Celebration of Life raises money for local ministry serving struggling community members

Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The life and memory of a local woman was celebrated on Thursday night through a special art auction at “The Pour” on Front Beach Road.

“This whole event is just beyond anything I could have ever dreamed,” said Paula Fredrick, mother of Amy Fredrick, who died about a month ago at just 25 years old. “[She was] just a super duper bubbly, just beautiful, beautiful child. I really miss her.”

Amy Fredrick was a community member, a daughter, a sister and a friend, lost too soon due to a drug overdose.

“A lot of young people, we’re losing them,” Fredrick said. ”And there’s got to be some help.”

Like many others, she said her daughter struggled mentally after Hurricane Michael and through the pandemic. Now, she hopes to raise awareness to other parents who may not see the signs that something is wrong.

“Parents talk to your kids,” she said. “Open up conversations that might not be pleasant. Open those up.”

She said Thursday night’s event honoring Amy’s life at The Pour is a step in the right direction, raising money for The Ark, a local transitional housing ministry for people struggling under the weight of life or addiction in the community. 

“Currently there’s roughly 60 people in the program,” said co-director, Liz Bennett, who runs The Ark with her husband Mike. “It’s a gracious gift, it’s much needed and we work with about 6 different rehabs that we send the residents to and we just do everything we can here at The Ark to help people through that transition.”

After experiencing the pain of losing a family member to addiction, the Bennetts started The Ark to give others struggling new hope; Residents said on Thursday that the experience has been life-changing.

“I came down here, I didn’t have any family, any friends,” said resident Jesse Wallace. “Wound up on the streets and they took me in, took my cat in and they’ve been nothing but kind.”

“I got to get my license back, I got a car,” said resident Nikki Lane, who struggled with addiction. “Got a great job, and I’m moving out tomorrow!”

Fredrick said it’s all she could hope for.

“This whole thing has been a tragedy, of course,” she said. “I think that if you could find a silver lining in it it would be that we could bring awareness and we could help others. That’s what I always taught the girls.”

In the words of Amy Fredrick, “the goal is to live life every day, with purpose, love and grace;” Something her memory continues to do even now.

To contribute to The Ark, the Bennetts said having a cup of coffee at The Pour is a great way to donate. Volunteers are also appreciated.

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