Tony Nasrallah

Tony Nasrallah

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Tony Nasrallah, founder and president of Murray Hill Concert Theatre & Café, a music and arts venue and 501(c)3 charity, was intrigued when he first heard about Project SOS, Inc. Like his theatre, Project SOS is also a charity aimed to positively impact youth; it strives to strengthen families by empowering parents and educating teens to make healthy life choices. Project SOS also offers programs for couples and youth and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

“I’m around young people at the theatre all the time and I heard them talking about SOS It sounded like a great concept…presenting large school assemblies where young adults close to their age would talk to kids about life choices, options, the influences of pop culture and the impact of their choices,” he said. “I decided to go check out a presentation for myself, which happened to be at Orange Park High School. I was impressed. My organization and SOS really have a similar message…reaching kids with positive choices and alternatives.”
Nasrallah met Project SOS founder Pam Mullarkey and became a longtime supporter, volunteer and six-year board member for Project SOS He is a firm believer in their message of outreach to as many youth as possible and the value of their varied programs.

The Murray Hill Theatre, which Nasrallah refers to as his “passion” in life, opened in 1995 in the historic old theatre located on Edgewood Avenue. It is considered the oldest faith-based nightclub in the U.S. The venue showcases live music and artistic performances and is alcohol, drug and smoke-free for all ages. It features a state-of-the-art sound and light system and Fringe Café. The Café offers lunch Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Tuesday to Sunday 6 p.m. to midnight. Nasrallah’s goal was to create a safe alternative to typical nightclubs and to present faith-based entertainment in a positive atmosphere open to all.

Tony, a native of Jacksonville, and his wife Anne have been married 28 years. They lived in Avondale before moving to Ortega Forest and are the parents of two sons, Ben, 22 and Jonathan, 20. The boys both show every sign of carrying on the family tradition of caring for others. Jonathan is a junior at Florida State University where he participates in Young Life activities. Ben receives a living stipend to work with City Year Jacksonville at Andrew Jackson High School. City Year, a national charitable organization, partners with public schools to support at-risk students so they will stay in school and complete their educations. Ben has also been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and the Sanctuary on 8th Street.

Anne and Tony are a team when it comes to the theatre, hosting visiting band members and supporting the mission. Tony’s main focus is on the theatre, but he also owns a business, First Coast A & A Enterprises. He plays on a men’s over-forty soccer league and is a member of the Jacksonville Ultimate Frisbee League. Anne, who holds a degree in genetics, plays piano and viola. She has tutored elementary children her entire life and is currently a volunteer tutor at Andrew Jackson High School.

The Nasrallahs support Hosannah House Christian Home for Teenage Girls, where Tony serves on the board and Anne is a volunteer tutor in their homeschool. The couple support St. Mary’s Episcopal Outreach and Contemporary Arts & Mission Project (CAMP).They are heavily involved with their church, St. Johns Presbyterian, where Tony works with the youth program and Anne assists with music. Anne is also a volunteer musician for other churches.

Tony is on the Westside Business Leaders Association Board and is past president of the Murray Hill Preservation Association. He is an at-large board member for the Friends of Murray Hill Library.

Project SOS will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year by holding a comedy and dining fundraiser, Twenty Years of Growing Great Generations of Youth, Mar. 16 at 6 p.m. at Sawgrass Marriott Hotel. The evening will also include entertainment with a silent and live auction in support of Project SOS programs. For tickets, group reservations or more information visit the website at projectsos.com or call
(904) 296-9950.

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