With the new Dr. Joyce M. Cusack Resource Center in the Spring Hill neighborhood of DeLand poised to open in spring, residents and community leaders met recently to discuss what kind of programs they’d like to see the center offer.
They also talked about the fact that there’s no money for furniture for the new facility.
At 910 S. Adelle Ave., the Spring Hill Resource Center has operated out of a former temporary police substation since 2005. It assists upward of 1,000 people a month with everything from résumé-building to applying for local, state and federal assistance.
“There is nothing else that is close — we can’t go to Deltona, to Orange City, to Daytona,” consultant and former Resource Center Administrator Donna Gray-Banks said.
Other community buildings, like the nearby Chisholm Community Center, have become crowded, and cost-prohibitive to rent as meeting spaces, residents said.
“I don’t want [the new center] to be the Chisholm Center or Sanborn Center. The Chisholm was for us, and now we can hardly use it,” former politico and eponymous community leader Joyce Cusack said.
“I know that people in the city and county are highly invested — they want this to be more than a shell,” Volusia County Council At-Large Member Ben Johnson said at the meeting.
The opening of a new, larger facility is a high priority for locals and city and county officials, but it hasn’t been easy.
A funding shortfall of $462,293 for construction nearly torpedoed the plan in May until officials worked out a 25-year loan. Hopes of turning the current resource center into another community facility — like a wellness center, or a local library — were dashed when the cost of observable repairs exceeded $60,000.
The current building is set to be demolished, and discussions have turned to the possibilities of expanding programs at the new facility. But there’s no money for even furnishing the new building.
There is a dedicated health and wellness room, and a full kitchen — but no stove. There’s a dedicated computer room, and computers, but no desks or chairs.
“We got the building — now we have to fill it,” Resource Center Administrator Shilretha Dixon said.
To that end, the Spring Hill Neighborhood Association, which oversees the center, has set up a Spring Hill Resource Center fund.
The situation isn’t new — in fact, it’s what the center does on a daily basis.
“Being resourceful is finding a need and filling it,” community leader Brenda Cusack said.
As to what programs residents want, one of the most-mentioned is the wellness center. Other current programs will continue, and possibly expand, including a food pantry.
“You don’t have to have permanent space, you have to have an ongoing space,” Brenda Cusack said.
Having space to meet, and where residents can pursue their own programs, is essential, leaders and community members said.
“What we’re looking forward to is providing that meeting space for you,” Dixon said.
The new building may be larger, but the funding remains the same — there are only two funded positions at the center; the rest is possible because of a large network of volunteers.
“We would like to make the center open to you to develop the programs,” Dixon told the audience.