Focus 450 kicks off countdown with reception


Members of the St. Augustine community came together Thursday night at a Focus 450 reception to kick off the countdown to Sept. 8, 2015, and to raise awareness for several legacy projects.

In the Visitor Information Center, where the reception was held, almost every wall of the building had tables and project boards against them encouraging patrons to get involved.

The St. Augustine Art Association was located toward the entrance of the building where it showcased some of its latest efforts to create funds for Touch St. Augustine.

Touch St. Augustine Art Garden was initiated by the Art Association to create touchable art for those who are visually impaired to enjoy art with Braille signage and audio guides.

So far, this project is just $3,000 away from its goal of $50,000. Some of the funds are from Art Association while the others are provided by the community foundation.

“We partner also with the Florida School of the Deaf and the Blind. This is our 13th year of partnership and we do a touchable art show every October for the blind. So probably within the next month, two months, everything will be installed and we’ll be ready to put up a press release,” said Diane Bradley, Art Association board of directors president.

Other organizations represented included the The Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association, The Bridge of Lions, Fort Mose Historic State Park, the Children’s Museum of St. Augustine, Forward March, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Menorcan Sister City Garden.

About 120 people paid to attend the reception. Some of those in attendance included St. Augustine’s former mayor, John Bailey and his wife as well as current St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles.

Not only did Boles attend, he also spoke to encourage those in attendance to donate to the efforts of Focus 450.

“To get all this stuff done, we need St. Augustine partners,” Boles said.

Focus 450 president Jim Browning and vice president Len Weeks also asked for support for the group’s efforts in making the 450th celebration one the community would be proud of and remember.

“What we really appreciate are the people and projects that we’re going to try to help. So Focus 450’s goal is to assist some of these projects that you see here tonight in the raising of funds and creating additional awareness of their projects,” Browning said. “There’s no way that one organization can raise all of the money for what these projects stand for but there is the opportunity for us to go outside the city and try to raise money on a corporate level and that’s one of our goals.”

In September of 2015, St. Augustine will be 450 years old so Focus 450 has begun raising funds for projects and getting a plan in place about six months ago.

“It’ll be 37 more years before any city in this country thinks about planning for one because the guys at Plymouth Rock think they had it done but we were 37 years ahead of them,” Browning said.