When you look at the beautiful expanse of the Gulf of Mexico, it is hard to imagine families along the coast are struggling.
But according to Stephanie McMinn, there is no shortage of families in need, and the Santa Rosa Beach philanthropist is aiming to lend a helping hand.
“If we step off the beautiful 30A or miraculous Scenic Highway 98, you can find those in need,” she said.
Seeing the need in the community, McMinn and her close friend Courtney Hatten set out to help them via BeGenerous, an organization that collects and distributes diapers, food, and larger items to Northwest Florida families.
McMinn said she received a divine push to start the organization when she and Hatten attended a Night of Worship for women at their home church of Destiny Worship Center. The speaker, Lisa Bevere, presented a seminar “encouraging women to be awakened by their passion and to follow their dreams,” said McMinn, who left “fired up,” though unsure how to proceed.
At this time, the success of her husband’s property restoration business, Emerald Coast Clean Up, allowed her to be a stay-at-home mom, though she said she longed for something more.
One day in 2010, shortly after the women’s seminar, McMinn happened to catch Ellen Pompeo as the guest on “The Ellen Show.”
Pompeo was promoting Huggies’ “Every Little Bottom” campaign to provide clean diapers to families who cannot afford them.
“That was it,” said McMinn. “It resonated with me. I was a teenage mom. Although I had love and support of my family, I still struggled. I researched the need, and saw statistics such as one out of three mothers in America struggles to provide diapers for her babies.”
McMinn told Hatten about the issue, and the two decided their mission would be to alleviate the financial strains of local families by providing them diapers and food.
In 2011, BeGenerous came to reality, and not long after, word “spread like wildfire and needs started pouring in.”
McMinn said organizations from local food pantries to the Florida Department of Health sought the help of BeGenerous, which was able to meet their needs thanks to community members’ donations.
“BeGenerous is the voice, the bridge. The people make it happen. Their generous hearts and willingness to be the hands and feet are changing our community,” said McMinn.
Though McMinn’s involvement with BeGenerous slowed following an unfortunate accident in July 2011, which rendered her husband paralyzed and herself the family’s sole provider, she has returned to her “God-given mission” more determined than ever.
And for a mother of a six-child blended family, wife to a disabled husband, and a full-time worker outside of BeGenerous, it is a balancing act.
But she says she’s no Wonder Woman.
“God does it for me,” she said. “Honestly, I think he turns the clock back throughout the day giving me a few more hours so I can do it all.”
And she’s just thankful to act as a conductor of good will.
“Many, believe it or not, come back to me asking if they can pay it forward,” said McMinn. “Giving those in need hope, instilling their faith in God … It is truly a blessing to be a part of.”
To help BeGenerous, email McMinn at firstname.lastname@example.org, call her or Courtney Hatten at 974-3170, or visit begenerousinc.org or gmommasmission.blogspot.com.
McMinn says the greatest need is diapers, though they accept food items, clothing, furniture, and other family necessities. Drop-off locations for small items are La Florida Coastal Properties in Grayton Beach at Grayton Corners and Prime Lending, 36164 Emerald Coast Parkwayin Destin. Email McMinn for drop-off of larger items.