Osceola County has needs – like thousands of people with needs. But, as a giving community, there are also groups dedicated to meeting those needs that the people in need can’t on their own at a point in time.
At Monday evening’s Board of Osceola County Commissioners meeting, a story was told that shed light on a handful of them.
Earlier in the week at a fifth anniversary celebration for A Place For Grace, a ministry committed to meeting the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of the St. Cloud Community, a woman named Lori Lipkin told a story of how a network of local non-profits helped point her, like a compass, in the right direction after a life trauma got her far off course.
Commissioner Fred Hawkins asked her to come to Monday’s meeting and share her story.
“When people ask us why we support a lot of the non-profits we do, this story is exactly why, and it happens more often that we now,” he said. “I thought it was important to share how their work is working.”
Lori had everything in order was working her way through a Master’s degree program at Rollins College some years ago, when her mother died in a car accident. That moment sent her world, and life into a tailspin, and after “wrapping (herself) in darkness for years,” and found herself far, far off course.
Years later, after a “wake-up call came and woke me up, I knew it was time to get on with my life,” she said, she had to re-learn how to take care of herself.
“That started my incredible journey with all these community organizations that I cannot say enough about,” she said. “It was humbling to ask for help and feel like I hadn’t deserved it or I had earned it.”
Help Now of Osceola County started it off with counseling in how to, well, live. That led to St. Cloud Food Pantry, who were “kind and so welcoming,” who helped with food and references to others.
Next on the list was A Place For Grace, where she met up with Executive Director Blake Seaholm. There he and others guided her into a class called Empowerment to Employment, where she was introduced to Community Vision, who got her back into a place to get employed again.
“A lot of times I didn’t want to listen, but they pressed me to help myself and face things that were hard and uncomfortable,” she said. “If you aren’t looking, you don’t know that these people are there.”
Through those organizations led to help from the Council on Aging, which exposed Valencia College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Institute. With the continued support of the other agencies that had helped her, she completed an electronic board assembly course and made her way through an interview with Lockheed Martin, where she’s worked now for 10 weeks.
“I pinch myself every night, it’s the most incredible job,” Lori said. “All these people and places made this possible, and I can’t thank them enough. I hope I did them justice.”
Commission Chairwomen Cheryl Grieb said that Lori’s story is why “we up here do a lot of what we do to support the community.
“There are places that can assist get you back on track, because sometimes you get derailed a little bit,” she said. “We have incredible non-profit groups in Osceola County, and that sums it up.”
“There are places to turn,” said Hawkins, who asked for the presentation. “They’re going to make you work, but they’ll inspire you to keep going,” he said.