DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- No issue has proven more devisive in the last several years in Volusia County than what to do about homelessness, especially in Daytona Beach, the tourism hub and epicenter of the problem. But in 2016, three people worked together behind the scenes to come up with a viable solution to help two segments of the homeless population -- namely families and unaccompanied teens still in school.
That solution is "Hope Place" and the big three responsible for seeing it through to reality are Forough Hosseini, a principal owner of ICI Homes with her husband, Mori Hosseini; Mark Geallis, executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries in Daytona Beach; and Jim Dinneen, the manager of Volusia County government.
For their tireless efforts in staying the course, Forough Hosseini, Mark Geallis and Jim Dinneen are the "Headline Surfer Newsmakers of the Year" for 2016.
Already announced as the Politician of the Year is Lisa Lewis, Volusia County's supervisor of elections. Still to come are year-end awards for Citizens of the Year, Business of the Year and Top Cop of the Year.
The Volusia County Council on June 16 unanimously approved $3.5 million in expenditures for purchase of the former Hurst Elementary School as well as retrofitting and other on-site improvements for Hope Place, as well as a rezoning of the Wright Street propety.
"You're looking at a woman who grew up in poverty and was homeless," Volusia County resident Christina Moore said at the meeting that was emotional at times. "These are people. These are lives. These are not numbers on a sheet. They need hope. They need people who care."
Forough Hosseini, one of the wealthiest businesswomen in Volusia County, who has invested a lot of her private moies and those of ICI Homes owned by she and her husband, Mori Hosseini, was equally as passionate as those for and against the endeavor, pointing to stats showing 25 percent of local children live in poverty.
"I assure you no child elects to live in a car, or in the woods, or to not have a place to call home," Forough Hosseini s in a determined, but professional tome, never raising her voice.
But to local neighbors like Charlie Fondren, "To Bring a shelter to our community will be detrimental," Charlie Fondren insisted.