BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Bethel Empowerment Center (BEC) in DeLand opened its doors just over a month ago in an effort to help community members with services typically taken care of at the Department of Children and Families office in Daytona Beach.
Pastor Jeffery Dove, a member of the BEC board, says the success the center has seen since April 1 has been vast.
“In this short period of time, we have had some tremendous success. The center has a plethora of resources. We offer bus passes, help with resumes, and we are preparing a job fair May 23 from 10-2. Bright House, Burger King and Lowes will all be in attendance. We are very excited about bringing economic opportunity to DeLand,” he told the Daytona Times.
Filling a gap
Dove added that there are resources lacking in DeLand.
“We assist people who need to apply for the food stamp card (EBT). That (ability) is no longer in DeLand (through a state agency). It moved to Daytona. We fill that gap. I don’t think the State of Florida understands that if you are poor or you are elderly and you need to eat, and you need to reapply you have to go all the way to Daytona. That is a problem for a lot of seniors in the community and a problem for just the average person.”
Patrons at the center agree with Dove’s sentiments.
“I’m filling out applications and creating a resume to get a job,” said first-time visitor Matilda Butler. “I get food stamps, and I don’t have transportation to get way to Daytona.”
Even has shower
Another patron wishes more people knew about the center, which is outfitted in standard tables and chairs as well as comfortable couches.
Cheyenne Graham said of the center, “This is a good place, people should be able to learn more about it.”
The center also has a shower available to the homeless and those who are in need.
“We are trying to be that center that fills in the gap, and we are friendly to the convicted felons,’’ Dove asserted.
The employees who run the center work through a non-profit – Experience Works, which hires seniors over the age of 55.
The Department of Children and Families donated computers that patrons use to access work sites and state agencies. Dove said more are needed.
“The dilemma or concern I have is the state and other entities moving resources out of the community to places that can’t be accessible to the DeLand community and that is a real issue,” he noted.
“They give us computers and think that should suffice, but it should not suffice. The resources are moving out of the community and now we have to use non-profit resources to make it happen and that’s not fair. Our tax dollars should be able to stay within DeLand. It’s not right.”
Dove added that at some point there needs to be a conversation on the accessibility of state agencies.
“I don’t know if it’s that people aren’t standing up in DeLand, but it’s not fair to those that need it,” he added.
The center is located at 226 East Howry Ave. and operates from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
May 23 job fair
A job fair is scheduled there on Friday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees are required to have a resume to enter the fair. Those without a resume will be able to receive assistance in formatting a resume before and during the event.
Organizations interested in partnering with the center offering employment, job assistance, providing agency recommendations, resources or volunteers are asked to contact Dove at 386-855-4087 by May 9.
For more information on the center, call 386-736-2324.