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Florida's Big Sister of the Year Verna Fields and Sarah Hagins, her mentee for nearly 10 years.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 1, 201712:00 PM EST

Nonprofit news: Florida's 'Big Sister of the Year' is retired Duval County principal


Verna Fields, a Jacksonville native and retired Duval County Public Schools principal, has been selected Florida’s 2017 Big Sister of the Year.

She has been an active mentor of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida’s mentoring program for more than nine years, spending time with her mentee, 16-year-old Sarah Hagins.

Fields will be recognized in April during Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida’s legislative session in Tallahassee as well as in July at the organization’s state conference in South Florida.

Hagins nominated her mentor because of her caring nature and the overwhelming support Fields has offered during some of the most difficult times in her life, according to a news release.

Sarah’s mother, Julie Matthews, is appreciative of the support Fields has provided to her daughter.

“Verna is very much a member of our family. Sarah’s future will be much better because of her,” Matthews said.

“Sarah is not as quick to give up on school and life and her future as she once was. Verna is the best Big Sister I could have ever hoped for,” she added.

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida, visit or call (904) 727-9797.

A month of giving at Jersey Mike’s

Fourteen charities across the state, from children’s organizations to veterans groups, are joining forces with nearly 150 Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants in Florida for the seventh annual Month of Giving fundraising campaign.

The 12 Jersey Mike’s restaurants in North Florida will collect donations for Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

The campaign will end with Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving on March 29, when the restaurants will donate all of the day’s sales to the partner charities.

In 2016, Florida Jersey Mike’s locations raised more than $445,000. Last year’s campaign raised more than $4 million nationwide.

Since 2010, the restaurant has raised more than $20 million throughout the country.

For more information about the Month of Giving, visit

W-D Wish Squad at Point Meadows

As Winn-Dixie celebrates the one-year-mark of its store at 10915 Baymeadows Road, it has a gift for the Point Meadows Community.

The Winn-Dixie Wish Squad — a new community action program — will perform projects for two Baymeadows-area organizations each month.

Customers will vote for the project they would like the group to carry out each month with tokens earned each time they spend $30 or more.

The winning projects will be announced at the end of each month with the squad completing the wish the following month.

The inaugural beneficiaries are Celebration Church and Twin Lakes Academy Elementary School.

Raise a Glass for a Cure at Whiskey Jax

Whiskey Jax will host Raise a Glass for a Cure in conjunction with the kickoff of the 2017 Take Steps Jacksonville walk to benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

The March 16 event is 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the restaurant at 10915 Baymeadows Road.

Light hors d’oeuvres will be served and each attendee will receive two drink tickets.

There will be a silent auction with items including theater tickets, a children’s adventure package, a stay at a beachfront hotel, jewelry and gift certificates to Jacksonville restaurants.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. They can be purchased at

Take Steps Jacksonville is April 22 at the Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach. Registration begins at 10 a.m. followed by the 11 a.m. walk start.

Proceeds will benefit the foundation in its search to find a cure for inflammatory bowel disease.

Register at

Celebrity Chefs lunch is March 30

The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary will present the 31st annual Celebrity Chefs fundraiser at 11 a.m. March 30 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

The event features local celebrities dishing up their favorite recipes and a silent auction to raise money for the programs of The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida.

Tickets are $30 in advance and include admission to the tasting and silent auction, as well as a cookbook with the recipes featured at the tasting. Parking is free.

This year, members of Jacksonville’s nonprofit community will be the featured chefs.

The auxiliary membership includes more 100 women who work throughout the year to make the event possible.

Funds raised support programs including scholarships for homeless children at the Child Development Center, contributions to the family self-sufficiency fund and purchasing bus passes for the Towers Center of Hope and ongoing support of the Adult Rehabilitation Center.

Tickets can be purchased at

Eat pancakes for children’s hospitals

From 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, IHOP guests can receive a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes at restaurants coast-to-coast.

In return, they are asked to leave a donation that will go to area children’s hospitals.

Locally, donations will benefit the pediatric programs at UF Health Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Since it began in 2006, IHOP National Pancake Day has raised $24 million for youth health and wellness organizations.

For more information on National Pancake Day or to learn more about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and make an online donation, visit

Y Healthy Living Center opens on Dunn Avenue

The second phase of the Baptist North Medical Campus is open, featuring a three-story building encircled by a walking trail and housing a YMCA Y Healthy Living Center and physician offices.

The building is the second constructed on the campus at the intersection of Interstate 295 and Dunn Avenue.

Baptist North promotes health and integrates wellness concepts as part of the building design.

For example, people entering the building may choose to take the stairs rather than the elevator when they see the stairs are encased in glass and feature a ceiling-to-floor photo mural of a North Florida oak hammock, bringing the outdoors inside.

Local and regional artists’ work is featured throughout the building.

The on-site YMCA provides access to fitness and wellness programs for adults and families, including cardio and strength equipment, group exercise studios, nutrition consultations and youth sports.

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