By Jordan Mullens
Smiles and sounds of laughter brought much needed warmth to a chilly winter day at Oakland Terrace on Jacksonville’s Eastside last week.
Jan. 29, youth of the neighborhood had a blast celebrating their birthdays and the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This special Eastside Children’s Birthday Celebration was part of the Historic Eastside Community Development Corporation and United Way of Northeast Florida’s “Roots and Rebuild: Activating the Dream” initiative, a series of community events, conversations, exhibits and volunteer projects to uplift our Eastside community and the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
At the Birthday Celebration, volunteers facilitated a variety of fun family-friendly activities, including flower-potting, name-plate crafting and bracelet-making. The stuffed-animal station allowed participants to make their very own fuzzy friend!
The Hollywood-themed photobooth perfectly captured the life of the party and provided personalized photoshoots, too. And what’s a birthday party without cake? Everyone’s sweet tooth was satisfied by the Honey Dripper House, cupcakes and a cookie customization station.
“This day will be a day they never forget,” said LaShaundra Sawyer, a member of United Way’s volunteer and community engagement team. “Especially since they were able to make and name their own stuffed animals.”
The Oakland Terrace Apartments hold a special significance within the Jacksonville community. Did you know it was built on the location of the former Boylan-Haven School? The school’s health training program led to the founding of the Brewster Hospital, one of the first institutions for African-Americans in Florida. The school was demolished in 1971, and the area now serves as high-quality housing, where struggling families can find stable housing.
The HUD-assisted property is managed by a United Way of Northeast Florida partner, Ability Housing, and cases are managed by Sulzbacher staff.
United Way and our Eastside partners will continue to celebrate Dr. King’s life though “Roots and Rebuild,” which runs through April and spotlights the great partners and community advocates who call the Eastside home.
We hope you will join us “Out East” for one of our many events. View the schedule on the official webpage. If you or someone you know is interested in sponsoring “Roots and Rebuild,” please reach out to Tondra Hill at 904-390-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.