- September 19, 2019
More than 400 people attended Family Renew Community’s ice cream social on Sunday, May 21. This year marked the organization’s return to St. James Episcopal Church for the event since the pandemic began, and turnout — tracked with wristbands provided at entry — exceeded organizers’ expectations.
The event supports Family Renew Community, founded by a group of 18 Volusia churches in 1989. There are 21 churches involved now, along with hundreds of volunteers.
Family Renew Community celebrated its 30th annual ice cream social at St. James before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.
The event was moved online for a couple of years, but it was hard to serve ice cream over video chat, said Denise O’Toole Kelly, acting executive director for Family Renew Community. Family Renew Community rebranded the event last year as a family fun event, but many people said they missed the ice cream social.
The ice cream social raises money for Family Renewal Community’s mission — “to provide a safe, stable home for homeless families with children and equip them with the tools they need to be self-sufficient,” Kelly said.
Family Renew Community has 32 apartments in Holly Hill, Daytona Beach and DeLand for homeless families.
The families aren’t expected to pay rent or utilities, but must save 50% of their income to move into permanent housing.
Tenants must be employed or employable, and the organization helps them find jobs, higher positions and job training.
“We are really interested in working on whatever lead them to their homelessness. We want to address this issue so once they leave us, they will never be homeless again,” Kelly said.
There are at least 1000 homeless families in Volusia County.
“We as a community need to support our families in order to be a strong community,” Kelly said. “When families are homeless in our community, the whole community struggles.”
The event offered ice cream along with homemade cakes and cookies, a silent auction, and a vendor area including a jewelry show, fairy hair booth and pop-up St. James’ thrift store. It also included a DJ, balloon twisting, face painting, a bounce house, and games and activities for all ages.