The pandemic has affected the lives of many in our community. Downtown businesses are rebounding, but long food lines are still common as people struggle to make ends meet.
Local nonprofit agencies that serve the poor and the homeless have never been more important than during the past 18 months. They are a lifeline to those who saw their incomes and savings plummet.
Family Renew Community is one of those agencies.
Since 1989, Family Renew Community has been providing transitional housing and support services to homeless families with children while parents work to save money and ready themselves to move into permanent housing of their own.
Although services typically last about six months, the benefits of the program are life-changing for both parents and their children. The goal is to break the cycle of poverty, with many of the parents returning to school and finding better-paying jobs.
The pandemic has tested the resilience of residents who lost their jobs as well as the Family Renew Community staff, including Kim Bandorf, who oversees the DeLand seven-unit apartment complex and keeps in touch with many former residents.
Since March 2020, 12 families with 26 children have resided at the DeLand campus. They were assisted with clothing, food, personal-hygiene items, cleaning supplies, diapers, budgeting and parenting classes, and holiday meals and gifts for the children.
Current and former residents were connected with job sites and other community resources, tax-preparation assistance, food-pantry locations, and COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.
Staff helped unemployed clients find jobs and navigate the journey of virtual school for their children and themselves, and then helped navigate returning to classroom learning.
Ms. Bandorf spoke of a former client with a desire to get a better education and ultimately a higher-paying job. Ms. Bandorf discussed options with the client, assisted with admission and financial-aid applications, and gave the client information to make an appointment for an interview at Daytona State College.
Three days later, the client, who is a single mom with four children who has been on her own for over a year, was enrolled in a two-year hospitality program starting in August.
“Just to see her face and experience her excitement made my heart sing,” Ms. Bandorf said. “We are the safety net for many of the families who graduate from our program. It’s rewarding to see their hard work pay off.”
Family Renew Community depends on fundraising. For the second consecutive year, the annual DeLand Family Renew Community Ice Cream Social & Silent Auction Fundraiser cannot be held.
But, a virtual silent auction will take place May 8-16 with more than 50 items available, including gift cards to some of DeLand’s finest restaurants; passes to Disney, Universal and Kennedy Space Center; a two-night stay at a beach resort; golf packages and much more.
Please contact Denise O’Toole Kelly, Family Renew Community development director, if you have questions, at 386-239-0861.
— Early is a volunteer fundraiser with Family Renew Community.