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The new community center for the Spring Hill neighborhood of DeLand — now called the Dr. Joyce M. Cusack Resource Center — has been open for months, but a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration have been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.

Two years ago, The Beacon’s chat with Resource Center Director Shilretha Dixon launched a five-part series on the history of Spring Hill, a predominantly Black neighborhood in southwest DeLand.

The Beacon caught up with Director Dixon recently to discuss new initiatives in the area.

Q: Do you think the national movement on racial injustice has increased interest in the Resource Center?

A: Personally, I think that is because of the hard work and the groundwork done in previous years. It’s just paying off.

Everywhere you look now, the subject is diversity and inclusivity. Doesn’t matter where you look: Everyone is on a committee trying to find out how do we, you know, get unity, or bring about unity within that, which is the same as inclusivity. Being on equal footing.

It doesn’t matter: They all have different names, but the goal is the same. I just think it’s possible because of the groundwork planted years ago. That is, you know, finding some doors.

So things have shifted, and doors are open, and open for conversation, and people are just ready for the move.

I think this center sets precedents for the new Spring Hill. Which is our mission. Our motto here is A New Horizon on the Hill.

Q: What do you see in the community?

A: We are still dealing with some of the same issues. But at least people are talking about it — we’re at the table.

So the next thing will be — how do we put it in the policy? Because we’re talking about it: We’re at the round table. That’s progress, because first you have to admit there’s a problem, before change can occur.

We’re at the table now; people are not afraid to address the issue of inequality. So now, I guess the next step will be how do we put it into policy? How does that work, and what does that look like?

Ongoing Spring Hill Resource Center Programs:

  • Sickle Cell Anemia awareness
  • Women EMPOWER Women – four themed weeks with events and education
  • Cooking Classes (in partnership with the Florida Department of Health) – Community Cooking Classes are an opportunity for residents to share their family recipes to the wider community. Attendees will be entered in a raffle for a free Pressure Cooker with recipes. Upcoming dates: Jan. 20, Feb. 3, Feb. 17 and March 3.
  • Listening Circles (in partnership with the Mainstreet Vision Crew) – Participants receive a $50 stipend for committing their time to sharing their stories and making space to discuss community issues. Upcoming Dates: February 4th, February 18th, March 4th, March 18th.


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