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Community unity: There’s a whole lot of that going on these days in the Spring Hill area of DeLand, and it sure is exciting to see!

Spring Hill has always had a strong sense of community. In the past year, the county has tapped into that wellspring with a community-engagement initiative funded by a $299,800 grant from the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund. 

A big part of the impetus has been to address flooding problems in Spring Hill that have negatively impacted lives and livelihoods. But this is so much more than that, forging a broad coalition that’s working to bring more training, mentoring and job opportunities to Spring Hill.

Already, there have been community-engagement meetings, youth outreach, training sessions to teach marketable skills such as landscaping and green-industries best-management practices, a four-week citizens academy that emphasized business skills and community resiliency, and a training workshop for local government officials on racial equity. 

Another job fair and citizens academy, more training opportunities and two green-infrastructure planting projects are all in the works.

I’m honored to be participating in this process, with the long-range goal of helping to build a more cohesive, equitable and sustainable community that works to promote unity and opportunity. 

It’s an ambitious agenda that so far has generated a great deal of community involvement, as well as support from a great many partners, including the City of DeLand and the Spring Hill Resource Center, Barry University, the Lacey Family/Spring Hill Boys & Girls Club, Stetson University, the University of Florida and our local clergy.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back the timetable for some of these initiatives, it hasn’t dampened the excitement, enthusiasm and passion to push forward. For those who haven’t been involved, there’s still time. You can contact Volusia County Environmental Management or the Spring Hill Resource Center to find out how to take part.

Thank you to the residents and businesses in Spring Hill, the county staff at Environmental Management and all of our local partners for showing us how to work together and effectively engage and advocate for the needs in our community.

This is how we address issues, get things done, and pave the way to a brighter future!

— Girtman is a member of the Volusia County Council



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