At about 9 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning, South Brooksville awoke to upbeat music energizing the block on Jefferson Street near the Brooksville Community Center. It was a reminder to all in the neighborhood that some fun was happening that day. The event was the South Brooksville Community Resource Block Party, organized with the help of the Hernando County YMCA and the Togetherhood programs as well as the City of Brooksville Parks and Recreation Department.
Volunteer traffic directors Aaron Ciccarello and Stephen Hutchinson had some beat in their feet as they waved down residents driving past and pointed attendees to the event. They mastered the traffic cop danceathon vibe- if that is a thing- and inspired others to dance along.
City of Brooksville Parks and Recreation Department Director David Howard got the grill started and numerous vendors conversed with community members who came out for the event.
Ayres, a planning and developing firm that the city of Brooksville hired to plan additional biking trails and recreational facilities, was present at the event seeking input on proposed plans for trails, paths, and recreation. They presented a plan to the city council on Monday, Nov. 6.
Resources and vendors at the event included Belinda Drake, who sold baked goods. Her pumpkin pie is excellent. Dr. Michael Jones manned the Pasco-Hernando Community College tent and Tresa Watson and Myles Brown represented the Hernando Community Coalition. Members of the South Brooksville Tax Redevelopment Advisory Committee (TRAC) handed out community resource information. TRAC is made up of South Brooksville community members, community leaders and city and county officials. Their goal is to ensure that property tax dollars go back into the community for improvements. TRAC meets on the 4th Thursday of the month at 3 p.m. at the Elks Lodge at 512 E MLK Jr Blvd (except Feb, May, Aug, Nov).
The event also featured free mental and physical health resources as well as family and education resources.
Organizer Gerry Whitted is on the Hernando County YMCA’s Advisory Council and is chair of the Togetherhood program. He explained that his “dream team” consists of approximately 20 individuals, some of whom are Y members and others are community and business leaders in the medical and education fields as well as the City of Brooksville, the Health Department and PHSC. The dream team conceptualized the event to provide the area with three hours of unity where people can take off whatever hat they wear during the week and come together to talk with each other and have some fun.
Whitted explained that through more events like these, he’d like to see the diverse and distinct communities of Hernando County come together for just a little while to promote unity within the county. “It’s been very rewarding and the energy and desire from these leaders who come together have been amazing,” said Whitted.
Whitted and his dream team began planning the Community Resource Block Party in July. With the growth of the Togetherhood program, they plan to organize an event once a quarter.
The Togetherhood program has helped out in smaller ways throughout the county, participating in the Kass Circle Cleanup, volunteering at the Dawn Center and painting an elderly widow’s home in South Brooksville.
Whitted says that as they increase their numbers, they plan to do some big things in Hernando County. The Togetherhood program provides social networking, a sense of well-being and self-worth through the good work they do in the community, and most importantly- fun is a prerequisite. “Have fun, do it together, putting egos aside. This cause is bigger than any of us. It’s going to be a labor of love,” said Whitted.
If you’d like to volunteer with the Togetherhood program, contact Gerry Whitted at [email protected].