“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
By Shirley Sharpe-Terrell and Nicole Kennedy, Orange County Commission District 2 Aides
As Commissioner Love’s term comes to a close, we wanted to express our appreciation and gratitude to all those who have supported him as well as the District 2 Office the past eight months. With his long list of accomplishments, we are sure many of you are wondering, “What went on in that office?” This week, in addition to Commissioner Love’s weekly column, we wanted to share with you all our incredible experience working for The Honorable Rod A. Love.
When Commissioner Love was first appointed, Nicole Kennedy, 24, had been holding down the fort for the office after working for City of Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson when he was a County Commissioner. She was then joined by Ms. Shirley Sharpe-Terrell, 71, who had brought in a wealth of experience and knowledge from her sixteen-year tenure working for Former District 2 Commissioners Bob Sindler (1998-2006) and Fred Brummer (2006-2014). Although we had a significant age difference between us and worked for different Commissioners previously, this brought great diversity and perspectives to our office. For instance, when we were asked to type up some thank you cards following an event, we decided to use a typewriter. Nicole, who is an excellent writer, drafted up words for the cards, and Shirley, who was very familiar with how to operate a typewriter, typed up the cards.
During his term, Commissioner Love touched on a number of issues and topics, from bringing the District 2 Safe Neighborhoods together to hosting a forum to discuss domestic violence. In regard to events, what was most notable for us was the series of discussions that evolved from the original “Engaging Men, Advancing Women” forum that was held at the beginning of August. The original forum had a panel comprised of both men and women who have mentored and made significant contributions to the community for our youth. As aides, we were given the privilege to work behind the scenes in putting the forum together and watching it come together, from getting the programs printed to Commissioner Love’s closing remarks. However, despite the success and positive feedback that our office received following the event, it was clear that there was still work to be done. Thus, our team, along with community leaders and stakeholders, took on the task of bringing the discussions and continuing the conversations on empowerment to boys and men (“Engaging Men: Identifying Solutions” Forum, September 20, 2-2018), girls and women (“Advancing Women: Identifying Solutions”, Forum, September 27, 2018), and survivors of domestic violence (“Engaging Men, Advancing Women: A Silent Cry, A Cry Not Heard” Forum, November 29, 2018). From reaching out to panelists with invitations to networking following the programs, we had the chance to witness fellowship and relationships being built among stakeholders, which will help to ensure that these conversations will not die after Commissioner Love leaves office.
In addition to empowering the community through forums, Commissioner Love also had other ideas in mind to accomplish this goal. Back in July, Commissioner Love had asked the Board of County Commissioners for the support and authority to utilize the balance of District 2 INVEST infrastructure funding in the amount of $478,861.00 to partner with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) to construct the facility (previously a grocery store) across from Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School in Apopka. The goal for securing this funding was to develop the facility into a vocational training facility for adults. With the approval for funding by the Board and the community’s support for this project, Commissioner Love opened the naming for the facility to the public. As aides, we were charged with the tasks of putting together public outreach through different media forms (Facebook, newspapers, etc.) for submitting names and a naming committee for reviewing name submissions and making recommendations. The naming committee was comprised of local residents with a historic perspective of the Apopka community. Having lived in Apopka for many years, Ms. Shirley Sharpe-Terrell was an excellent resource in selecting individuals for the committee. Earlier this month, our office announced through a press release that the proposed name for the facility will be The Frank Smith Adult Technical Center. From the first meeting with Orange County staff and OCPS to discuss this idea to put together the final press release announcement, we witnessed an idea become a reality in just a matter of five months.
Having worked alongside him for eight months, out of all his accomplishments as County Commissioner, we consider Commissioner Love’s introduction of Results Based Accountability (RBA) and Community Empowerment Zones (CEZ) to the Board of County Commissioners and the community to be his greatest accomplishment. What started as a memo to the Board requesting an innovative discussion on how to utilize $20 million proposed by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs to address impoverished communities and children’s services ultimately became a theme for many of Commissioner Love’s accomplishments. From beginning discussions on establishing a vocational training program in aviation mechanics/aeronautics at the Zellwood Apopka Airport to impact growth in neighboring communities to hosting a training on how to implement RBA, RBA and CEZ provided a strong foundation to refer back to in carrying out the objectives for each project.
In addition to many of the projects we got to be a part of, we had the chance to witness something incredible: The formation of a relationship between Orange County Government and the City of Apopka as partnering municipalities. What makes this so incredible is the fact that this is the first time in history that the two governmental bodies have had a working relationship. Given their vision for unity, we thank Mayor Nelson and Commissioner Love for making this possible.
In closing, we would like to thank Commissioner Love for not only his service to Orange County but also selecting us as his team to be a part of his journey these past eight months. We would also like to thank Ken Wilson for his input and contributions to make Commissioner Love’s projects a success. With 28 total accomplishments in just eight months, Commissioner Love is, and will be the one and only, “Super Rod!”