Helping others “because it is a huge part of who I am”

Helping out at the I.M. Sulzbacher Center from Help 4 Jax are Courtney Crawford, Casey Goodwin and her father, Sal Goodwin, Liam Nields, and Isaiah Nields. Front row: Taylor Batah and Jordan Polster

Casey Goodwin

When it came to teaching their daughter how to give back, Casey Goodwin’s parents took to heart the essence of the Biblical proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

When she was eight years old, Goodwin recalled her parents suggested that instead of receiving birthday presents, she request that her party guests bring items she could re-gift as Christmas presents to give to the homeless at the Sulzbacher Center.

“From a fairly young age, my parents encouraged me to give back,” said the 17-year-old San Jose resident. “Since my birthday was in December, they encouraged me to get Christmas gifts to give to the Sulzbacher Center since I was fortunate and didn’t really need anything else. When we delivered all those presents, I felt the love in it and realized it was something I wanted to continue doing. I don’t know what kind of job I will end up doing in my life. All I know is I want to go into something that allows me to help people, whatever it is, because that’s a huge part of who I am.”

The early philanthropic lesson manifested itself again when Goodwin entered middle school. A student at The Episcopal School, Goodwin is founder and president of Help 4 Jax, a student organization she started at the middle school as a seventh grader and continued when she entered high school. “We volunteer and raise funds for four organizations – the Sulzbacher Center, Downtown Ecumenical Services Council (DESC), Dignity U Wear and the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation,” she said, noting the group meets twice a month. “The club kind of grew with me.”

The Episcopal senior also serves as one of three co-presidents of the Episcopal Upper School’s Community Service Council, a group that meets once a month to promote three or four Jacksonville community service events on campus. The Council also plans a school-wide community service day in March.

This year, the group advocated for Buddy Walk, an October walking event that raises funds for the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, and Walking Tree Event, a fundraiser for the North Florida School of Special Education, where students partner with children from the North Florida School by walking around the track and playing games.

Also planned is Josh’s Run, a dog-walking event to benefit Paws Park, a membership playground for dog owners and their pups in Jacksonville Beach. The funds will help purchase benches, shelters, agility courses and Astroturf, Goodwin said. The event is named after Episcopal alumni Joshua Heinz, who passed away in January 2014.