Elizabeth

Elizabeth Walker — Elizabeth Sarah Collections

In 2005, Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, traded the snowy mountains of Aspen, Colorado for Florida’s beautiful coast. Walker said the two had always wanted to work as independent artists, but never knew the journey would be so hard, yet so rewarding. They eventually settled in Atlantic Beach, which they loved for the welcoming atmosphere and support for the arts. Today, as jewelry designer and artist, Walker owns her own company, which you can find at elizabethsarahcollections.com or in various retail stores around the U.S.

What does freedom mean to you?

“Creative expression is freedom. It’s something that keeps me hungry for more. Working as an artist and jewelry designer has been my lifelong dream, and to be able to work for myself is the most freedom I’ve ever had in my adult life. People ask ‘how does it feel to have finally taken that leap of faith and work for yourself?’ My response every time, is, ‘pinch me.’ I say that because sometimes I can’t believe I’m here. Up until a few months ago, I’ve worked my whole career juggling my jewelry business with other jobs, in fear that I just wasn’t ready. Well I am READY now, and loving every moment of it. That’s about as liberating and free as I’ve ever felt in my whole life.”

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Ben Sykes and Scotty Jones — Well Water International

Jacksonville locals Scotty and Ben shared desire to help others brought them to starting the non-profit, Well Water International. The duo said they do it because they are passionate about the world water crisis, the largest global risk to society. They aren’t in it for the recognition though, as these two find the reward in helping those in need. For additional information or to donate, you can visit wellwaterint.com.

What does freedom mean to you? 

“That is a loaded question. Freedom is a right that has been forged by the sacrifice of selfless men and women, who devoted themselves to a cause greater than their own. It is an opportunity to live your life and express your beliefs void of the fear of being persecuted or even killed for those beliefs. Our country is an obvious example of this type of freedom. People fled nations to experience that freedom, people fought for this nation to keep that freedom, and as our country has grown, that freedom has transcended through civil rights, gender equality and political barriers. Ultimately, being Christians, the greatest freedom that we experience is the freedom and grace we have through a relationship with Christ.”

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Jonathan and Shari Berkowitz — 4Freedom Apparel

Jonathan and Shari came to Jacksonville four years ago after being relocated to Mayport. Shari told us that one day when Jonathan was getting dressed, he realized the American flag shirt he was putting on was actually made in Peru, and after looking through more of his patriotic clothing, he realized none of it was made in the U.S. It was that moment the pair decided to create a brand of patriotic apparel made in America, taking it a step further by donating to different veteran’s or first responder’s nonprofits each month. You can find their truly American apparel at 4freedomapparel.com.

What does freedom mean to you? 

“When I hear the word freedom, the American flag is the first thing that comes to mind. I think of it as a symbol of freedom and of those who have fought to protect our freedoms. I think of the great fortune we have to live in a country which allows us the freedom to be unique, and the freedom to succeed. In America, we have the freedom to be independent, and because we are free, we alone decide if we will succeed or if we will fail. We choose who will be part of our story, what religion we will practice, what to do with our spare time, who to help along the way and how we act or react to what life throws our way. Freedom is having all of these rights regardless of our age, race, gender or any other personal attribute. Freedom means the ability to create your own story. Freedom and America are synonymous to me, and I couldn’t be more proud and thankful to be a free American.”

This article was originally published in the 2016 Freedom Issue.