Franklin’s Promise is a coalition of local, state and federal agencies whose mission is to address multigenerational poverty holistically. The Apalachicola-based organization began informally in the late 1990’s and was incorporated in 2001 as a non-profit. Trinity church was a founding member of the coalition that sought, in director Joe Taylor’s words, “to identify gaps in services and fill them.”
Early on, Franklin’s Promise established a community food pantry which was originally housed at Trinity. What began as a modest program that met the needs of several hundred persons—including home delivery of food to elderly clients as well as twice monthly food distribution for individuals and families in and around Apalachicola—has become a county-wide food distribution network, including Port St. Joe and serving over 1,000 persons in 2020. A “Toys for Tots” program was also begun—spearheaded by Kay Wheeler, a Trinity Deacon.
After the 2010 BP Oil Spill, Franklin’s Promise was the recipient of a grant from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Fund. This grant, and an explicit focus on the plight of oystermen, led Franklin’s Promise staff and volunteers to the work of Ruby Payne on understanding and remediating multigenerational poverty. Indeed, Sister Jean (of St. Patrick’s, Apalachicola) remarked that many of the people Franklin’s Promise fed, clothed, housed, counseled, and supported were the “children and grandchildren of the same people.” Betty Webb, who currently works at Franklin’s Promise coordinating grants administration, said that she offered financial literacy for oysterman around that time, and the reality and hope of putting a budget on paper brought some of those stalwart men to tears. In 2010, then, the staff decided to focus on “root causes” and help locals “build social capital” rather than simply providing social service “band-aids.”
The programs that have organically developed focus on breaking the cycle of multigenerational poverty and target young adults, aged 18-25. With a Conservation Corps (working closely with ANERR, Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center) and an Education Corps, Franklin’s Promise has trained over 250 young adults in construction, conservation, and disaster assistance skills. Through the Education Corps—an independent accredited high school directed by Eleanor Mount-Simmons—a growing number also have degrees. Many are now professionally employed in related jobs across the region. Some have risen to management positions at Franklin’s Promise.
Trained young adults are a backbone of the food pantry operation. When older volunteers dropped out during the pandemic and food distribution and mobile meal delivery expanded, it was the Corps who stepped up to unload trucks, sort, and distribute needed food. And it is the work of these young adults—and the larger network of Conservation Corps that Franklin’s Promise spawned in Pensacola and Panama City—that continues to support disaster assistance and coastal remediation. In fact, a next step for Franklin’s Promise is the development of a Coastal Resilience Training Center to equip others to address climate change and its environmental, social, and economic consequences. We hope to find more ways to support the Corps in the future.
The Outreach Committee is proud to sponsor the food pantry of
Franklin’s Promise through a $300/month donation and the ongoing collection and delivery of non-perishable food items. But there is more
that our church (and you) can do. The food pantry in Apalachicola
currently needs volunteers several mornings a week to bag food
for weekly distribution and emergencies.
Your contributions of time and money to Outreach through Trinity matter. Thank you.
-- Penny Marler for the Outreach Committee
Martha Harris, Outreach Chair; Committee Members - Jason Carter, Dee Crusoe, Penny Marler, Patti McCartney, Susie Wagoner, Steve Watkins, and Myrtis Wynn.