A long-time Ponte Vedra resident, Corky Heft is the manager of the thrift store at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) in Jacksonville Beach.
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
I am originally a California girl. I was raised in Los Angeles, graduated from Stanford University and worked in San Francisco before my marriage. Jim was a naval aviator stationed in Hawaii when we met. 41 years and four sons later, we settled in Ponte Vedra. Jim’s tours of duty took us to some very interesting locations, like Midway Island, Japan, Italy, Washington, D.C. and NAS Jax.
What’s the mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul?
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a group of neighbors helping neighbors. We assist with basic necessities such as food, clothing, rent, utilities, furniture, prescriptions and medical. The Society distributes nearly $250,000 annually within the Beaches community. However, it is the one-on-one contact we have with our clients that makes our mission so successful. We visit with the clients in their homes where we determine the root cause of their problem.
How long have you been involved in the organization, and why is it so important to you?
I have been a member for over 18 years. I had the honor to be president for six-and-a-half years and then was selected to open the thrift store four years ago. I was a strong advocate for the store as a continuing source of income for our mission. SVDP is very important to me as we are not bound by the rigid rules of other agencies; we raise our own funds and distribute them where needed. When we visit the client’s home, we try to determine what the Society can do to turn the situation around. We often combine our efforts with other local agencies. Sometimes a check is not the only answer.
Are there any upcoming projects that prospective volunteers can get involved in?
We have outgrown our present location, and our building is due to be razed with the erection of a new church. We would like to remain close to our supporters at St. Paul’s and Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church (OLSS). So, we need help relocating. We always need help with picking up and delivering goods and furniture. And we always need help in the store and donor center. Our parishioners and friends are very good to us, and we always need assistance in sorting, tagging and readying merchandise for sale. We also need volunteers with web and advertising experience. Our store is a mutual effort with the volunteers lending their talents in display, sales, organization and maintaining our friendly, neighborhood atmosphere.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ponte Vedra?
Ponte Vedra is very much like the beach community where I was raised. We had a home on the beach about 14 miles north of the present Malibu Colony. I fell in love with the ocean and beach as a child. When it was time to retire, we fell in love with Ponte Vedra. One of our sons lives here also, and two more are within driving distance. Our fourth son lives in San Antonio. Our six grandchildren love to visit Nana at the beach. I hope Ponte Vedra never loses the small community ambiance.
How do you like spending your free time?
I love traveling, walking the beach and reading. I am a voracious reader and love the library. We spent so much time overseas that we missed much of our country. I am trying to catch up.