STORIES BY MOLLY-ANNE SEYMOUR

Final Project: Immigration Policy

Published: December 13, 2020

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Riverside Arts Market Flourishes Every Saturday Despite Pandemic

Published: Nov. 15, 2020

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The Riverside Arts Market serves the community by hosting local farmers and artists every Saturday and offering locals the opportunity to shop in downtown Jacksonville.

Community gathers at the Riverside Arts Market in September. Photo by Molly-Anne Seymour.

After being closed for 10 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the market has reopened with the addition of masks, social distancing and handwashing stations. By providing a safe place for locals to shop and interact with one another amid the pandemic, the market has brought the community back together during these unprecedented times.

John Silveira, Senior Manager at Riverside Avondale Preservation, started working with the market five years ago. Silveira has a background in operating certified farmer’s markets and considers them to be a staple within communities.

When he first moved to Florida and began working with the Riverside Arts Market, he thought it would be challenging to get weekly attendance at an art market with so many artists.

“Not everybody needs to buy a piece of art every week,” said Silveira. “You know when I first came here I was, wow, this is going to be a real challenge to get customers out here every week, but you know we must be doing something right.”

The market has been successful since reopening after being shut down because of the pandemic. Attendance at the market has steadily increased and social media has had success as well, with their Instagram account gaining over 4,000 followers during the lockdown.

This success has shown just how much the community loves the market, and how it draws people back every week.

“That’s another reason why I love this job because the quality bar never goes down,” said Silveira. “We always have to find something better to do with the products and resources that we have.”

The market continuously welcomes new artists and vendors each week. By offering a variety of products, customers continue to return, too.

 Small businesses have found much success in the market. Attia Designs, a small handmade polymer earring company, started attending in June, amid the pandemic. For a business that started as just a hobby, it has gained a lot of exposure, and has seen great success – they have the market to thank for that.

“I never really realized how important and what the impact artists have on our culture, and it’s something that is tremendously valuable and should never go away. But the only way we can take care of it is by supporting these artists so that they can continue to do their work,” Silveira said.

The market is run by a nonprofit corporation, the Riverside Avondale Preservation. Their goal is to enhance and take care of the historic district in Riverside and preserve the history there. The Riverside Avondale Preservation does this by running several programs, with the Riverside Arts Market being one of them. 

They also run a “Home Tour,” in which the Jacksonville community can volunteer to help. They sell tickets and showcase 12 or 13 historic homes in the Riverside/Avondale area to the Jacksonville community. For more information on how to get involved with the Riverside Avondale Preservation and for more information on the Riverside Arts Market, please visit www.riversideavondale.org.

Tennis Pro Passes on Life and Tennis Lessons to Jacksonville Youth

Published: Oct. 16, 2020

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Former tennis professional and UNF graduate, MaliVai Washington, merged his love for tennis with giving back to the community to create the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation in Jacksonville 24 years ago.

MaliVai Washington coaching student, Tyhlur, at the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation. Photo by Molly-Anne Seymour.

The foundation is built on principles Washington learned from his parents – high character and the value of hard work. He said if you have those two characteristics, you can go far in life.

Before starting the foundation, Washington was often approached at tennis tournaments and asked to tell his story to children at other programs. Washington’s foundation often asks volunteers to speak to the children and pass on life lessons.

“Everyone has a story that can resonate with a kid – that can benefit a kid at my foundation,” said Washington.

Washington and his dad created the foundation on paper, but it wasn’t until Washington spoke with executive director Terri Florio that he was able to create an idea of what the foundation would look like. 

He combined tennis and after-school activities to help children succeed in the Jacksonville community. Florio said activities, depending on children’s grade level, include homework assistance, life skills and leadership classes, tutoring, electives, and professional and study skills classes.

Washington considers himself to not only be the founder, but a board member, volunteer, donor and the foundation’s biggest advocate. 

“I jokingly say I never want to work as an employee for my foundation,” said Washington. “I love what we do, but I know my limitations.”

Washington believes the foundation’s employees have a gift with children and that each one of them resonates with the children differently.

Washington is proud that graduates of the program come back to visit, despite their busy lives. He considers the foundation to be a life-long accomplishment. 

“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been in northeast Florida for over 24 years,” said Washington. “It’s very difficult to have anything last for 24 years, whether it’s a foundation or relationship. I’m proud of the fact that we’re still impacting young people.” 

Washington was introduced to tennis by his father at the age of five. He played his first tournament at seven and won his first tournament when he was eight. He fell in love with the competition aspect and being on the court. 

Washington played for two years at the University of Michigan, before turning professional and playing on the pro tour. He finished his college degree and graduated from UNF in 2010. 

The foundation’s biggest event is the “Night of Hope” Oct. 8, which features special guests, student-athlete of the year awards, and silent and live auction items. This event is usually in person, but this year it is virtual on their Facebook Live due to COVID-19.

The foundation loves to have volunteers. Florio said people can volunteer as a mentor, a tutor and a worker at one-day events. Florio also encourages organizations to invite children to come and have an experience outside of the foundation. 

Please visit www.malwashington.com for more information.