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Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 2:40PM

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When we heard they were throwing a party at Latitude Margaritaville, the Jimmy Buffett-themed community for 55-and-older residents under construction on the north side of LPGA Boulevard just west of Interstate 95, we knew we had to go.

We weren’t the only ones. More than 200 people came out last night for the Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce’s After Hours event at the development’s sales center — the largest crowd the chamber’s events director, Ken Phelps, could recall ever coming out for one of the monthly mixers.

There were great hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Carefree Catering, plus wine, beer, soft drinks and, of course, margaritas. The impressive building holds architectural models depicting the expansive site, planned to eventually include 6,900 homes, and all of its resort-style amenities, from pools and tennis courts to a bar and grill, fitness club and theater. A private, oceanfront beach club for residents, with shuttle service, to be built in Ormond-by-the Sea has its own 3D display. Prospective residents who visit the sales center also can imagine themselves in the lifestyle by posing for photos behind the wheel of the golf cart.

But none of that was our driving reason for being there. We wanted a chance to convey an in-person thank you for the generosity already being bestowed locally by Latitude Margaritaville’s developer, Minto. Family Renew Community in December received a $5,000 grant from the Minto Foundation to fund scholarships for vocational education for parents in the homeless families we serve. Programs that can be completed in a relatively short span of time can prepare parents working in low-wage jobs for careers in better-paying, high-demand fields ranging from medical assisting to truck driving. The opportunity to enroll is these programs could be life-changing, not just for the individuals who receive the scholarships but for their entire families.

“Since establishing Minto Communities, our family business, in South Florida in early 1978, we have seen an increase in the number of families as well as individuals who, for various reasons not necessarily within their control, find themselves unable able to keep up with basic needs making it through each day,” Kenneth J. Greenberg wrote in the award letter. “Our family, as well as is in our corporate credo, believes very strong in the philosophy of ‘giving back’ to the communities in which we conduct business.”

Thank you, Minto! Family Renew Community is very glad you are doing business here. Fins up!

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