“It’s a tremendous response we got from the people of Poinciana,” he said.
What he has, Nuesch said, is the results of a survey on the need for more social service agencies and providers in Poinciana, a community of 84,000 that has a lot of homes, three high schools, some new restaurants – but not much when it comes to social agencies.
“In Kissimmee, you have 17 to 20 social service agencies, and here we don’t have any,” he said.
But what he does have now is several hundred Poinciana residents who responded to his ongoing survey, which set out to gauge the community’s needs and desire for more social service providers.
“We’ve already received 200 responses, and we think that’s enough for what we need,” he said, adding that at the end of this month, he will present the survey results to the Salvation Army office in Kissimmee, and to the national headquarters, to firm up the idea of bringing a Salvation Army center to Poinciana.
Nuesch, a resident of Solivita and a member of the board of directors of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, has been spearheading efforts to get the Salvation Army to expand from its current office in Kissimmee to open a new one in Poinciana. He started the process by conducting a survey of local residents to demonstrate the support is there for this project.
The survey was a big success, added Nick Murdock, the chairman of PEDA, a non-profit organization working to bring more jobs and economic opportunity to Poinciana.
If Poinciana does get a Salvation Army office, Murdock said, it will be the linchpin that encourages other service providers to relocate to the community of 10 villages across Polk and Osceola counties.
“I think the Salvation Army provides the umbrella to get things down here quicker and faster,” Murdock said. “We’ll be working with the two counties on this.”
Nuesch, a consultant for the Salvation Army, has been trying since last summer to find a way to bring the non-profit agency into Poinciana. Since the community is split between Osceola and Polk counties, residents on the Osceola side have to drive to Kissimmee to get access to social service agencies. For Polk County residents, they have to make the drive to Winter Haven.
But there have been some hurdles to overcome. One dilemma is that the Salvation Army is a non-profit and can’t afford to pay rent on a local building, so supporters need to help raise the funds for a place where they can operate in Poinciana.
They also need to convince the Salvation Army’s regional headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., to invest in this project. That’s why Nuesch conducted the survey.
“We plan to have the study done by the end of June,” he said. “We hope that the Salvation Army will be able to build a new facility here in Poinciana, to meet all the needs here. We think we have a very strong case to be made here in Poinciana, but it depends on what happens in the next few months, and how we do at fund-raising.”
Murdock said he believes that case can be made, and if they can find financial contributors to help cover the costs of bringing the Salvation Army to Poinciana, it definitely will happen.
“Everybody is going to be really excited when that happens,” he said. “It’s going to be huge for the community.”
If it becomes a reality, the Salvation Army office in Poinciana would include a thrift store and service center for family services, one that could offer everything from character building programs and counseling and day care programs and music training for teens.
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