Partly Cloudy, 99°
Weather sponsored by:
Celebrate Clay

Mission of the Dirt Road selected as top nonprofit of the year

Don Coble
Posted 4/25/24

ORANGE PARK – One of Paul Reinhold’s favorite stories nearly 100 years ago is about three men cutting stones. The first told a passer-by he was cutting one. The second told the passer-by he was …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Celebrate Clay

Mission of the Dirt Road selected as top nonprofit of the year


Posted

ORANGE PARK – One of Paul Reinhold’s favorite stories nearly 100 years ago is about three men cutting stones. The first told a passer-by he was cutting one. The second told the passer-by he was making $5 a day. The third stonecutter told the passer-by he was building a cathedral.

His personal and business philosophy embodied the foundation of this year’s $15,000 Paul E. Reinhold Community Service Award winner, Mission of the Dirt Road, at the annual Celebrate Clay Community Service Awards Banquet.

“They will be the first to tell you they don’t do it alone, forever mindful of all the help they’ve been given,” said Celebrate Clay judge and Reinhold Foundation Trustee Rev. Neely P. Towe. “Their journey began with one woman, one woman’s love for her hometown, especially her love for a low-income neighborhood in her community that had so much need. Having a cathedral with stones as a foundation is one thing. Of course, we applaud that. But imagine building a cathedral beginning with dirt.

“I get so caught up in this stuff with over 1,000 acres and 20 miles of dirt roads. That’s how she began. This is the size of the impoverished rural neighborhood at risk of becoming an area of total blight, and this mission has been intentionally chosen to center on making disciples through community development. This mission operates as a community center and the church at the neighborhood’s main entrance. The neighborhood is rural and antiquated, lacking the resources and development to support the 500-plus homes (at High Ridge Estates) and families that live this mission and dream of transforming the neighborhood into a vibrant community. But that’s such a big dream.”

The mission in Keystone Heights is to offer free tools, showers and mentoring. It has rallied community and county support for food pantries, clothing, free coffee, Wi-Fi and medical services, and it prompted the Board of County Commissioners to designate the area as one of its three primary initiatives.

The Reinhold Foundation donated a combined $100,000 to 43 different Clay County nonprofits at the Thrasher-Horne Center.

Retired Clay County Judge Timothy Collins, was one of the five judges who poured through the applications, spoke about nonprofits’ impact on the community.

“Just imagine, for a second, the number of artists, actors, musicians, who would not be around if it was not for you,” he said. “Imagine the history and the culture that would disappear. The veterans that would not be given the support when they risked their lives for us. Imagine how many kids would needlessly struggle through school and quit, except for vision screening and glasses provided by those. Just imagine the kids except for those reasons provided by those in this room. Just imagine the kids who would be hungry, thinking that no one in this world cares except for the food the people in this room provide. Just imagine the persons with disabilities who are served and who serve as a result of services provided by people in this room. Just imagine the mental health treatment provided to children, teens and adults who had otherwise spiraled down, packed out, and commit suicide, except for the services people provided. And, just imagine the children and adults who would go hungry without power, who would go without proper medical treatment and not be able to become good except for the people who are in this room. That’s who you are.”

The foundation has awarded over $1.26 million to Celebrate Clay award recipients over the past 15 years.