On Tuesday night, the fellowship Hall next to Hope Commons in Kissimmee was filled with community leaders, elected officials, and members of the community, all coming together to celebrate 10 years of Hope Partnership’s accomplishments, and to support the organization in continuing its mission of ensuring that everyone has a safe place to call home.

Hope Partnership empowers neighbors, strengthening community, and builds hope, something we should all be doing every day, and as CEO Reverend Mary Lee Downey said during the 10th anniversary celebration, it doesn’t happen without the community’s help, “I’m incredibly proud of the partners that are in this room who have stood along-side us and said that they also believe that the world can be different. It takes belief to say that we do not have to have poverty or homelessness in our community, and the people in this room believe that with us, and that is a gift.”

From their beginning, Hope Partnership, then called Hope Community Center,  was a two-person operation consisting of Founder and Chief Executive Officer Rev. Mary Lee Downey, and Chief Development Officer Angie Rench. At the 10-year mark, the organization has a team of almost 30 and has has served over 100,000 heartbeats with housing, food, clothing, and a variety of services including Identification, employment, and case management.

“We thank you all for supporting us, for supporting Mary 10 years ago, and the work that is so important in our community and throughout Central Florida,” Hope Partnership Chair Adriana Sekula said during the anniversary event.

“And now we look at the future, today is, crazily enough, the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, and the law in 1968, was supposed to address the inequities that are in our nation that have kept so many of our neighbors from finding a safe place to call home,” Mary Lee Downey shared during the event. It’s a half a century later, and we’re still struggling with the same barriers.”

During the anniversary reception, a representative from State Representative Kristen Arrington’s office presented Reverend Downey with a tribute, and thanked Hope Partnership for their hard and commitment to the community.

As Downey spoke to those at the reception she told a story of the early years when she told her board members that they would never be involved with housing, or become a housing organization, but currently, Hope Partnership is closing in on the goal of converting an old hotel into 34 attainable housing units for those that are the most vulnerable in the community, certainly a testimony to the willingness of the Hope Partnership to “pivot’ in order  to meet the needs of the community.

Reverend Downey received a stout round of applause when she shared with the crowd that when the current hotel conversion  project is complete, they’ll be going on to the next one!

“We want to make sure that we are part of the solution in this community, and that means that we have stepped into the realm of housing developer, Downey said during the anniversary reception. “We are so grateful for each of you, and grateful for this time, and I am grateful, thank you.”

In addition to the reception to commemorate the milestone, Hope Partnership began its 10 years, 10 days, 10K fundraising campaign April 11. If you would like to donate, please use this link. https://bit.ly/10Y10D10K