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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 27, 201212:00 PM EST

Nonprofit CEO Showcase: Lelia Duncan


President and CEO, Community Connections

Healing homelessness and fighting poverty one life at a time.

Serving Jacksonville
Community Connections celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. Formerly known as the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association), the organization broke away in 2000 and changed its name to more accurately reflect the diverse population served while ensuring that all resources were directed to citizens in Northeast Florida.

Those served
Community Connections of Jacksonville connects women, children and families with resources that include:

• Transitional housing. More than 150 women and children are residents at the Florence M. Davis Center. Residents live at the dormitory for up to two years during which time they participate in parenting classes, nutritional programs, GED and literacy classes, financial literacy programs, anger management, job readiness and more. The Nia Terrace and Northeast Transitional Housing program provides more than 72 housing sites in Duval, Nassau and Clay counties for families. These families also participate for up to two years while receiving classes and services.

• After-school programs. Educational assistance and enrichment activities are provided for more than 600 children at our four off-site facilities. Opportunities such as the Jaguar Honor Rolls focusing on nutrition and fitness and REMMER Girls, a girls’ leadership program, are offered along with many others.

• Team Up. At three elementary schools — Hyde Grove, Oak Hill and Martin Luther King Jr. — more than 500 children are provided with academic assistance, focused FCAT coaching and enrichment classes.

• Summer camp programs. Each year more than 1,000 children participate in Community Connections summer camps.

• Child Development Center at the Davis Center. This accredited center provides child care not only for working residents but serves as a resource for the Sulzbacher Center, Hubbard House and other emergency housing centers.

• Healthy Families Jacksonville. This program supports pregnant women and families at risk of child abuse and neglect. Each year more than 1,000 children are helped.

Biggest challenge
Raising the awareness in Northeast Florida about the scope of programs provided by Community Connections. Of course hand-in-glove with that is ensuring that we continue to raise the funds necessary to provide the services so desperately needed.

Biggest satisfaction
Knowing we make a difference every day. Through our programs, people are moving to viable sustainability and improving their quality of life. It doesn’t get better than that.

Laurel, Miss.

First experience with community service
My family has always been involved in helping others. There’s not a time I can remember when my mom wasn’t making baby blankets or we weren’t helping rake neighbors’ yards or having bake sales. That led to mission trips and much more. Giving of self was expected and I’m grateful that stewardship was ingrained early. “If not me then who and if not now then when” are words I really do try to live by and up to.

Your job before Community Connections
Executive director, Learn to Read, and before that, vice president of the JAX Chamber Membership Division.

Upcoming events
Wednesday: 6-8 p.m., 101 Suits at BlackFinn American Grille, St. Johns Town Center. It’s a wonderful opportunity to donate new or gently used suits to assist women with job interviews. We’re also collecting Easter baskets for all ages.

Contact information
327 E. Duval St., 32202

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