First EnVision Center in the State of Georgia "Dwells in Possibility"
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designated on October 29, 2019 the LaGrange Housing Authority of LaGrange, Georgia as the first EnVision Center in the state. HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett, USDA-FNS SE Region Administrator Willie Taylor, Zsa Zsa Heard, LaGrange Housing Authority CEO and Alice Vines, Resident Commissioner were among the distinguished speakers on hand for the opening, along with an array of attendees. The Community Center which was designated as an EnVision Center is in the hub of residential buildings of Phoenix, the recently renamed Benjamin Harvey Hill Homes. West Georgia Star is an integral component of LaGrange Housing Authorityâs EnVision Centerâs resident service as it serves as a non-profit corporation that promotes self-sufficiency, poverty decentralizing and helps families get well-paying jobs so they can afford to not need public assistance.
âThis is a momentous moment for the Housing Authority,â said Heard, CEO of LaGrange Housing Authority. âThis has been my mission, to deliberately interrupt poverty. Because the people cannot remain in those places, if you want to put them in beautiful buildings.â
Heard noted that the housing authority does things different than others.
âPeople are going to have to get on board because we donât just house,â Heard said. âWe house people to send them to a different and better place. It was never intended for them to stay 66 years, we just allowed it.â
Board member and resident Alice Vines spoke about her experiences saying that, âI was an officer and I lost my job, I lost my home, I lost everything that I had, and I came over here and got an apartment. I was blessed.â She added that over time under Heardâs leadership things changed for the better.
âWhen I first came, I would sit on my front porch and I would read my Bible,â Vines said. âYou saw a lot of strays, it was guys mostly, and they were so bold. I would see them on the side of my building just smoking reefer. As time went on Heard started doing some things. Cameras were put up âŠ all of sudden you didnât see any strays coming around.â
Vines said itâs because of programs through West Georgia Star that the housing authority offered her and her granddaughter real hope that eventually helped them achieve educational goals they did not believe were ever possible.
HUD SE Region Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett concluded the dayâs events as she provided closing remarks.
âWhen I came here, I saw that things were right,â said Cleveland-Leggett. âLeadership is the key to any successful organization.â
âIf you have any organization that has a great idea, but if you donât have a person to push it forward and to make it a reality then itâs just a good idea. You have Zsa Zsa Heard, who is one of the best leaders I have ever met.â
Concluding her remarks Cleveland-Leggett quoted Emily Dickinson.
âAnd that is âI dwell in possibility,ââ Cleveland-Leggett said. âShe doesnât say, I think about possibility. I dream about whatâs possible. She says, Iâve dwelled in possibilityâŠ when you dwell in possibilities, you linger, you stay there. And if you dwell in possibility, you will be blessed, and you will achieve your goals.â
LaGrange Housing Authorityâs EnVision Center designation is truly remarkable and indicative of their vision and drive to âdwell in possibilitiesâ and help them come to fruition for those they and HUD mutually serve. HUDâs EnVision Centers are premised on the notion that financial support alone canât solve the problem of poverty, and that collective efforts across a diverse set of organizations, both public and private, are needed to help low-income individuals and families rise out of it. The programs offered are based on the EnVision Centerâs four pillars: economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character development.