Angela Davis said, “Walls turned sideways are bridges.”

When you run into a problem, you can either see it as an obstacle or, depending on how you deal with it, a solution. Community Resident Leader, Cynthia Harris, known as “Ms. Cynthia” to members of her community, is a walking testimony of solution-based organizing in Greater Malibu Groves. Seeing her in action is an honor—and makes it clear that she puts the “unity” in community.

Cynthia grew up in Malibu Groves and has seen many changes to the area over the years. Graduating from Maynard Evans High School and an alum of Valencia College and UCF, she is an active member of The Black Advisory Committee at Valencia College and serves as The President of the Greater Malibu Groves Homeowner’s Association. She also is currently President of the PTA at Ivey Lane Elementary and Chairperson of the Greater Malibu Groves Community Conversation. Although she works to improve quality of life for all of her neighbors, Cynthia’s advocacy work has always centered around homelessness, improved mental health services, veterans and seniors.

Orlando has taken notice—and so has Habitat for Humanity International. Ms. Cynthia will be attending the Habitat for Humanity International Conference in Atlanta where she will co-facilitate a workshop with Abby Lemay, Director of Community Impact at Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County. When asked about Ms. Cynthia’s leadership style, Abby shared, “I’ve known her for three years, and in that time, Cynthia’s leadership has transformed community participation and made our partnership in Neighborhood Revitalization possible. Through her many roles in the community, Cynthia has made a lasting impact on the Malibu Groves and Orlando communities.”

Ms. Cynthia is moving full steam ahead in 2019. She has secured funding for an entranceway wall on Ivey Lane that is in desperate need of repair and has big plans for a community block party in the summer.

When asked about the Greater Malibu Groves partnership with Habitat Orlando & Osceola, Ms. Cynthia replied, “I’m very grateful that we were selected to partner with the Neighborhood Revitalization Program with Habitat. It’s refreshing to know that the Malibu Groves community has something tangible that will last a lifetime instead of a temporary handout that only addresses today’s issue. Our property values will grow, and neighbors will continue to have a sense of community. I hope that more corporations will continue to invest in us, our community, and maintain a positive neighborly partnership.”

Her encouragement to her community? “Get involved. Bring your resources. And let’s make it happen in Greater Malibu Groves.”

Greater Malibu Community Conversation meets every First Monday of the Month at the Community Baptist Church located at 651 Campanella Avenue from 6:30pm-8:00pm. The Community Development team can’t wait to see you there!