You only get one chance every 10 years to start a new decade.

As we put the wraps on the decade of the 2010’s here in Osceola County, we’re asking local officials and “movers ‘n shakers” to reflect on the last year of this one and the first one of the new decade, the “Roaring ’20s”, and how we’re going to best usher it in.

Rev. Mary Downey is CEO of the Community Hope Center, which works to provide needed services to the homeless and disenfranchised in Osceola County.

Mary founded her non-profit in 2013, and has an amazing team around her at the CHC that endlessly and tirelessly provides care, and a necessary support system, for those families in need. She is adamant there are ‘forever homes’ for them, and it’s her mission to explore the options to get them there, whether it’s grants for deposits – or building the housing themselves.

Here are her thoughts on the past year, the one upcoming and what the scope of her work might look like when we do this again in 2029.

What were the Community Hope Center’s biggest wins in 2019?

I’m most proud of how many families we were able to get into housing. We housed 59 families, and got the last family out of their hotel and gave them the keys to their apartment on Christmas Eve. Thousands of people picked up their new IDs in order to get their jobs and sustain their food insecurities, all those things we normally do, I’m most proud of those things.

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
“We’re going to continue provide opportunities to get people into sustainable housing. We’ve got the re-zoning now for our new housing development, so we’re looking at 2020 as the year we see that project grow. We will we closer to breaking ground at the end of the year than now, as there’s a lot of work to do and processes to happen. In the meantime, we have goals to house more families and have our iDignity events, and keep doing the work we’ve been doing.

When you look at the end of the next decade, how will how you go about your mission look different?
“It’s my hope that in 10 years time, we’ll see neighborhoods along this corridor, and the people who work in Osceola County have the chance to also play in Osceola County and build community, and the Hope Center wants to be a part of that. I hope we have stronger industry and awareness to other job opportunities. That we can come up with a strategy to build housing across the entire spectrum of need, from blue-collar workers to executives.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to bring awareness and attention to the issues we’re struggling with, that there are no quick fixes and it may take 10 years to provide full solutions to the issues in our community. Those take strategies that take longer than a year to achieve. I hope we continue the good work in building strategies so Osceola County looks like a thriving community.”

Positively Osceola would like to thank Reverend Mary Lee Downey for her tireless passion for those in need, and for her amazing team that never grows weary in well-doing. Your are all making a Positive Difference in Osceola County… every day.