Businesses are Catalysts for Cooperation and Agents of Change
Local companies are embracing a philosophy that encourages participation beyond the paycheck, long after the clock ticks 9 to 5. By harnessing the power of their people – from passionate patrons to superb staffers – the benefit to the local community is everlasting. These successful Northeast Florida businesses are just a handful of the helpful companies that illustrate gratitude by serving others outside of their everyday operations.
Acosta Sales & Marketing
As the sales and marketing powerhouse behind most of the trusted brands in the food industry, Acosta Sales & Marketing cares about feeding the hungry. Acosta has been a long-time supporter of Lutheran Social Services’ FOODFIGHT, which has raised more than $1 million over the past 25 years to battle hunger and support struggling families in Northeast Florida.
For the past six years, B&B Exterminating has focused on supporting the Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA). B&B President Jessica Miner and lifelong friends, Chip and Teresa Davis, founders of the “Flounder Pounder” fundraiser for JSA, share the experience of raising children on the autism spectrum, which inspires their efforts to spread awareness of autism and support the school.
As both an event sponsor and a billboard advertising donor, B&B and their staff provide over $12,000 in cash and in-kind support and many volunteer hours for the fishing tournament — now in its 6th year — in addition to supporting other events throughout the year.
Bold City Brewery
For Bold City Brewery’s Miller family, animals are people too. Beloved family pets and aquatic Florida wildlife alike are namesakes for many of the brewery’s offerings, so it should be no surprise that Bold City regularly hosts events for First Coast No More Homeless Pets and the St. Johns RIVERKEEPER.
Brunet-Garcia Advertising Agency
The creative energy of Brunet-García thrives in the urban core atmosphere of San Marco, so when historic Hemming Plaza needed a facelift, the agency jumped on the chance to help give the underutilized public space new life.
“As creatives, we always want to encourage efforts to make our city more vibrant. An active downtown is key to building the kind of culture that can not only sustain, but attract other creative talent and opportunities. Hemming Park is a crucial link in making that happen,” said Aerien Mull, senior art director and studio manager.
The fresh branding for Hemming Park and the new Hemming Beer Garden is the result of many hours of donated work for more than a year from the Brunet-García creative team.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Florida Network Realty
A record 733 backpacks filled with school supplies were collected by real estate professionals at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty offices throughout Northeast Florida during its 16th Annual Backpack Challenge.
“We are grateful to be able to play a role in ensuring that as many children as possible are prepared for educational success,” said Linda Sherrer, Founder, President and CEO. “The Backpack Challenge is something that our team looks forward to every year.”
The staff of Burdette Ketchum believes in using their professional talents and expertise to provide community organizations with marketing services they would not be able to otherwise afford. They accomplish this via their charitable giving program called HeartStrings. This year they are working with Gateway Community Services to develop a new video and materials, produce a photo shoot, update brand messaging and other creative elements, and assist with fundraising, all to support GCS’s mission of helping individuals seeking recovery from addictions.
After Cool Moose’s Tony Jarvis was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he and wife Laurie looked for ways they could help raise money and awareness for fellow patients and families struggling to cope with kidney conditions while sharing quality time together. Since 2013, they’ve hosted lobster bakes each fall to support both the National Kidney Foundation and the Memorial Park Foundation.
As a premier transportation company headquartered right in our backyard, CSX has a large presence in Jacksonville’s nonprofit community. One of the company’s focus areas is the environment – seen through the fuel efficiency of its locomotives and support of environmental efforts, such as the “Trees for Tracks” planting program. Partnering for the past five years with Greenscape of Jacksonville, the local nonprofit tree planting organization, they have planted nearly 400 trees and undertaken a variety of landscaping projects.
CSX senior counsel Kim Bongiovanni also serves on the Greenscape board. “We’ve been fortunate to have a strong local supporter in CSX, who understands the value that trees and landscaping bring to a community,” said Greenscape Executive Director Anna Dooley. CSX and Greenscape cooperatively hosted a tree giveaway to Jacksonville residents on November 14, 2015 in Riverside.
Fred Miller Group
For the realtors of the Fred Miller Group, Angels for Allison is a cause close to the heart. “So many of us, and our customers, have young children, and we are all so aware of the tragic twists and turns that life can take. To be able to help a family deal with such a tragedy as losing a child, a family who cannot pay for their own child’s funeral, is incredibly rewarding and uplifting,” said Carol Miller. “That’s Angels for Allison’s mission: to raise money to pay for the costs of funerals for families of children who have died suddenly. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to do, and how Jacksonville has responded with such enthusiasm.”
The Fred Miller Group supports the annual Festival of Flight and participated in a painting night fundraiser at the Angels for Allison studio.
As repeat sponsors of the Avondale 5K Classic, Grassroots Natural Market continues to offer support to the Sanctuary on 8th Street, which is dedicated to empowering youth and families in need in and around the urban core through education, social services, recreation, and the arts. As strong proponents for not only health and nutrition education, but all forms of education in the local community, it’s a rewarding opportunity for the owners and staff of Grassroots to help the children at the Sanctuary.
The Food Park Project
Valerie Hermann’s Food Park Project officially launched at One Spark in 2013, but she first spent several years learning hands-on the principles of permaculture farming in Hawaii, and cultivates her own homestead garden. Now she works with local businesses, nonprofits, and private citizens to establish native, edible, and perennial gardens to build community and self-reliance.
When the North Florida Land Trust hired Hermann to create a small permaculture plot in the front yard of its Riverside office, she built water-saving swales, enriched the soil with coffee grounds and compost, and taught the staff and volunteers to care for the minimal demands of the plants, including yarrow, squash, turmeric, and sweet potato. She volunteers her time organizing volunteer work days and educational workshops for the community at the Land Trust office and around the city.
Load King, which supplies turn-key retail solutions for brick-and-mortar restaurants, retail spaces, and kiosks, had an empty storage facility languishing in the New Town area near downtown Jacksonville when Rethreaded was hoping to establish a home base. Since 2013, Load King has provided free of charge the warehouse that houses Rethreaded’s manufacturing facilities and retail space, providing invaluable support to the mission of creating employment opportunities that help women start a new life while learning valuable job skills.
Intuition Ale Works
Regulars at Intuition Ale Works’ taproom know that it’s a rare month that passes without some special event going on in the brewery. Intuition has built a reputation for supporting as many fundraisers and nonprofits as possible, with everything from “pint nights” where a dollar per glass is donated to a nonprofit partner, like K9s for Warriors — which pairs doggy companions with returning servicemen — to custom beers concocted especially for an organization, like their limited-edition pepper-spiced Siren black lager, brewed to raise money for Girls Rock Camp.
JEA and its staff are dedicated to giving back to the community, and their support of United Way of Northeast Florida is one way they help improve the lives of Jacksonville residents in need. Last year, employees raised almost $7,000,000 for United Way through pledges, donation, and fundraising events.
Watson Realty Corp
When Judy Nicholson, a realtor for Watson Realty Corp. suddenly became ill in 2008, she was shocked to discover she had terminal kidney cancer. She had suffered no symptoms and passed away eight months later.
In her memory, Watson Realty Corp. serves as a corporate sponsor to the Judy Nicholson Kidney Cancer Foundation, which funds early-detection research. “Watson Realty is honored to support such a good cause, particularly as it has affected one of our own,” said Lorri M. Reynolds, Watson Cares 2015 Chairperson.
Eight years ago, Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery donated five goody-filled spa baskets to fundraisers and charity events around Jacksonville. Today, they’re donating as many as 500 baskets per year – filled with their own Private Label Spa Products – to support a variety of charities and nonprofits, like the Donna 26.2 Marathon, where they also sponsor a sunscreen tent to help participants enjoy the sun while protecting their skin.
Seventh Wonder Day Spa
Since opening in 2002, Seventh Wonder Day Spa has immersed itself in the community by supporting a wide variety of nonprofits, missions, and children’s programs, including the US Navy Junior Sea Cadets FDR Squadron, which helps expose young people to public service opportunities and seamanship training. Seventh Wonder also benefits Jacksonville residents directly through hosting free twice-monthly community meditations, where they teach relaxation and stress-relief, and provide the opportunity for neighbors to connect.
R&D Landscape & Irrigation
Tom Rowand, Jr., president of R&D Landscape & Irrigation, is a lifelong animal lover.
“I have a unique opportunity to help something I strongly believe in. Nothing touches my heart more than the poor dogs and cats that have to sit in the kennels at Animal Care and Protective Services, scared and abandoned. Knowing I cannot take all of them home with me, the next best solution is to support and assist those who work so hard to provide those animals the best opportunities to find a good home, and those who make their stay at the shelter more comfortable while they wait for their new homes,” said Rowand. “Our company has helped provided supplies such as peanut butter and honey for the dog treats, beds, toys, and materials such as dirt, pipes, and tarps for the group play area. To be able to help such a great organization as Friends of Jacksonville Animals is an honor and a privilege.”
Based at CoRK Arts District and hawking custom bags and refashioned clothing from her vintage-trailer mobile boutique dubbed “Shelby,” Sally Keiser of Sally Ann also shares her skills with people who are interested in learning to sew.
“I gave away the first machine in 2009, when one of my blog readers, a 17-year-old in Ohio, contacted me for advice on hand sewing because she couldn’t afford a machine. I got her address to send sewing supplies, and I sent her a machine that I didn’t use anymore. She was so grateful and appreciative that it inspired me to keep doing it,” said Keiser. “When people learn I make everything, the conversation often leads to ‘I have a machine I don’t use anymore…’ and ‘I wish I could learn to sew’ and that’s how this whole thing was born.”
Keiser has repaired and gifted about 30 machines locally, and about 40 total, to everyone from an eager 12-year-old boy to a young woman in her twenties starting an alterations company.
For Tim and Shana Massett, the independent-spirited owners of Sun-Ray Cinema in 5 Points, partnering with the creative young minds of Jacksonville’s Girls Rock Camp is a perfect fit. Sun-Ray donated the screening proceeds from The Punk Singer and other films to support Girls Rock Jacksonville, and made sure everyone was well-fed on pizza during the Girls Rock camper showcase concert.
Pajcic & Pajcic
For attorney Steve Pajcic and his staff at Pajcic & Pajcic, the city’s youth are one of Jacksonville’s most important assets. That’s why he donated $50,000 to fund supervised “Rec ’n Roll” summer recreation programs in parks across Duval County. The program aims to keep kids active, engaged with their communities, and out of trouble during summer’s long days of free time.
Steve Pajcic’s fondness for parks as healthy outdoor venues for children is also evident through a $75,000 donation to Friends of Hemming Park in August 2015. “I don’t think you can really feel good about Jacksonville unless you can feel good about Hemming Park, which is our heart and soul,” said Pajcic.
Keeping it outdoors, and in the family, Steve and his son Michael also host an annual Wiffle Golf + Happy Hour to benefit Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. The event offers participants the chance to win $6,000 for a hole-in-one, with an additional $6,000 donated in the golfer’s name to JALA. Pajcic & Pajcic also matched all entry fees, hole sponsorships and prizes won with a donation to JALA.
Each spring Natural Life hosts the Natural Life Music & Arts Festival, a free one-day festival benefiting the adoptive children and families of the Children’s Home Society of Florida. The celebration, hosted at Metropolitan Park in downtown Jacksonville, features world-class Americana musicians, local healthy food vendors, family craft activities, and regional artisans and brings out thousands in the community to enjoy a spirited day of music, dancing, art, and fun.
Terry’s Kitchen/Roberts’ Southbank Pharmacy
Terry and Gary Roberts, of Terry’s Kitchen and Roberts’ Southbank Pharmacy respectively, founded In River or Ocean (IROO) in memory of their son Clayton, who was an avid fisherman and had a deep passion for river and ocean activities. IROO promotes the protection, restoration and rational management of all river and ocean resources, working as a steward of the waterways by educating Jacksonville residents on conservation and responsible use and care of natural resources through an annual intergenerational fishing tournament and an annual memorial scholarship at Bishop Kenny High School.
ZenCog Bicycle Company
With a passion for getting people out into their community, ZenCog Bicycle Company in Riverside not only sells bicycles, but supports several local fundraisers around Jacksonville, including donating a beach cruiser for the silent auction at Clean Water Music Fest — held annually at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall — which raises money for Charity: Water, an organization that builds fresh water wells in countries with limited access to clean water.