WaterColor, Florida, Book Club Gives Back to Hurricane-Affected Students

Six months have passed since Hurricane Michael hit the panhandle of Florida. The violent storm impacted the Gulf Coast less than two weeks before WaterColor’s annual homeowner meeting. The Santa Rosa Beach community’s Board unanimously agreed to cut back on meeting expenses so the Association could make a donation toward relief efforts. 

Representing the community association, members of the WaterColor Book Club recently presented a check for $12,882 to the Bay County School System. The donation will assist with the purchase of classroom technology items and classroom rugs at Cedar Grove Elementary School. The donation will also help provide some fun for the students, who have been through so much, by funding a field trip to Shipwreck Island Water Park.

The Association’s donation is in addition to the $8,307 in donations already made by members of the WaterColor Book Club. Since November of last year, less than a month after the hurricane hit, the WaterColor Book Club has been working closely with Cedar Grove Elementary, which had taken in students from the heavily damaged Springfield Elementary, creating “Cedarfield” Elementary.

The WaterColor Book Club established the Adopt-a-Class program, which is chaired by homeowner Jamie Williamson. During the next six months, the book club visited the school monthly and supplied each second grader at Cedarfield (90 students in all) with school supplies, books and special gifts. Supplies were also provided to the teachers. Members visited classrooms to read, play games, create reading challenges and offer love and support to the children of the Title I school.

The book club selected second graders for a very specific reason. They wanted to make sure the students had all the extra help they could get at this important time in their education, regardless of time lost in school as a result of the hurricane.

“The idea was to focus on second graders because in the second grade students ‘learn to read.’ And, in the third grade, students ‘read to learn.’ Not being able to read at grade level at the third grade sets students back for their entire program of education. It sets them up to fail, or in the least, be a lower achiever than they would be if they had strong reading skills,” Williamson said. 

On behalf of the students and teachers, principal Sheila Wojnowski said the WaterColor community and its Book Club have gone above and beyond other donors to the school because they have not only provided much needed supplies but also their love and personal attention to the students.