Volunteer Spotlight: Amy McDaniel
Beaches Habitat is proud to feature Amy McDaniel, founder of Beach Bash, for this month’s spotlight. We are so grateful for Amy’s many years of service. Read on for an interview with Amy…
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Rock Hill, SC. My parents just celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary and I have two brothers. I graduated from Winthrop University and then moved to Ohio and worked as Director of Marketing at Arthur Treacher’s National Headquarters. The City of Jacksonville recruited the company to relocate and that’s how I landed here in 1993. Arthur Treacher’s was sold in 1996 and I retired for a while. My two daughters, Nicole and Morgan, now in their mid 20’s were both born in Jacksonville. My husband, Mac, is an avid outdoorsman and I enjoy creating dishes out of his fishing and hunting bounty. We reside in Ponte Vedra Beach with two dogs, three rescue cats and two aquatic turtles.
How are you involved with Beaches Habitat?
I founded a Major Fundraiser called Beach Bash in 2004 and chaired it most years.
When did you begin volunteering with Beaches Habitat?
I started serving on the Family Selection Committee in 1999. I served on the Board of Directors from 2000-2003.
How did you find out about Beaches Habitat?
In 1998 I adopted a family in need during the holidays through Volunteer Jacksonville. The family of five lived in a substandard, overcrowded trailer off Mayport Road. The front door didn’t even fit the frame and couldn’t be locked. The children were only ages 3,4 and 5. I was concerned for their safety since two registered pedophiles lived in that area. There was no heat and the kitchen cabinets had no drawers or doors.
I vowed to do something to help them and contacted the Atlantic Beach Police Chief David Thompson. I rode with Chief Thompson to the property and he cited the landlord. The trailer door was replaced the next day. I supplied the family with a space heater, food, warm clothing and toys for the children. I wanted to do more.
I complained to my friend, Kristi Mansouri about this poor family’s plight and the despicable housing/landlord situation. She told me that she had just heard about Habitat for Humanity coming to the area. I called and spoke with the Executive Director Ralph Marcello at the time and he invited me to meet with him.
What motivated you to get and stay involved with Beaches Habitat?
The simple desire to help the Banks family in 1998 is where it all started. Watching the program make such a huge difference in that family’s life motivated me to keep it going and help others.
After serving several years on the Board of Directors, I pitched the idea of holding a Major Fundraiser and the Board gave its blessing. The first event I Chaired for Beaches Habitat was a 2001 New Year’s Eve Gala held in a tent at Sawgrass Marriott. It was freezing and the heaters in the tent were not working. Even though it was a bit of a disaster, we still raised over $20K. Not bad for a first try. However, I swore I would never chair another fundraiser during the holidays again! Beaches Habitat participated in a joint fundraiser called Beach Ball with Beaches Baptist Hospital for several years after that.
I started the Beach Bash in 2004 as a way to engage volunteers and donors who don’t necessarily like to hammer nails. The event was a success. My wheels were constantly turning to make the fundraiser bigger and better than the previous year. It was a personal challenge keeping in mind that Beaches Habitat needed the funding to continue its mission.
What’s your favorite part of volunteering with Beaches Habitat?
Meeting incredible people and watching the Habitat children grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. The families are so grateful to partner in literally building their own homes and futures. The educational programs are phenomenal. It’s heartwarming and satisfying to know I was small part of that through volunteering at Beaches Habitat.
Has volunteering with Beaches Habitat changed something about yourself or your life? What was it that changed?
Volunteering with Beaches Habitat changed my perspective on life. I was blessed to be born into a loving family and stable home. I took for granted all that I had until I met the Banks family. Sheila, Donnell, Brittany, Destiny and Trevon had as much of a positive impact on my life as I did on theirs. Beaches Habitat was the miracle that changed all our lives for the better. We will be forever grateful.
What is your most memorable accomplishment from your time volunteering?
Helping the Banks family partner in a home of their own over 20 years ago.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering volunteering with Beaches Habitat?
Don’t just think about it, do it. If you don’t like construction work there are plenty of other ways to volunteer. Your efforts do make a difference, are needed and greatly appreciated. You will meet the most wonderful people. Trust me…you won’t regret it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself or about volunteering with Beaches Habitat?
I have loved being a part of the Beaches Habitat for Humanity family. This community is blessed to have such a passionate organization committed to eliminating substandard housing.
Interested in getting involved?
Although we are still adjusting to our “new normal” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d still love to hear from you! Send us an email and we’ll get in touch when opportunities become available.