In reviewing the first 25 years of our organization’s history, we can assert credibly that, in the short term, we have been successful in accomplishing the most important goal: We have been the driving force in “Preserving the Eatonville Community” by protecting the Town from two actions which would have destroyed the historic integrity of this small municipality.
First, our organization “paved the way” for the creation of the lovely streetscape which now runs from just east of the intersection at Wymore Rd and E. Kennedy Blvd. to the eastern boundary of the City of Maitland.
Without our 10-year advocacy, this stretch of roadway would have been turned into a 5-lane asphalt highway.
Our second defense of Eatonville involved protecting the Town from an assault by adult entertainment. It was our leadership which identified experienced counsel, who ultimately was able to protect Eatonville from this undesirable trade.
Additionally, we can point to the success of the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities (ZORA! Festival) as an indicator that Eatonville’s rich heritage and cultural resources is a catalyst for economic development. Our fourth accomplishment comes in the area of education.
Over the past two decades with the extra-curricular programming we have developed, on both a year-round as well as in a summer arts camp setting, families have embraced us because they have seen a qualitative improvement in their children’s academic performance.
Certainly, we have served as a positive force in Eatonville and beyond. Yet, “the jury is still out” as to whether, ultimately, we will have been successful in “Preserving the Eatonville Community;” and frankly, those of us who founded the organization will probably have died before that verdict is rendered. That is because only “Time” will tell if our efforts in the final years of the 20th century will last well into the 21st century and beyond.
There is however one effort which we have recently begun which we believe augurs well for the sustainability of this town. The ZORA! STEM Initiative is“the educational driver for the renaissance of Eatonville.”
Building upon the tradition of educational excellence as represented by the Robert Hungerford Industrial and Normal School, the private boarding school established in 1899 to prepare its graduates for jobs, the ZORA! STEM Initiative will do the same for 21stcentury students.
Eatonville can only survive if our children are prepared to fill the jobs of the 21st century marketplace. If our organization can help to prepare them by developing a “3rd-generation Hungerford,” then we will have made the most valuable contribution possible.
During these 25 years, the lessons we have learned center on the special advantages of being a 501(c )3 non-profit; how we must be flexible; and how we must be willing to work with persons who represent a variety of interests and constituencies.
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