approached the women on our leadership team, every one of them said, “Absolutely. How can I help? What can I do?” We have an excited team pushing all of this forward. I have been very fortunate to have that help and support. They are the ones that are doing all of it. They are amazing.
You bring up a good point about having a team of people around you. We all need help at different points in life for different things. Having that group of people is huge. Let’s talk about how somebody can get involved. If they want to get involved in Palm Harbor Cares or learn more about it, what can they do?
They can email us at Info@PalmHarborCares.org. We are on Instagram and Facebook, @PalmHarborCares. They can message, email, and find me. I’m on there, too. We will take them however they want to come if they want to be a member, volunteer or if their child wants to get involved in Children Who Care. If somebody has an idea for a project or program that they could see fitting, let’s see how we can connect you with another organization if that’s a better fit. We will take anybody in any capacity. If they want to join the 100 Who Care, they can click the Join Us link on our website at PalmHarborCares.org. That takes you straight to Grapevine, which is our payment processing platform.
If they are interested in joining our leadership team, you would first join the 100 Who Care. There’s a private group in Grapevine for our members and they would let us know. It’s a one-year service. Our leadership team is getting ready to come off after our April meeting, which makes me sad. Hopefully, some of them will stay on. We have already had some interests in our incoming board and leadership team. We will take anybody however they want to come. We are happy to have all volunteers and donors. We will find a place for you.
How many people do you have on the committee?
The steering committee is comprised of ten women and myself.
Will you have ten every year?
I think so.
What are your goals for Palm Harbor Cares? You are involved in helping a lot of different people in different ways. What do you see in the future?
We will go wherever the community calls us. Someday we would like to have a building that we could use for community events for other nonprofits to use for their events. It’s meeting those needs. As they come along, we would like to be prepared for some disaster preparedness that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m trained for swift water rescue, vehicle extrication, and all of those things. I did it historically and had a passion for that.
The next time a hurricane comes through, I would like for us to be able to connect the supporting organizations, bring volunteers, get supplies and whatever is needed, and be ready to mobilize in that way. We want to support these local nonprofits. We are working on a virtual conference with some training to be able to help. Whatever the need is, we want to help meet those needs.
You are bridging the gap everything between the community and the charities. One thing I like to wrap up with is for the guest to tell me what their favorite local business is. It could be in Palm Harbor or around Palm Harbor if you’ve got to pick one. It could be a business that you want to shout out. It doesn’t have to be a favorite.
I would say Tipsy Mermaid because they are in my neighborhood and I can walk there.
I have seen them before. You see them when you enter Crystal Beach. What do they do?
They have some cool, beachy giftable decor. They started a new clothing line. My boys got excited because we had these pillows made there and directional signs that had our GPS coordinates on there. They were excited about that. They don’t care if we come in and destroy the store, try on all the things, pick up all the mermaids, and smell the candles. They have been good to us.
It’s important not only to teach your children but to set an example.
Jenny, I appreciate you taking the time to sit down and chat with us. For anybody who is interested, they can find you on Instagram, @PalmHarborCares, and then your website at PalmHarborCares.org. That’s the best way to get ahold of you there.
They can email Info@PalmHarborCares.org.
Thank you again.
Thank you so much for having me.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Jenny. You can tell she is super passionate about the work that she does. It’s great to have an organization like that here in Palm Harbor. If you enjoyed that conversation, reading some of the others, and if you haven’t already, hit that follow button for Palm Harbor Local on your favorite podcast platform, whether that’s Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Deezer or whatever it is. Download the episodes as you read them.
If we can connect you with any of our previous guests or Jenny, then reach out to us on Instagram. It’s @Donnie.Hathaway and send me a message there. We also have an Instagram for the show. It’s @PalmHarborLocal. Check us out there for some updates, fun giveaways, and stuff coming up. I hope you have a great start to the week. Let’s continue crushing it. We will see you next time.
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