Charities, Non-Profits, and Groups that Make St. Augustine Special
With world-class dining, entertainment, and amenities, it may be shocking to learn that there are less than 15,000 year-round residents who call St. Augustine home. However, it’s no surprise to anyone who has visited the Oldest City that it is an incredibly tight-knit community.
People from all walks of life come together to support one another in any and every way they can. There is no shortage of charities, non-profits, and even social clubs that make it their mission to improve the community we love. Here are just a few of the incredible local organizations making a difference here in northeast Florida and beyond.
Betty Griffin Center
Founded in 1990, the Betty Griffin Center provides services for men, women, and children impacted by domestic and sexual assault. The organization grew quickly through the efforts of volunteers and full-time staff and opened the Betty Griffin House as a permanent shelter in 1994. They now support more than 550 victims annually, providing shelter, counseling, and age-appropriate training.
Funding for this important non-profit comes from locals who help run and participate in special events all year long, as well as donating high-quality items to their two local thrift stores.
St. Francis House
The St. Francis Housing Crisis Center can be found in the heart of historic Lincolnville. Along with the Port in the Storm Homeless Youth Center, this organization provides temporary shelter and basic needs for individuals and families.
Volunteers are integral to the St. Francis House, and even just a few hours can make a huge difference. This is evidenced by their “Chef’s Night Out” program. The St. Francis House serves 59,000 meals per year and anyone can get involved—all you have to do is bring a prepared meal, have it catered or bring the ingredients and cook it in their kitchen.
Pie in the Sky
Individuals of all ages need support, but senior citizens are some of the most vulnerable. Florida is listed as the seventh-highest median age in the United States, and seniors in our community can be hit hard by small shifts in the economy, health issues, and lack of care.
Pie in the Sky is a volunteer-driven organization that delivers food to senior citizens across St. Johns County. Six years ago, there were four volunteers. Now, there are over a hundred and there’s always room for more! These hard workers fight senior hunger by delivering fresh produce, eggs, and hosting annual events to help raise money to feed aging seniors in our community.
Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center
Lincolnville is a key stitch in the historical fabric of St. Augustine. Founded by free African-American men and women in 1866, the “rich history of the Black experience in St. Augustine, Florida is also the history of the Black experience in America.”
Operated by the Friends of Lincolnville, the Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center shares the tradition and legacy of African-American history in Florida from over the past 450 years. All are welcome to support their mission through plentiful volunteer opportunities or by becoming a member of the museum.
St. Augustine Youth Services
If you were to summarize St. Augustine Youth Services’ (SAYS) mission statement in one word, it would be “empowerment”. Through coaching, community action, and therapy, SAYS aims to give every child the ability to thrive.
Since their start in 1989, SAYS has moved from a single building in downtown St. Augustine to partnerships with national organizations like the United Way, and now operates four group homes. They additionally help youth in Flagler and Putnam counties.
K9’s for Warriors
The largest provider of service dogs for veterans is right in your backyard! Based in Ponte Vedra, K9’s for Warriors is working to end veteran suicide by pairing veterans with four-legged friends.
There are many ways for locals to get involved with this incredible non-profit. Plus, you’ll get to hang out with some amazing pups—that’s what we call a win-win!
Love furry friends but prefer friendly felines? Murphy’s Kittens has you covered. This cat sanctuary and adoption program is named after Murphy, a stray kitty who was introduced to a litter of abandoned kittens. He took over as their “adopted” mother and taught them everything a cat needs to know (grooming, playing, and socializing with humans).
Their mission is to get all of the stray cats and kittens off the streets of St. Johns County, and into loving homes. Murphy’s Kittens is moving locations in 2023, so they are currently closed to intakes. However, adoptions are still running!
The First Tee of North Florida
The First Tee of North Florida is another community organization formed to empower and educate youths of all backgrounds. The junior programs equip kids with life skills taught through the game of golf. Alumni of the program have gone on to become doctors, aerospace engineers, and even professional golfers!
Local golfers can get in on the action by volunteering their time as coaches, or participating in golf tournaments all year long.
St. Augustine Community Chorus
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” Now, multiply that single voice by the entire community. The St. Augustine Community Chorus empowers people of all ages to perform choral music at a high artistic level. Their biggest focus is building a musical community where everyone has an equal voice.
There is more than one way to make your voice heard. Those of us who are, uh, “tonally challenged”, can make tax deductible contributions to the adult and youth chorus. The chorus performs community concerts that are open to the public.
St. Augustine Yacht Club Foundation
The St. Augustine Yacht Club is one of the oldest existing community organizations in the Ancient City. Founded in 1873, the goal has always been to promote a healthy lifestyle and excitement of water-based activities. They also possess a charter issued by the United States War Department that gives the club the responsibility of defending St. Augustine and blockading the inlet in times of war.
Their recent activities are decidedly more peaceful; teaching sailing to children and stressing the importance of the conservation of natural resources.
Just outside of the historic district you will find the Limelight Theatre, a community run performing arts center that delivers a variety of year-round performances to St. Augustine and the surrounding areas. Co-founders Anne Kraft and Jean Rahner staged the first Limelight production at the Monson Bayfront Inn in 1992. They would purchase their current 125-seat theater in 2001 and have been there ever since.
In addition to their full theater program, Limelight Theatre offers classes and camps for children ages 5 to 18. The KidzfACTory gets kids interested in the theater a chance to learn what it takes to stage an entire production. But you’re never too old to learn in this community, Limelight also offers classes for adults, like their popular Improv Basics class.
Wags & Whiskers
You might see Wags & Whiskers Pet Rescue and think it’s just another animal shelter. It’s actually quite a bit more. This non-profit, no-kill pet rescue and adoption agency is not a shelter. With the help of its incredible team of volunteers this community organization is made up of a network of foster homes for dogs and cats.
Wags & Whiskers provides furry friends in need with love and care until they can be partnered with the perfect home. Forever. They are accepting donations to cover food and veterinary costs and welcome volunteers to help foster.
SAFE Animal Rescue
The main goal of S.A.F.E. Animal Rescue is saving animals from kill shelters. It’s right in their name, a clever acronym for “Saving Animals From Euthanasia”.
S.A.F.E. has rescued over 27,000 pets since 2008. This community organization extends to four adoption centers in St. Augustine Beach, Treasure Beach, Hollister, and Palatka, plus a thrift store at the St. Augustine Beach location.
HorsePlay Therapy Center
Dogs typically get a lot of the shine when it comes to emotional support and therapy animals, but they’re far from the only heroes in the animal kingdom. HorsePlay Therapy Center utilizes hippotherapy to give physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to children with special needs.Hippotherapy is a technique that utilizes the natural movement of a horse to provide sensory input, often for children or adults with physical and mental disorders.
But, HorsePlay doesn’t stop there. They also provide sessions of equine-assisted therapy (EAT) to the sizable veteran community here in northeast Florida.
St. Johns Council on Aging
St. Augustine would not be the same without these community organizations coming together to help people in need. While they are all incredible, few organizations stand as tall as the St. Johns Council on Aging (COA).
COA has been making an impact on our community for almost 50 years. Since their first year delivering Meals on Wheels to five homebound elders they have grown to deliver 300 Meals on Wheels every day. And that’s just the beginning. They operate 6 senior community centers in St. Johns County and provide classes and activities for elders alongside integral resources for caregivers. COA does not exist to tell people how to age; they trust people to know what’s in their best interest. Their goal is to give help and support that is necessary. Whether it’s writing, exercise, painting classes or simple companionship, COA puts the focus on seniors.
It takes a village, and COA understands that. Their accepted donations are broad, spanning fits of “time, talent, financial resources and friendship”.
Welcome Home to St. Augustine
Whether you’re just started thinking about life in St. Augustine, or if you’ve lived in the Ancient City your entire life, there is always something more to discover. The Newcomer Group cannot wait to share our passion with you. Feel free to check out our up-to-date real estate listings or give us a call at (904) 599-5633.