Celebrating a New Chapter: The Grand Opening of Wayne Densch Apartments Community Center

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, the Wayne Densch Apartments Community Center opened its doors for the first time, welcoming residents, neighbors, local leaders, and community partners to celebrate. Ability Housing, in partnership with AdventHealth of Central Florida, hosted the event, bringing together nearly 70 attendees, including former Congresswoman Val Demings, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and numerous community members and partners. The gathering was not merely an opening but a heartfelt testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together.

The grand opening was marked by inspiring speeches from key leaders who have been pivotal in this journey. Shannon Nazworth, President and CEO of Ability Housing, spoke about the significance of community-focused development. Mayor Demings highlighted the essential role of local government in supporting such initiatives, and Ms. Demings emphasized the impact of federal support in addressing homelessness and housing insecurity. Michael Griffin, Chair of the Board of Ability Housing and Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy of AdventHealth, shared the vision behind the partnership and its long-term benefits. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement, reflecting the center’s promise to be a cornerstone of support and growth for the Wayne Densch Apartments residents. Following their remarks, Ms. Nazworth presented Ms. Demings, Mayor Demings, and Mr. Griffin with awards in recognition of their ceaseless support of the project.

Community Center Details

The new community center adds 2,500 square feet of flexible space to the community, designed to cater to its residents’ physical, social, and emotional well-being. It features a multipurpose room perfect for gatherings and events, laundry facilities that make everyday living more convenient, and three private offices for residents to meet with case managers. The property management team now has dedicated office space, ensuring they can provide efficient and personalized support.

One of the most exciting additions is the computer lab and library, a hub for learning and connection. Residents can enhance their digital skills, pursue education, and explore new opportunities here. AdventHealth University and its Hope Clinic will also use this space, offering free services such as independent living skills training, home risk assessments, and group therapy sessions to improve communication and social skills among residents.

Leslie McMillan, the Property Manager at the Wayne Densch Apartments, expressed her joy regarding the new center, saying, “I am excited to have this new community center, even more so for the residents. This project will make a substantial difference and positively impact the daily lives of Wayne Densch community members.”

McMillan continued, “Residents now have access to a broad range of activities and events designed to stimulate and inspire their lives. I appreciate the dedication of all involved in making a positive change in our community.”

Project Funding

The project was made possible with $500,000 in federal funding secured by U.S. Representative Val Demings and $250,000 from the Orange County Government through an American Rescue Plan appropriation. JR Construction Group, LLC, oversaw the construction, ensuring the highest standards were met.

Wayne Densch History

The journey of the Wayne Densch Center is a story of transformation and hope. For over 18 years, it operated as a transitional housing community. In 2016, it was generously donated to AdventHealth, which partnered with Ability Housing to transform it into 75 permanent housing units for individuals and families exiting or at risk of homelessness. Major renovations completed between 2019 and 2020 have ensured that the community remains fully leased, providing a stable home for its residents.

High Hopes for the Future

The new community center is more than just a building; it is a place where relationships will flourish, and the community will grow stronger. With dedicated on-site staff and incredible partners, this center will become a haven where residents can focus on their well-being, build connections, and find support. The flexible space allows for various activities and programs tailored to meet the unique needs of its residents.

Kieran Riley, a Case Manager at the Wayne Densch Center, expressed her satisfaction with the new space, stating,

“The new community center offers diverse professional development and resident engagement amenities. I’m excited for residents to access the computer lab and that we now have ample space for community activities such as themed bingo and movie nights.”

Riley went on to say,

“For residents who benefit from case management services, we now have an area dedicated to providing the best environment to support and assist their needs.”

This collaborative effort is an excellent example of how community partnerships can create impactful, lasting change. It was about more than just building a community center—it was an effort to foster a supportive, connected, thriving community ready to embrace a brighter future.