Volunteer Spotlight: Keeping Volunteerism in the Family

People who serve consistently at the Sulzbacher Center are true gifts to our organization.  We are fueled by the volunteers that come from our community, and each of our clients are directly impacted by our volunteers.  This impact can be felt in a number of ways:  through the meals served by volunteers in our kitchen, through the assistance provided in writing a resume, and countless other ways.  We could never express enough thanks to each volunteer for the countless hours of service and the heart and commitment they pour into every task.  Among our volunteers, who all deserve recognition but none of whom serve for it, is a mother and daughter team, Brooks and Phelps Moore, who keep volunteerism in the family.  Some of their thoughts:

Moore Family.JPG


Explain what you think makes the Sulzbacher Center special?

Local teachers have told the Children’s Program director what fond memories some of their students have of their time at Sulzbacher.  It’s a special place for families to regroup, get organized, and get back on their feet in an environment that feels like a home.  It has been incredibly rewarding for our family to volunteer in such a positive environment. Helping with tutoring at Sulzbacher each week, we have had the opportunity to form personal relationships with the children. It is enriching and inspiring to witness the resilience that these children display with the support of the Sulzbacher program, and to play a small part in supporting them through tough times. Since we moved to Jacksonville 18 years ago, our family has thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at Sulzbacher.

Tell us about some of your experiences as volunteers:

We started as birthday party planners and hosts, taking cakes, crafts and goody bags to celebrate kids with birthdays each month.  From that, we transitioned to helping organize volunteers to work in the kitchen once a month.  Working in the kitchen is a blast!  We cut fruits and vegetables, help cook, and serve meals to the Sulzbacher residents.  Last year we began tutoring the children once a week during the school year.  I think tutoring is probably the most rewarding and fun volunteer activity we have undertaken.  We get to know the kids staying at Sulzbacher and help them out with their school work.  The kids are truly inspirational, and the Sulzbacher Center provides such a happy place for them at a time in their lives when such a place is so desperately needed.


Final Thoughts:

Our experiences volunteering at Sulzbacher has been both productive and transformative. It renews us and makes us happy.


-Emily Knight-Smith, Volunteer Coordinator at the Sulzbacher Center.

To get involved or nominate a Sulzbacher volunteer for our August Spotlight, please email EmilyKnight-Smith@tscjax.org



Christian Lisowski Finishes The Race!

Christian Lisowski is a Medtronic employee hoping to raising awareness and funds for the Sulzbacher Center’s medical services by competing in the Marathon Des Sables, also known as “the toughest footrace on earth.” Checkout his final update below.

Man in desert with camel

Final MDS update from Christian Lisowski:

Wow! I can’t believe it’s over. This has been an incredibly challenging, but rewarding and absolutely beautiful week. Today we completed the 11 mile UNICEF charity stage and transferred back to Ouarzazate. The stage was fantastic. Completely runable, with a start over a very tiny dune field covered in camel grass. Then we transitioned to a somewhat rocky plain which was covered with acacia trees which looked very similar to the Serengeti. The course then wound through a dry riverbed into the outskirts of a small mud villa town to the finish.

This type of stage race presents it own challenges, running is the least of which. The self sufficiency of food and other supplies, the primitive camping for a week and then the heat. It never got below 100 during the day, which makes anything difficult. The journey however is a once in a lifetime way to intimately experience a remote part of the world. The scenery was stunning, the local people along the way were warm, and the race itself was a marvel of logistics, organization, and entertainment.

I want to thank everyone who sent well wishes and cheered me on along the way, it meant a great deal to me and picked me up through some very low points. I’m back in Ouarzazate (I can finally spell and pronounce it) and will be meeting Linda and the kids in Marrakesh later this evening. I look forward to seeing you back home!


How to Make Blessing Bags for the Homeless

Blessing Bag Main Image

Blessing Bags are gallon Ziploc bags filled with toiletries and nonperishable food items. These bags are extremely helpful to organizations with outreach teams that serve the homeless.

Between 2014 and 2015, the Sulzbacher Center’s Homeless Outreach Project Expansion (HOPE) medical outreach program provided outreach support to more than 5,000 people still living on the streets.  Because of the support from the community, our HOPE Teams are able to distribute clothing, blankets, food, water, and basic hygiene items to the homeless.

Check out the Sulzbacher_Annual Report_2015 for more impact stats. 

Blessing Bags are an easy, inexpensive way to help those in need and you can make them in the comfort of your home with family and friends.

Here’s how:

  • Identify a charity in need. 

While every charity loves a generous supporter with a willing spirit, it’s important to identify a charity to accept the donations before you begin your project.  Many organizations have restrictions on the kinds of donations they can accept. For some, storage space is often limited and needs change on a regular basis.

  • Decide on the contents. 

Here’s a list of items you can include in your Blessing Bags: bottled water/ juice box, granola bars, instant oatmeal packets, mints /hard candy/ gum, multipurpose wipes, compact First Aid Kit, socks, chap stick, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, prepaid phone card,insect repellent, sunscreen,razors, feminine products, and a personal note of encouragement.

list of items to put in blessing bags for the homeless
Here’s an example of a blessing bag we created using a variety of donated items.

Keep in mind that most organizations that work with homeless individuals and families cannot accept mouthwash donations because mouthwash generally contains alcohol.

It’s also nice to include a resource guide for your area. Here’s an example of what we include in our Blessing Bags:

Blessing Bag Resource Guide Image

  • Package and Deliver
blessing bags in progress
Volunteers from COACH created more than 100 Blessing Bags for our HOPE Teams in April 2016.

This is the fun part. You can host a packing party among family and friends to create dozens of Blessing Bags for people in need. Be sure to package your donations neatly so that they may be temporarily stored if needed and label the bags to identify any gender specific contents. For example, if you decide to create different Blessing Bags for men and women, you should label some with m’s and others with f’s as w’s tend to cause confusion. Work with your charity of choice to arrange a delivery date and time and try your best to work within the organization’s regular business hours.

For more information about in-kind donation needs at the Sulzbacher Center, visit: http://www.sulzbachercenter.org/content/kind-donations

Jasmine Souers


Christian Lisowski is Nearing The End of The Marathon Des Sables

Christian Lisowski is a Medtronic employee hoping to raising awareness and funds for the Sulzbacher Center’s medical services by competing in the Marathon Des Sables, also known as “the toughest footrace on earth.” Wish him well by sending him encouraging words at marathondessables.com, Christian Lisowski, bib # 544.

Checkout his latest update below:


Here is Christian Lisowski‘s official update:

Stage 4 – Ba Hallou to Hassi Tarfa – 84.3km

This was the biggie. 52 miles through the roughest terrain I have ever run. We began the day 5 miles in with a steep technical climb needing rope holds over a 800m peak. To start the day like this was really hard on the mental state. As I crested the peak, exhausted, I realized I had 46 more miles. The terrain on this leg was some of the most breathtaking yet, I can’t wait to post pics once I get WiFi. (We have the ability to send 1 email a day limited to 1000 character). This stage was through the night and at one point I was totally by myself on a dried out flat lake, the desert sky was really beautiful. I really struggled the last 10 miles, just wiling myself to keep moving. Finally at 5AM the next morning, I crossed the finish line and my emotions really came out, I was overjoyed to have made it past that stage. I’m spending today recovering as we have the last day of racing tomorrow a full marathon, then the UNICEF stage.
Can’t wait to talk with everyone.


Donate now to help him raise $1,000 in 6 days for the Sulzbacher Center: http://www.sulzbachercenter.org/content/run-christian