Women Making a Difference in Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach may offer a laid-back beach life, but it’s also a place where members of this vibrant community strive to improve the lives of others. Here are just two examples of people making a difference not only in your community but far beyond its boundaries.
Cocoa Beach Woman’s Club
Founded in 1965 with five original members, the Cocoa Beach Woman’s Club has a long history of pitching in and making a difference wherever and whenever they can. Considering themselves primarily a service club, the nonprofit is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs—an international volunteer-service organization—as well as the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs. The group’s main purpose was and still is to help better the community and its members’ lives through volunteering.
And they didn’t waste any time right from the start. Their first charitable enterprise, a hurricane relief effort aptly called “Project Betsy,” was organized in response to the epic storm of the same name that rolled through Louisiana in 1965. The fledgling group gathered and shipped 90 tons of supplies in a three-week period. Other early efforts included spearheading the mobilization of financial resources for the CB Country Club.
While much of their fundraising today goes to high school seniors for college scholarships, some of the other local and national organizations they support are domestic violence prevention, Cocoa Beach High School’s Project Graduation, the Space Coast Art Festival, hunger prevention and the Cocoa Beach Library.
Known for their entertaining fundraisers, which include dances, home tours, bingo nights, luncheons and other fun events, they manage to support the numerous social projects deemed important or necessary predominantly through the sale of tickets. One of the biggest or most popular events for promoting ticket sales with the CBWC comes in the form of fashion shows like the one held on Feb. 2. It used to be fancy-dress balls open to the public, but times have changed, just like membership.
According to the organization’s media person, the group has dwindled to 40 members since Louise Brosier’s time as the first president. They may have started with five, but the numbers have fluctuated throughout the years, swelling significantly in the ’80s, before life got so busy and attendance began to drop off.
Speaking of membership, the club is open to the public, meaning anyone can contact Carolyn Isbell, membership chairwoman, at 321.693.9992 about joining. The group meets once a month to discuss business and hear guest speakers whose topics center around the arts, conservation, education, home life, international outreach and public issues. It’s easy to sign up if you’re interested, and there’s a lot of good to be done.
If you don’t have the time for membership but you’d still like to help out, there are a variety of ways you can give back and still make a difference. They range from showing up for club service events and organized trash pickups, to buying tickets for FR events, to donating directly to the scholarship fund through “I’ll Help.” All questions or donations can be sent to P.O. Box 321104, C.B., FL 32932-1104.
Freedom Fighter Campaign at Juice ‘N Java Cafe
While the CBWC covers a wide range of efforts, Jenny Pruett at Juice ‘N Java in Cocoa Beach has begun a campaign with a singular focus: to end human trafficking. It all began with something as simple as hiking and morphed into a campaign aimed at ending human suffering of the likes few people can understand.
After being called to hike mountains in order to raise money and awareness for the important cause, Jenny had the idea to create a special blend of coffee and donate 100 percent of the profits to organizations devoted to helping end this terrible crime. Since that time, she has added T-shirts, coffee mugs, traveler cups and necklaces to the lineup of available merchandise that is sold to benefit the cause.
Freedom Fighter is in the process of becoming its own 501(c)(3), with profits from coffee and merchandise sales predominantly given to the Orlando-based group Florida Abolitionist. Jenny also raises money for Rescue Freedom International, based in Washington state, through events like endurance hikes and other local events hoping to bring awareness. It was through Rescue Freedom International that she first joined up with Freedom Hikers. While last year was her first hike with the group, she plans on taking part in many more.
It’s a difficult problem fueled by a number of seemingly innocuous sources, but one of the ways Jenny says it can be combated is to stop feeding the inferno by not supporting anything that encourages, glamorizes or perpetuates human trafficking. This can be video games, movies, adult entertainment websites and establishments, the use of underage models and suggestive advertising and more. It’s complicated, to say the least.
When asked just exactly what or who a Freedom Fighter is, Jenny says, “Someone who makes a choice to make a difference.”
She realizes what she’s up against and that the odds of success—at least anytime soon—are high, but she refuses to get discouraged and stands by the motto “one life at a time” as a reminder that it can be done. If you’d like to help, stop by Juice ‘N Java and make a difference one cup or purchase at a time.
75 N. Orlando Ave., Cocoa Beach