News Briefs for the Week of June 1-7, 2023


Local United Way helps 1,368 residents file taxes

The United Way of St. Johns County has announced that its RealSense-SJC program has helped residents file 1,368 tax returns for free, resulting in more than $1.18 million in returns. The program expanded to serve Putnam County in addition to St. Johns County this year, providing free tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

In addition to the financial benefits, the program also saved residents $328,320 in preparation fees. This year, 26 volunteers dedicated 2,800 hours, providing quality tax preparation services to residents with incomes of $74,000 or less. Other partners who made this important program possible include Vystar Credit Union, St. Johns County, Heart of Putnam and the IRS.

“We are thrilled to lead the RealSense-SJC program, which provides critical assistance to low- and moderate-income families and individuals in our community,” said Joe Pickens, chair of the United Way Board. “The dedication of our volunteers and partners makes it possible to help residents navigate the complex tax system and claim the credits they deserve."

Palm Valley Market every Tuesday

The Palm Valley Market is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday inside the Palm Valley Community Center, 148 Canal Road. The market offers fresh produce, baked goods, local honey, tea, seasonal treats, soap, jewelry, plants and more.

Mega Open House Weekend set for June 10-11

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty will hold its next Mega Open House Weekend on June 10-11.

The event features numerous open house viewings of the company’s listings of available homes. Along with the in-person open houses, homes will be featured virtually on social media.

In May, the company’s Mega Open House event hosted 48 in-person open houses with virtual open houses on social media to ensure maximum reach and engagement. The online analytics show the virtual open houses attracted more than 50,000 online impressions, an aggregate reach of 38,077 users and 3,435 clicks.

Go to for a list of open houses. Go to the company’s Facebook page,, and Instagram,, to view the homes virtually during the event.

Morris Center plans Fun Fest

The Morris Center, 50 Executive Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, will hold a free Family Fun Fest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 24. There will be food, sensory stations, face painting and free occupational therapy screening with registration for ages 5-12. For further information, call 904-834-2482 or go to

Pianist to perform with symphony

World-class pianist Conrad Tao returns to perform with the Jacksonville Symphony on June 9 to close the season with a performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in a program that also includes Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10.

Conrad, a former child prodigy at the piano, is also an acclaimed composer whose original works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony and more.

To learn more or purchase tickets, go to

Gala raises $675K for Ronald McDonald House

Nearly 300 supporters raised a record-setting $675,000 to support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville during its May 20 gala fundraising event, presented proudly by Fields Auto Group, Vystar Credit Union, Campbell Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Southeast Inc, Florida Blue, Nan and Joe Ferrara, and Tim and Stephanie Cost.

McGala 2023, in celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the Jacksonville location, was held at Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

“Our McGala was an opportunity to commemorate three-and-a-half decades of unwavering commitment to helping families during their most challenging times,” said Joey Leik, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville CEO. “We are profoundly grateful for the collective efforts that have transformed RMHC into a beacon of hope for countless families from around the world.”

— Compiled by Shaun Ryan


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