After a decade of offering a hand up to families experiencing homelessness in coastal Volusia County, Family Renew Community’s leadership entered the 21st century with an eye toward the west. The patient and prayerful wait for the right opportunity to serve families in DeLand came in 2001, with a gift from DeLand residents Tom and Linda O’Quinn.
An apartment building they had owned for about 20 years at 259 W. Voorhis Ave. was the perfect site to house seven families with children and provide office space for a social services professional to help them lift themselves out of homelessness. Linda O’Quinn turned over the keys to Family Renew on a late summer day.
“We’ve been looking for property in West Volusia for about two years — there’s a real need over there,” Claris Mac’Kie, then executive director of Family Renew, told The Daytona Beach News-Journal for a story published Sept. 4, 2001. “But we needed to find the right property with a suitable arrangement of living units. We do intensive case management as well as offer shelter and there had to be room for those kinds of services as well. This was offered to us and we are very excited about it. We are really, really pleased.”
Linda O’Quinn had been managing the apartment building, which tended to serve families in poverty whose rent was subsidized by the federal government. Linda, a nurse with a social services background, came to realize the families needed more than a roof over their heads. “I knew about the kind of work Family Renew is doing to assist people as they try to re-establish their lives in a positive way.”
The building, dating to 1959, needed work. Because a westward expansion had been contemplated for some time, Family Renew’s board of trustees had budgeted funds to cover much of the work. Following a model of faith-based support that was successful for the existing Holly Hill and Daytona Beach campuses, the project benefited from the generosity of three DeLand churches: First Presbyterian Church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and St. Peter Catholic Church.
The first residents moved in in early 2002, a milestone also covered by the local media, including The News-Journal. Family Renew Community reached the capacity to house 32 homeless families with children at any given time.
Seventeen years later, the congregations of the three churches remain involved, contributing not only financial support and representation on the board of trustees, but also hands-on work to prepare an apartment for each new family and otherwise meet families’ needs on the journey out of homelessness. St. Peter Catholic Church also donates space for an Ice Cream Social & Silent Auction fundraiser presented by Family Renew’s westside board members each spring.
The O’Quinns, whose business interests include O’Quinn Insurance Services in Ormond Beach, also remain supportive of Family Renew Community. While she and Tom volunteered at this year’s Ice Cream Social at St. Peter recently, Linda coyly revealed a tidbit about the building they gifted to Family Renew. Before they acquired it, she said, the building bore no slight resemblance to an old western saloon: drinking, gambling and hanky panky for hire.
It seems what is now a place of hope and restoration was once a house of ill-repute.
This is the third in a series. To read the previous stories and see 30th anniversary bonus content, CLICK HERE.