Howard Group Pays It Forward
Do-Good DeveloperHoward Group develops prestigious retail and residential properties while supporting the community’s philanthropic needsBy Ashley Kahn
Founded by Keith Howard in 1987, Howard Group has developed upscale resort residences — Vizcaya at Dune Allen and Blue Mountain Beach — while attracting big-name stores to its landmark retails centers — Silver Sands Factory Stores and Grand Boulevard at Sandestin.
But for 22 years, the firm also has donated countless dollars and volunteer hours to the enrichment of the Emerald Coast community, promoting the arts, helping needy children, funding beautification projects, raising funds for a much needed local hospital. And the commitment is from the top down. Everyone participates — from Howard himself to part-time gelato scoopers at Silver Sand’s San Gelato Café.
"The more you give, the better your community is served. You have to listen to what the community wants to be and forever commit to supporting it," said Howard.
When Alan Klink, an associate of Silver Sands for 22 years, needed assistance to pay medical bills for a kidney transplant in 2008, Howard Group responded by creating the Silver Sands Comes Altogether Regarding Employees and Staff (SS CARES) program.
Outlet-center tenants Ciao Bella Pizza, San Gelato Café and Carrabba’s Italian Grill hosted SS CARES events raising thousands of dollars.
The Silver Sands Evening of Giving takes place annually on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Created to help all charitable, nonprofit and civic organizations raise money for their individual causes, participating groups sell tickets for $5 each and keep 100 percent of the profits.
The first Saturday of each November, Santa arrives at Silver Sands via Sacred Heart’s AIRHeart helicopter. All proceeds from the day’s parade benefit Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast. The Silver Sands Angel Tree — matching philanthropic shoppers to families in need — serves Families First. Donations from the Charity Gift Wrap in December went to Sinfonia Gulf Coast, the area’s only fully professional orchestra.
Since 1997, Silver Sands Factory Stores has been a Partner in the Arts of the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, supporting Concerts in the Park, the Destin Festival of the Arts and All Kinds of Art, a children’s educational outreach program for the performing, literary and visual arts.
Howard Group has also helped the Children’s Neighborhood of Children in Crisis, an initiative to provide homes and hope to area foster children who may otherwise be placed in over-capacity housing or separated from their siblings, and contributed directly to and held fundraisers for Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast. The new hospital treats 7,000 patients every month, with a monthly payroll in excess of $2 million.
For more information on future charitable events, visit silversandsoutlet.com and grandboulevard.com.