A unique blend of the old, the new, and everything in between awaited visitors to the 43rd annual Arts and Antiques Show at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville the weekend of Dec. 6-8. The annual show benefits Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Antique furniture, jewelry and maps shared space with new artists and designers. A fashion show of current and former patients who have been treated at Wolfson was one of the highlights.
There were also book signings, talks by interior designers, Jim Howard, Ray Booth, and on Sunday, a talk by Dr. Adam Levine, the new director of the Cummer Museum. “I was delighted to be invited by the Women’s Board to speak at this event to support these great initiatives to help people. Outside partnerships are so important to the museum, and we want to be a part of such a wonderful community cause,” Levine said.
Vendors included Susan Spencer of New Hampshire, a first-time vendor who specializes in turning antique, mother-of-pearl Chinese gaming chips into jewelry; Foreign Affairs International, with antique prints; and Apropos Antiques, a fourth-time vendor who said this show was appealing because of the locale, the vendors and the activities. The weekend began with a black-tie gala on Friday night, which was attended by 1,000 people, some of whom were corporate sponsors.
“There really is something for everyone,” said Katherine Forrester, president of the Women’s Board, which sponsors the event every year. Robin Albaneze and Robin Love were the Chairs for this year’s event.
The Board is a 399-member, all-volunteer group that has raised $32 million to date, and is the single largest volunteer donor to the hospital. “I have been a member for 24 years, and my father, Dr. George Armstrong, was the Medical Director of Wolfson for 25 years, and my mother, Kay Armstrong, is still an active member,” she said. “Our funding target is to raise $4 million in five years for a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where each patient will have his/her own room and parents can spend the night with their children, promoting faster healing,” she explained. There are also plans for LED monitoring in the NICU so that patients will be free of wires. The new NICU will be a world-class facility.
All the food and drinks were donated by several sponsors and companies. The Tea Room was donated by The Brick, Black Sheep, and Zoe’s of Ponte Vedra, so all the money raised will go directly to Wolfson. Manning the Tea Room were Karen McCombs, Kristina Powell of Ponte Vedra Beach and Cristina Haddad.
“We met through our volunteer work with the board and we’ve been friends ever since. We love it, so we continue to do it every year,” Powell said.
The other main focus of the Women’s Board is the Florida Forum, which invites speakers from all over the world. The Chairs of the Forum are Heather Moseley, Anna Neal and Dearing Thouburn. The Forum has hosted such speakers as Nikki Haley, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and Laura Bush.
“The Florida Forum and the Art and Antiques Show are so important in the effort to reach our goals for Wolfson,” Forrester said. “The Women’s Board is a huge group of volunteers and members, and our volunteers are our engine.”
Colleen Stevens, a 30-year member, said, “The energy here is exciting, and the cause is a good one. All kids, regardless of race, religion or ability to pay, are seen at Wolfson, and it is so heartwarming to give to such a great organization, and you can do as little or as much as you want.”
For information about supporting the Women’s Board or becoming a volunteer, call the Women’s Board office at (904)202-2886, or email email@example.com.