The agency that focuses on getting families into temporary housing has a new executive director.
For the past 20 years Claris Mac’Kie has been synonymous with Family Renew, an organization whose mission is to put families with children in safe temporary housing in one of their apartment complexes while their parents get back on their feet.
Mac’Kie retired on February 28 and the Rev. Tony Deobil became the new Executive Director on March 1. Mac’Kie has remained active with the organization for the past three months, but May 31 will be her last day.
During Mac’Kie’s two decades, Family Renew has grown from the original 14 apartments at the U.S. 1 location in Holly Hill to include a two-story, 11- apartment building in Daytona Beach and another facility in DeLand in 2001 through a donation by Tom and Linda O’Quinn.
Deobil wants to continue that growth and add services for families with children where there are none.
He is candid about growing up in the projects in New York and being told he didn’t have much of a future. He is living proof that things can change and he challenges families to dream, something many say they gave up long ago.
“If I have a bad day, all I have to do is look out that window at 3 p.m.,” Deobil said.
Outside the window is the Family Renew playground and watching children being allowed to put adult worries behind them and be children makes all the difference.
The facilities are for people with children, but Family Renew uses its contacts with other agencies to help people. One young woman in DeLand was having problems getting interviews and Deobil called another agency, and she had an interview shortly after.
“I don’t want to be an agency that says sorry there’s nothing we can do,” Deobil said.
Deobil said, “We can solve homelessness one person and one family at a time.” Words Mac’Kie likes hearing.
“I am walking out the door knowing that Family Renew is in good hands and will be OK,” Mac’Kie said.