SANFORD – Every morning, Cynthia M. Hamilton-Smith is on a mission to make a difference. As the Executive Director of the Goldenrule Housing & Community Development Corp., she was inspired by the sincerity of the nonprofit’s founder and migrant worker, Amefike Gueka, who grew up in a low-income neighborhood and intimately understood how difficult it was to find safe, affordable housing. Cynthia is proud to be at the helm of this important low-income community service organization.
Not only is she managing the nonprofit’s day-to-day operations, but she’s regularly in the field meeting with families and searching for suitable properties to purchase. Witnessing some of the extremely poor living conditions many families are in, and the ridiculously high rent they pay, motivates her to keep looking for solutions.
Goldenrule’s motto is “Changing Lives, Changing Communities, and Changing Generations” and Cynthia has seen that firsthand and has many stories to tell. “It’s a long process,” she explains adding, “It’s not unusual to work with an individual family for months, even years, to educate them on the value of homeownership as an asset that can become a legacy for their children.”
“It’s not an easy job and is often sad and frustrating,” she sighed. On one home visit with a single mother, the conditions were so bad she thought the building should be condemned. During that visit, the son revealed he gets off the school bus two blocks away so no one sees where he lives. One day, an elderly woman came to the office looking for a home to rent. Cynthia asked her why she didn’t want to buy one. The woman said she was too old for that. Cynthia responded that her age was not a factor and that buying a home had many benefits because rent could go up anytime and the landlord could kick you out. She listened and decided to buy a home. Now she is a happy homeowner.
Cynthia’s greatest joy is finding homes for first-generation homeowners. Then, their children and grandchildren come back saying you helped my grandmother or mother to get a home, and now they want the same help. The impact of their work is measured by the pride that homeownership instills in families which in turn shows pride in their community.
Cynthia says she is driven by the desire to make a difference, but that isn’t without its challenges as affordable land in the region is difficult to come by. They rely on donations of land by municipalities and individuals, donations of homes that can be moved to a new location, and cash support—all of which are tax-deductible. If you can support this vital organization, reach out to Cynthia at Cynthia.firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 407-878-3759
Another way to support Goldenrule is to attend their upcoming fundraiser, a Florida Classic After Party being held on November 18 at 7PM at the Ritz Theater in downtown Sanford. The event is a Motown and Philadelphia Sound tribute concert by the high-energy musical group The Society Band. The band formed in 1970 in Sanford at Crooms High School and they’re still going strong today. Their Motown set list includes songs from Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Smoky Robinson, Frankie Beverly and Maze, The Temptations, Philadelphia sounds, Kool and the Gang, and more. Tickets are available online at https://tinyurl.com/ritzsocietyband.