FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – Standing in front of the small crowd of community members, Cindy Bray thanked Gulf Power for recognizing her organization for its community outreach and service to others. Humbled by the recognition, she said it will help bridge the gap and assist in what they see as the Lord’s calling to provide needed medical and dental services to the community.
Bray, clinic manager of Crossroads Center, joined Gulf Power executives and members of the community and other service organizations
November 6, in Fort Walton Beach to celebrate the Power of Service Awards given by Gulf Power to deserving nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of others in their community.
“We just want to continue to help people get back to work or continue to work,” said Bray. “Crossroads Center, our staff and many volunteers, are here to help others and we’re doing the best we can with God’s gifts.”
Opening its doors in 2007, Crossroads Center is a faith-based medical ministry that provides quality medical and dental care for the low-income and uninsured adults of Okaloosa and Walton Counties in Northwest Florida. Since its opening, the center has seen well over 12,000 patients, providing a variety of services including primary care, preventative care, dental care lab services and limited specialty and pharmaceutical services.
“Sitting behind the desk and seeing a patient walk out the door with a mouth full of gauze and there’s a huge smile on their face, is just a blessing,” said Bray. “I get to see that we really are making a difference and changing lives.”
The organization was one of two that were honored by Gulf Power for their overall community outreach efforts and service to others. Along with the Crossroads Center, Opportunity Place Inc., were presented the annual Power of Service Award for their commitment to improving the community they serve.
Echoing the sentiments of Bray and McDaniel, Chairman, President and CEO of Gulf Power Stan Connally shared his gratitude towards the organizations.
“Let’s face it team, we don’t have to go far outside of this room to find people who need our help and support,” said Connally. “It’s amazing to see organization like these, step up, love our fellow man and take care of our communities. It’s people helping people.”
When considering recipients, Gulf Power employees looked for groups that support minorities and underrepresented populations. The energy company started the Power of Service awards in 2012 to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service, and recognizes organizations that are dedicated to improving the lives of others.
“It is a privilege to recognize these organizations today that fill important roles and answer the question posed by Dr. King, ‘What are you doing for others?’ We don’t take for granted the communities that we live and work in. We’re thankful to have partners to be able to do that,” said Connally.
For the other Power of Service award recipients it’s about helping those in need to achieve self-sufficiency in a safe environment that feels like “home.”
Opportunity Place Inc., is a short-term shelter focused on long-term solutions. Open since 2009, the shelter helps provide women and families with a safe place to live as well as connecting them with resources needed to find jobs and safe affordable housing.
“We’ve provided a total of 10,000 sheltered nights just in the last year,” said Debra McDaniel, executive director for Opportunity Place. “From the moment a family comes to us, we start talking to them about their exit strategy.
The services of Opportunity Place goes beyond providing the essential everyday needs for their 90-day stay. They also create a personal development plan and connect families with resources in the community, allowing them to get jobs and find a safe place to live.
“We’re so excited about this award,” said McDaniel. “This will continue to allow for Opportunity Place to help families succeed. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when their parents are able to provide for them is what it’s all about.”
This is the sixth year Gulf Power has presented the awards in Okaloosa/Walton Counties and Fort Walton Beach. Since the inception of the award program, Gulf Power has now recognized 50 organizations in Northwest Florida and awarded more than $125,000.