School Board unanimously approves sale of Hurst School for Daytona-area homeless familes with kids & teens on their own

 

Daytona homeless family shelter / Jim Dinneen, Forough Hosseini, Mark Geallis / Headline Surfer®
First of a 10-Part Series that takes the public into the plight of seemingly countless homeless families with children and teens (at least 18) living on their own while still in school with no place to call home in greater Daytona Beach and throughout Volusia County; and three leaders who did something about it -- Mark Geallis, executive director of the Halifax Urban Ministries; Forough Hosseini, vice president of ICI Homes and a community entrepreneur; and Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen. These are their stories...
 
Forough Hosseini was one of the big proponents of thne Project Hope shelter / Headline Surfer®Hurst School just north of Daytona to become family homeless shelter / Headliner Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® /
Forough Hosseini, shown here at left, vice president of ICI Homes in Daytona Beach, isa among the big three community leaders who have made 'Project Hope' a reality with government approvals and funding to convert the former Hurst School into a temporary facility for homeless families with children and teens, 18 and older, still in school, who have neither parents nor a place to go home to. The other two leaders are Mark Geallis, executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries; and Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen.
 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Forough Hosseini tugs on the locked door at the former Walter A. Hurst School just north of the Daytona Beach city limits in adjacent Holly Hill in an impoverished neighborhood that served as its elementary school for many years before its closing nearly a decade ago.

Hosseini knows all too well the strengths and weaknesses of Daytona, the Central Florida tourism hub on the east end of interstates 4 and 95, that is home to the World's Most Famous Beach®, where speed was born.

And some 75 miles west on I-4 on the other side of Orlando is the ultimate global family destination -- Walt Disney World -- home of Mickey Mouse.

But Daytona has yet another major tourist attraction: Indeed, while the hard sands of the curling surf still provide 17 of the 50-plus scenic miles of beach driving, speed long ago found a new racing mecca -- Daytona International Speedway, home of NASCAR and stock car's All-American Race, the Daytona 500.

And perhaps rivaled on a global scale only by that of the Memorial Day Sunday running of the open-wheel racing of the Indianapolis 500.

Chronic homeless in Daytona are niot the target audience being helped by Project Hope / Headline Surfer®

Photo for Headline Surfer® /

Chronic homeless adults as shown here along the Halifax River in Daytona Beach are not the type of homeless for which Hope Place is intended.
 

Forough Hosseini is quite familiar with NASCAR, as her husband, Mori Hosseini, serves on the board of trustees for International Speedway Corp., which is the parent company of Daytona International Speedway and a dozen other major tracks throughout the US. 

And if there is one entity the Hosseinis are intimately tied into, it's the high-end residential housing market, and with their company in particular, ICI Homes on Beville Road, custom-home building is their specialty.

Mori Hosseini, president of ICI Homes, is among the wealthiest of greater Daytona's business entrepreneurs, who also devotes time to his higher education responsibilities, in addition to getting involved in financing political campaigns at all levels of government over the last few decades, including that of George W. Bush. Hosseini, Iranian-born and educated in London before coming here and gaining US citizenship, is nearly matched by that of his business-savvy wife, also from their homeland.

After all, Forough Hosseini, long since an American citizen and mother of their three grown daughters, is vice president of ICI Homes and chairwoman of the Daytona State College Board of Trustees.

And Hosseini lends her name and checkbook to countless charities and community good works. Among these good works is a program, "Food Brings Hope," which mostly provides food subsidies for "unaccompanied youth" or those teens 18 and older, still enrolled in school, but living on their own -- and mostly homeless.

That charitable effort alone would be considered herculean, but Forough Hosseini wanted more for homeless families and teens who don't have parents or a home. Then it dawned on Hosseini. Why not a facility that was under-utilized like Hurst Elementary?

Fporough Hosseini made Project Hope a reality for homeless families / Headline Surfer®And Forough Hosseini lends her name and checkbook to countless charities and community good works. Among these good works is a program, 'Food Brings Hope,' as shown here, which mostly provides food subsidies for "unaccompanied youth" or those teens 18 and older, still enrolled in school, but living on their own -- and mostly homeless. That charitable effort alone would be considered herculean, but Forough Hosseini wanted more for homeless families and teens of age, still enrolled in school, who don't have parents or a place even to call home. Then it dawned on Hosseini: Why not a facility that was under-utilized like Hurst Elementary? Thus Hope Place was born.

The credit to convert Hurst Elementary to a temporary residence for homeless families belongs to Troy Ray, the former executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries. Ray was not able to make an appointment with the former Volusia County Schools Superintendent Margaret Smith, for one reason or another over time.

Forough Hosseini’s role, as an advocate for homeless children, was to make it possible for Ray to pitch the idea to Smith. In 2012, it finally happened when she and Troy met with Dr. Smith.

At the time, the superintendent explained that Hurst Elementary was being used for training and meetings and she wouldn't be able to sell it.

Forough Hosseini doesn't give up: Jim Dinneen & Mark Geallis enter picture

In 2014, Hosseini and the school superintendent met again to further discuss the idea of converting the Hurst School into a temporary facility.

In these past couple of years, Hosseini spent countless hours and personal capital to bring the right people together to make it a reality.

She set up multiple meetings between County Manager Jim Dinneen and Superintendent Smith, together with their staffs, to hammer out the issues. Others were invited to lend their expertise and ideas as it became necessary.

Dinneen from the onset was clear that the County Commission might consider helping with capital costs of renovating Hurst but would not commit to annual operating costs.

The County was considering spending more than $3 million for renovations and paying the school district $200,000 for the Hurst School property itself.

The school district was willing to find alternate locations for their meetings and training to provide this opportunity of a better location for the homeless children and their families. HUM stepped up through its new executive director, Mark Geallis, to accept responsibility to run the facility, which he did readily.

Project Hope was well under way to reality with a series of government votes.

Here is a timeline on action taken by stakeholders for "Hope Place, a shelter for homeless families with children and for teens, age 18 and older still in school, but with neither parents nor a place to call home, also known as unaccompanied youth:

Forough Hosseini stands outsidwe Counrty Council in DeLand on March 3 after vote to fund Project Hope / Headline Surfer®Photo for Headline Surfer® / 
Forough Hosseini stands outside the Frank T. Bruno Jr. County Council chambers on March 3, in DeLand, FL, after $3 million-plus was approved for funding of 'Hope Place,' converting the former Hurst Elementary School in greater Daytona Beach, into a temporary living quarters for homeless families wit children and teens who have neither parents not a place to liver, but are still in school.
 

• March 3: County Council

The Volusia County Council votes unanimously to fund Hope Plac for homeless families with children (108 bunks) and for approximately 28-32 unaccompanied youth (teens 18 18 & older without parents) but still attending school.

• March 15: School Board

The Volusia County School Board votes unanimously (6-0 with Linda Costello absent) to sell the former Hurst Elementary School complex to Halifax Urban Ministries for $200,000, with funding from the county council.

Coming Up:

Part 2: 
Chance meeting between Volusia County School Board Vice Chair Melody McSorley Johnson and Forough Hosseini at GOP Lincoln dinner fundraiser gets things moving for Hope Place.
Sidebar 1: Big 3: Mark Geallis
Sidebar 2: Forough Hosseini
Sidebar 3: Jim Dinneen
 

Previous Coverage:

Mark Geallis, Forough Hosseini & Jim Dinneen architects of Projectb Hope for Daytona's homeless / Headline Surfer®Preamble: 

Posted Wed, 2016-03-09 10:33

Forough Hosseini was one of the big proponents of thne Project Hope shelter / Headline Surfer®Part 1:
Posted Sat, 2016-03-26 17:05
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.