Over the next two weeks, I want to share some of my personal thoughts with you about the issues of this campaign. Please take a moment and read about important issues that affect you each day.
If you have read my opponent’s flyers, you would think that she is an expert on homelessness and poverty and has been for years. Unfortunately, the truth is it’s just campaign rhetoric that trivializes the hard work many of us have done, including my tenure at Christian Service Center.
I took over the Christian Service Center for Central Florida 22 years ago, an organization that has helped the homeless and impoverished since 1971. Since that time, we have served more than 4,000,000 meals in our kitchens, through our local offices and in our school pantries (serving 68 schools). I have met with countless individuals who are in need, attended more meetings than I can count, and talked with hundreds of local faith leaders and local officials about how to make our community better.
Long before deciding to run for city council, Mayors Hood and Dyer asked me to chair the City’s Working Committee on Homelessness, eventually writing Orlando’s definitive plan of action for addressing this very difficult issue. We proposed 21 major recommendations. After getting elected in 2006, I asked Mayor Dyer if I could take the initiative to make this plan happen. He agreed and off we went!
Now, Orlando has been transformed into a model for addressing this significant community issue. From creating the Regional Commission on Homelessness to the latest innovations surrounding Permanent Supportive Housing, all ideas I recommended years ago. We have “kept our heads down” and worked to address homelessness. It has been difficult, challenging, and rewarding…but it has also taken a long time to bring all of our community’s stakeholders together to get to where we are today.
There is still more to do. There are people on the streets and families in crisis. We have made progress but we need to work on more job training, better education, and greater access of local transportation. It takes more than just words on a flyer to make our community better. It takes someone who won’t or hasn’t given up. Let’s solve this issue with sound thinking and creative ideas.