In every issue of Positively Osceola Weekly, Positively Osceola features a leader in the community that is focused on solutions to challenges in the Osceola County community. In this issue, we are featuring Reverend Mary Downey and sharing a message she recently shared with the community.

A Moment with Reverend Mary Downey, CEO, and Founder of Hope Partnership

February is Black History Month. If you are following Hope Partnership on social media, you’ve noticed that we are embracing the gifts and greatness of the black community. We are celebrating and highlighting the stories and legacy of the Black community, whose presence and impact matter not just in February but all year long. As we are committing ourselves to the long-term work of equity, we are also using our voices to tell the hard truths that systemic racism continues to exist in this country and that supremacy culture is so pervasive and ingrained that most Americans don’t even realize it exists. Even when we begin to see it, it is a life-long process of unlearning and relearning.

We envision a world without homelessness and poverty, and our work to make that world a reality often puts us face-to-face with the effects of systemic racism. We have a long history in this country of slavery, segregation, red-lining, prejudiced lending policies, white flight, devaluation of black homes and neighborhoods, discrimination in hiring and employment, poorly operated public housing, and a long list of other failures that continue to harm the black community. People of color continue to be drastically over-represented in our chronically homeless population. It comes down to this: racism is a housing issue, and housing is a racism issue.

If you’ve made the choice to join us in making sure that everyone has a safe place to call home, then I hope you will also join us in our work toward racial justice.

Mary Lee Downey

CEO Founder, Hope Partnership

Black HistoryFrom Hope Partnership…
While we dream of a world where all groups of people are celebrated, and all of the uniqueness of each of our voices contribute toward a world of justice and peace, we know that that is not the case today. In reality, our history has continually erased and diminished the contributions and voices of our Black neighbors, their rich impact on our society, and how injustices of the past also continue to painfully reverberate in ways that impact our Black and Brown neighbors. This is why we celebrate Black History Month.

At Hope Partnership we believe that Racial Equity is Housing Equity is Equity for all. As we have continued to grow as an organization, one of our commitments is to continue to do the work of Equity and Justice in new and intentional ways. One of the ways we are doing that is through Education. You may have seen our recent video series one Homelessness 101. This month we are celebrating cultures and histories of the Black community, learning oft-forgotten histories, and being challenged on how we can be people about the work of justice all year. We hope you have been able to access these resources through our social media and that you will continue to engage these prompts as we finish out this month! Interested in giving hope? Join Hope Partnership in doing so.

To learn about how Hope Partnership helps make a positive difference in and around Osceola County visit