- November 13, 2020
Helping homeless families is a tradition for an Ormond Beach family. Tom Ritzi, of Ritzi Jewelers, helped start Family Renew Community in 1989, and now, his grandson, Colin Gray, has been named treasurer for 2019, the 30th anniversary of the organization.
Family Renew Community stabilizes homeless families or single parents with children by providing them with temporary housing and helping them become self-supporting.
Tom Ritzi’s widow, Ann Ritzi, was at the Family Renew annual luncheon Nov 29 when the new officers were sworn in, including Gray.
“I told Colin that his grandfather is smiling down on him right now,” she said.
She believes her husband, who died in 2014, is happy to see the family connection continue.
“Tom had a heart for homeless people,” she said.
Gray, also of Ormond Beach, has been on the board of Family Renew for several years and looks forward to being more involved.
“It’s my duty to carry on what my grandfather started,” he said. "We’re very excited about the team we have in place. We want to make sure we have amazing projects to help these families.”
He plans to use his skills as a financial planner in his role. One of the new innovations is monthly giving, where people can have money automatically donated.
Family Renew was founded by the late Father Lawrence Redmond, pastor of Prince of Peace Catholic Church, who asked Tom Ritzi to help him develop his idea to help homeless families.
Cindy Ritzi, Tom’s daughter and Colin Gray's mother, said Father Redmond recognized Ritzi’s business acumen, and asked him to write a business plan. She remembers going with her father to churches in the area to solicit sponsorships. He was successful in getting 18 churches to get the project started.
Gray said it was unheard of at the time.
“He got together 18 churches, different denominations, all with a common goal,” he said.
Family Renew was a family project for many years. Tom Ritzi was the president for the first five years. Cindy Ritzi has been involved with fund-raising through the years and she has a picture of Colin at the age of three, sitting in front of the first Family Renew facility in Holly Hill. The whole family was involved in restoring an old motel for family housing.
Gray remembers the ice cream socials, which continue to be one of the biggest fundraisers.
“I thought they were great as a kid,” he said. “You could have all the ice cream and cake you could eat.”
He also remembers attending the board meetings, saying his grandfather was always either giving or receiving an award.
THE SECRET ATTIC
An important fund-raising source for Family Renew is the Secret Attic Thrift Shop, located in Granada Plaza. In addition to raising money, the donations of household items furnish all 32 resident families. Denise O’Toole Kelly, development director, said when families move out of Family Renew, they are allowed to take everything except beds and major appliances, so new donations are always needed.
Area churches still support the organization, but O’Toole Kelly said there is no faith-based component in the programs.
“Our faith is our motivation for what we do,” she said.
Their main source of financial support comes from individual donors. They currently have a drive to raise $30,000 by the end of the year, and had raised $21,000 as of Dec. 15.
The Ormond Beach churches that presently support Family Renew are: Calvary Christian Center, Christ Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Ormond Beach Presbyterian, Prince of Peace, Riverview United Methodist, St. Brendan Catholic Church, St. James Episcopal, Temple Beth-El, Tomoka United Methodist and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ormond Beach.
HIGH SUCCESS RATE
Case managers help parents with job seeking and identify skills or education they need, such as budgeting classes.
“We’re a hand-up not a hand-out,” O’Toole Kelly said.
On Jan. 20, 2017, the organization started tracking families and have found that 96% of those helped since then still have stable housing. They plan to continue tracking to watch the success rate long term.
“They are doing a really good job,” Cindy Ritzi said.
O’Toole Kelly said they plan several events for their 30th anniversary year, including open houses.
Family Renew Community has residences in Holly Hill, Daytona Beach and DeLand. The administrative office is at 810 Ridgewood Ave., Holly Hill. Visit familyrenew.org or call 386-239-0861.
“He got together 18 churches, different denominations, all with a common goal.”
COLIN GRAY, on the work of his grandfather Tom Ritzi