On Good Friday, the Ebonwood Homeowners Association (HOA) and their Senior group hosted a community Easter celebration, and the community showed up. Young and old came and participated in one way or another in the day’s festivities. The day wasn’t only about the Easter eggs it was another way for the HOA and the Seniors to give back to the community. Each child left with a gift, and there was plenty of food for everyone.
At the start of the celebration Leroy Williams, founder, and president of the Pensacola Community Arts and Recreation Association (PCARA), shared, “Last year we had over 118 children spend ten weeks with us, and they had one of their best summers. But we have to go back to where it all started, it all started as a vision from Commissioner May who said, ‘our kids and our seniors in our community will get attention, they will have a place to go, they will need.’ And he opened up doors of opportunity for children and our seniors.”
After being introduced by Williams, Luman May, District 3 County Commissioner, told the crowd, “When I ran for office I was startled that we didn’t have afterschool programs, we didn’t have summer programs, we didn’t have Easter egg hunts, we didn’t have Christmas giveaways. We had a beautiful building, we had invested a ton of money in the infrastructure, but we had forgotten to invest in our greatest assets, our children and our seniors.” With input and encouragement from the Ebonwood HOA, May and his team worked to find allocations of money to get the program funded.
The day also included a short program with some of the young people sharing what Easter is really about and a member of the Senior group telling the Easter story. Just as the young people were starting to get restless, the program was over, and the Easter egg hunt began.
Before the festivities started Frank Cotton, Joseph Miller, Dorothy McMillian and Williams took some time to speak with me regarding what they do. According to Cotton, “we rent this space out on the weekends and during the week, the seniors and our youth use the space. All of that money goes back into the center. What we are doing today comes from the money we collect when we rent the center out” and a local neighborhood business.
Miller adds, “We have something happening here year round. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and much more. We are working on the park, and it’s open to anyone in Escambia County. At the end of the year, we give our children a day to play on the rented bouncer and water slide.“These are the real heroes of the center. They keep everything going and they keep everyone in line. Without their hard work and dedication, we could not serve the community like we do.” Williams stated.
According to McMillian, “The Senior Program started at the end of October last year. We go out to eat together, we attended Leroy’s (Williams) play. Wednesday they put on a play, and it was great. We stay active. I have our scheduled lined up until June. We are on a mission, ‘Keep It Moving’. We are seasoned women and we have to give our best.”She also adds “it takes everyone to make this program work. We fit together like pieces of a puzzle.” With her Christian values at the helm, McMillian’s puzzle is coming together, and it’s looking great.