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Retired tennis player James Blake
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Aug. 6, 201412:00 PM EST

Nonprofit news: James Blake will be guest at annual MaliVai Washington foundation gala

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

James Blake will be the featured speaker Nov. 6 at the 2014 MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation-Sherman Group of Merrill Lynch Champions for Children Gala.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to have James as our featured guest this year,” said MaliVai Washington. “James is a great example for our youth. He understood how to balance education, tennis and life, which is one of the reasons why he has succeeded at every level from high school to Harvard University to the pro tour.”

Blake recorded 24 singles finals appearances (10-14 record) and earned a career-high singles ranking of World No. 4.

His career highlights include reaching the final of the 2006 Tennis Masters Cup, the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics, and the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (2008) and U.S. Open (2005, 2006). The former American No. 1 was a key performer for the U.S. 2007 Davis Cup championship team. Blake, along with Arthur Ashe and Washington, is one of only three African-American men to represent the U.S. in Davis Cup.

This year’s gala is Nov. 6 at the Florida Blue Conference Center. The evening will include a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, dinner, scholarship award presentations to foundation students and remarks by Blake.

The gala is the largest fundraiser each year for the foundation and has traditionally raised about $200,000. Tickets will be available Sept. 1 at For early bird tickets and sponsorship information, call (904) 359-5437.

Volleyball tournament to benefit Dreams Come True

The Florida’s Sunshine State Games Grass Volleyball Series is bringing a casual game of backyard volleyball among friends to a new level.

The series gives anyone who has landed a serve for an ace, knocked down a kill for a point or dug a ball to save a point the chance to play volleyball with others for a charitable cause.

The first stop of the series, hosted by the Florida Sports Foundation and Florida Region of USA Volleyball, is scheduled Aug. 16 at the Jacksonville University Dolphin Green. The series is open to players of all ages and skill levels.

The event benefits Dreams Come True, a nonprofit dedicated to granting dreams for children with life-threatening illnesses. Dreams Come True has granted more than 3,000 dreams for children in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.

“We encourage anyone, despite your skill level, to come out and try a day of grass volleyball for charity,” said Florida Sports Foundation Senior Vice President Stephen Rodriguez.

Registration and competition information is available at

The registration fee for the Competitive Adult Coed 4’s division teams is $100, Recreational Adult Coed 6’s is $150 and Junior 6’s (girls 16-18) is $100. Team VIP fees also are available for an additional cost and include lunch, water during the event and access to the VIP area.

Teams participating in one of the six Florida stops are eligible to compete in the State Championships in November.

Companies donating supplies for students

Committed to helping students start the year with the right tools, companies are supporting United Way of Northeast Florida and area students by asking employees and customers to collect school supplies.

Publix Super Markets launched the Tools for Back to School campaign. Continuing through Aug. 13, customers and associates are encouraged to stop by their neighborhood Publix in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties to donate $5, $7 or $10, which will be used to purchase school supplies for area


“Our Tools for Back to School program grew out of the need to help students and teachers,” said Dwaine Stevens, Publix media and community relations manager. “Many families do not have the resources to purchase school supplies and teachers often spend their own money to buy supplies for their students.”

More than 20 local companies met the Cecil Shorts III Backpack Challenge and arranged supply drop-off locations in their


Organized by United Way, employees from companies including Vistakon, EverBank and Citi are collecting pens, pencils, rulers, glue sticks and additional supplies.

“As a football player, I understand my teammates and I need appropriate supplies for success on the field,” said Shorts. “In any profession, the craftsman needs his tools and it is no different for our community’s students. Being prepared with the right tools for learning is a critical part of student success and can mean the difference between a passing or a failing grade.”

Individuals may participate in the challenge by donating supplies at any of the following eight resource centers:

• Arlington Family Resource Center, Terry Parker High


• Beaches Resource Center, Fletcher High School

• Englewood Family Resource Center, Englewood High School

• Greater Springfield Resource Center, Andrew Jackson High School

• Historic James Weldon Johnson Resource Center, James Weldon Johnson Academic & Career Training Center

• Ribault Family Resource Center, Ribault High School

• Sandalwood Family Resource Center, Sandalwood High


• Westside Family Resource Center, Oak Hill Elementary School

Collection boxes are also located Downtown at the Salvation Army at 328 N. Ocean St. or in the lobby of Riverplace Tower.

Donations will be accepted until Friday in order to deliver supplies by the first day of school Aug. 18.

Local Down syndrome organization recognized with national award

The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, a nonprofit organization created to assist people with an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, has been named the 2014 National Parent Group by the National Down Syndrome Congress.

The local association received the award at the National Down Syndrome Congress 42nd Annual Convention and Award Banquet in Indianapolis in July.

The award recognizes the best parent group in the country for providing significant resources, both educational and social, to the families they serve and for their guidance and participation in the NDSC Partnership Alliance.

“We have served a wonderful community of families for 25 years, and we are grateful for their support and advocacy on behalf of all people with special needs in our community,” said Debbie Revels, association executive director.

The association serves more than 1,500 members in Northeast Florida.

It strives to help people with Down syndrome achieve their full potential by creating a community that is educated, supportive and inclusive of people with Down syndrome.

‘Wishing Well’ for six nonprofits

Wingard Creative will assist six local nonprofit organizations with creative services valued at $17,250.

The organizations are Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida, Friends of Jacksonville Animals, Matanzas Riverkeeper, Riverside Presbyterian Day School, St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School and the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund.

The organizations were chosen from more than two dozen applicants for The Wishing Well, a pro-bono program that was launched in 2013 to provide in-kind creative services to nonprofits.

In total, Wingard Creative has pledged $50,000 in creative services to nonprofit organizations this year.

“We feel that these organizations represent a strong cross-section of the nonprofit sector,” said David Wingard, founder and chief creative officer of Wingard Creative. “I am grateful for the opportunity to provide creative assistance to causes that support our most vulnerable neighbors, animals in need, the environment, the next generation of Jacksonville’s leaders and families facing childhood cancer.”

Wingard Creative plans to reopen The Wishing Well program in 2015, with the application portal tentatively scheduled to open in December.

To learn more about The Wishing Well, visit



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