Community center gets results for Holden Heights neighbors

Kaley Square answers neighborhood concerns

ORLANDO, Fla. – Demetrius Summerville is this week's Getting Results Award winner. 

Summerville serves as executive director of Kaley Square, a community center with a mission to cultivate hope, connection and growth for its Holden Heights neighbors.

Located in a renovated church on West Kaley Avenue, the property serves as an after school alternative for middle and high school kids. 

"We didn't want to come in with a plan and force it on our community," Summerville says. "We wanted to listen and learn, so we hired residents to do a door to door survey."

Summerville says the survey, which took place in 2014, revealed three main concerns neighbors had: safe streets, youth activities and beautification. 

To help satisfy those needs, Kaley Square leases space to like-minded organizations.   

The property serves as the first expansion site for the city of Orlando's Parramore Kidz Zone and the headquarters for Fleet farming, Polis Institute and Emmanuel Fellowship and Worship Center.

Each afternoon, students can be found studying, playing sports and learning new skills. 

A student advocate is also on hand to help kids navigate their academic responsibilities.

"What drives me is I grew up in a community similar to this community. I vowed to get my education and never live in poverty again," Summerville says. "I graduated with my master's degree in counseling, and I felt called to move to this community and not just serve here but live here and be a living, breathing image of an alternative vision of what success can look like for people of color in a distressed community." 

Summerville says he wants Kaley Square to be the place residents turn to for guidance.

"Money is not the answer. I think the answer is a confident generation of people who are willing to take risks and take advantage of the opportunities that are given them," he says. "We want to lower the internal obstacles to people's success by being a constant presence and provide opportunities."    

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.