Big Bend Cares Showcases New Medical Facility

On the evening of June 27, The Donald L. Tucker Civic Center was the venue for the most colorful event in Tallahassee. That night, Big Bend Cares hosted the 17th Annual Artopia Art Auction. The auction, which has become a Tallahassee tradition, features art in media including painting, photography, sculpture, decorative items, jewelry and more. The art is sold through both silent and live auctions.

This year’s celebration exceeded every benchmark in the book: A record $75,000 was raised, a 20 percent increase over 2014; ticket sales and attendance were the highest in the history of the event; and more corporate sponsors than ever stepped up to support Big Bend Cares and its mission to provide HIV/AIDS prevention services and compassionate care for those in our community affected by the disease.

Big Bend Cares Deputy Executive Director Charlie Adams said the event could not have been so successful without the support of the artists, sponsors, and attendees.

“This year, we increased our efforts to thank donating artists through promoting the Tallahassee fine art community at large. Our Artopians are incredibly generous and caring people, and every year they open their hearts with the gift of art,” he said. “They deserve the community’s support in return.”

As part of that support, Big Bend Cares presented the Artopia 2015 Featured Artist Series, a set of mini-documentaries about select artists. The Featured Artist Series can be viewed at or on the Big Bend Cares YouTube page.

While the artists opened their hearts, participants opened their wallets, purchasing a record $15,000 worth of art in the rousing live auction conducted by Malcolm Mason and the crew from Manor Auctions.

Corporate sponsors included Mail-Meds, AutoDataDirect, PSBI, the Southeastern Center for Infectious Diseases, BKJ Architecture, Bevis Funeral Home, Clear Health Alliance, Hopping Green & Sams, Centennial Bank, NAI Talcor, 7Hills Communications, and Copyfax 2000.

At Artopia, Big Bend Cares also presented the first public screening of a virtual tour of the new primary care medical facility the agency is constructing. The much needed new center, designed by BKJ Architecture, will be located on South Monroe St., directly across from Big Bend Cares’ current home.

Bonnie Johnson, President of BKJ Architecture, said designing the primary care center was an important project for her firm.

“It is BKJ’s honor to be the architect for Big Bend Cares’ new facility,” she said. “The 27,000 square foot building will allow for the efficient delivery of needed medical services while simultaneously improving the aesthetics and character of South Monroe Street.”

Big Bend Cares CEO Rob Renzi said he’s delighted about the new facility.

“What we’re creating is a patient-centered medical home,” said Renzi. “It’s designed specifically to make it easy for clients to receive needed medical care in a single, convenient location. Being able to provide comprehensive services in one place can only improve the overall public health in our community.”

For the civic minded, sponsorships are available to help finance the facility. Donors can sponsor portions of the facility, which will be permanently dedicated to them or a designee. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for the new medical center, contact Rob Renzi at 656-2437, extension 240.

Big Bend Cares does an amazing job of serving some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and the annual Artopia fundraiser is vital to continuing that good work. Join them next summer for Artopia 2016, partake of the amazing deals on quality fine art, and help to improve the quality of life for everyone here in the place we call home.