Local Artist and Photographer Bring Strength To Battered Community

Courtesy of Casey Jones and Saint Augustine Strong foundation

By Alex Strom | gargoyle@flagler.edu
Hurricane Matthew ripped through the Northeast of Florida, leading a former Flagler college graduate, and student to the forefront of bring a battered community to come together.

John West, 23, a graphic designer and local artist, and Casey Jones, 23, a photographer and student at Flagler College, started Saint Augustine Strong, a foundation for Hurricane Matthew victims. The foundation was put together to help people, who have lost nearly everything in the storm, by raising money for those in need.

“Saint Augustine Strong started when Casey Jones and myself decided we had to come together and help people that lost everything during the hurricane.  Helping the community being our mission,” said West.

“This is a town that has given both of us so many unforgettable experiences and opportunities, and it really wasn’t even a topic that we discussed. John and I immediately knew that we were in a position to do something that can really impact our community in a positive way,” said Jones.

Not only are West and Jones helping a community recover, but West too had fallen victim to Hurricane Matthew. “I received just over three feet of water inside the house I was living in. Lost my bed, dresser, desk, artwork and clothes,” said West. Both men evacuated their locations safely before the brunt of the storm hit.

“I decided something needed to be done when I received a text from my roommate the day after the storm passed letting me know that we lost everything that was in the house that we were living in. Inside of feeling sorry for myself, I decide that there had to be a reason to rise up and make difference,” said West.

Saint Augustine Strong has already raised thousands of dollars (Exact Number Here) for hurricane victims since being established. The site, saintaugustinestrong.com allows people to donate, and also buy merchandise. The foundation is donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the victims, and non-profit organizations. “Organizations such as the St. Francis House and the Florida First Coast Relief Fund will be our primary locations to fund,” said Jones.

“Unfortunately the answer is innumerable, but the response that we’ve received from the community has been overwhelming and so far we’ve raised thousands to help our friends, neighbors and our community,” said Jones.

“We have done multiple beach clean-ups and participated in a Trunk or Treat where we set up at The Alligator Farm and gave out candy to the kids that lost their neighborhood,” said West. “The community has come together so much.  After the storm there was so many people helping move the houses belongs out to the street. Aiding people with cases of water, food and shelter,” said West.

Courtesy of Casey Jones and Saint Augustine Strong foundation

Courtesy of Casey Jones and Saint Augustine Strong foundation

Saint Augustine Strong has also partnered up with Flagler College softball and St. Augustine high school football. “Saint Augustine Strong has also aligned with St. Augustine High School to help raise money by selling T-shirts at the football games. We also aligned with Flagler Softball where that had STA Strong printed on the back of their jersey to spread awareness,” Said West.

Saint Augustine Strong in the short time of their existence has helped aid so many people in the community, a community that has been brought down and torn apart. Although this community has been knocked down, Saint Augustine Strong has helped make this community rise up and come together, and give the people hope for a brighter future.

(Quote From person, or persons that they have helped in the community)

“We’ve been able to witness the growth of how the community has accepted it and through our designs completely embrace the movement we stand behind. We’ve connected with many local businesses who have been extremely supportive of this community and what it represents and there is no doubt in my mind that St. Augustine will rebuild, and rebuild stronger than ever before”, said Jones.

With the holidays right around the corner Saint Augustine Strong plans on being involved. “We also plan on donating turkeys for Thanksgiving,” said West. Saint Augustine Strong is giving people of community a breath of fresh air, bringing smiles to faces all across the community, even during a holiday season that maybe rough for some of those effected.

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