Established in early 2000 as a non-profit animal sanctuary, Northeast Florida’s oldest wildlife rescue began by saving and reintegrating large exotic cats that were originally kept as pets. Today, the sanctuary houses a slew of felines including Siberian tigers, lions, cougars, black leopards and bobcats, as well as coatimundis and arctic foxes. Most come from zoos that have shuttered, federal confiscation programs or private owners who can no longer care for the animals. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary holds frequent events, tours, feedings and public school educational programs about these rescued animals as well. Tours of the facility are run in the afternoons and last approximately 45 minutes.
In 2009, Melissa Garnier opened a small produce co-op, seeking to save money on her grocery bill while providing her five children with healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables. Today, that co-op has grown into The Neighborhood Garden, a company that regularly supplies 200 Jacksonville families with fresh meats, local honey, dairy goods, and certified organic produce from Albert's Organics in Sarasota. Patrons can pick up pre-ordered edibles from 17 locations, or opt for delivery service.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival is celebrating a decade of musical performances with a season of world-class concerts such as the June 8 show featuring the Grammy-award-winning sextet eighth blackbird. Attendees may pick up their two general-admission tickets at will-call before settling into their seats to take in a performance more mellifluous and theatrical than a troupe of circus cats harmonizing in the shower. Marvel at displays of mental and physical dexterity as eighth blackbird’s members harmonize through six pieces, often playing from memory on flute, clarinet, viola, cello, and piano. The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival will continue through June 19, with a full schedule of similarly inspiring and enjoyable performances, including chamber ensembles, tango and flamenco, American roots music, and jazz.
As a teenager, Henri Landwirth was forced to live in five different Nazi concentration camps. He spent those five years with no clothes, and understands the deep suffering that comes from being stripped of one’s dignity. When he left the camps at the age of 18, he was homeless and promised himself that he would “help other people not to suffer as much as [he] did.”
Having already founded another philanthropic group in the United States, Henri founded Dignity U Wear in 2000. The organization procures new clothing from retailers and sends it to people in need through local agencies and social workers. It focuses on schoolchildren, veterans, and women, to help improve their prospects for the future and combat barriers to success. Since it’s inception, Dignity U Wear has distributed more than 6.6 million pieces of clothing to individuals in all 50 states.
The Jacksonville Humane Society provides care, comfort and compassion to animals in need while bringing an end to the killing of abandoned and orphaned shelter dogs and cats. For a combined animal hospital, shelter and thrift store, this Beach Boulevard outpost is one of the largest animal rescue organizations in the city. Aside from adopting available animals, there are volunteer opportunities, fundraising events, a kid’s summer day camp program and a pet behavior resource and hotline, while the attached store sells all manner of animal-related items. The Jacksonville Humane Society has designated areas to view animals from adult dogs and a puppy room to the cat rooms.