By Chuck Seaver, South Lake Tablet

The City of Groveland hosted a groundbreaking and progress celebration of the soon-to-be brand-new Elese Tomlin Empowerment Center on Thursday, June 13th. The center, which is currently under construction at 824 East Broad Street, is slated for completion later this year.

Dr. Linda Cowels

The project, which was once only a dream, became a reality with the help of Groveland Police Chief Shawn Ramsey and Dr. Linda Cowels, CEO of Anointed Community Services International. The two brainstormed ideas and searched together for available properties in the area. Although the properties at the 800 block of Broad Street were not available at the time due to private ownership, Dr. Cowels never lost interest in the properties. Eventually, the three properties became available and were combined into one. The houses on the property were removed and the land cleared. It was then that Dr. Cowels knew that she had to take action.

Dr. Cowels, whose organization manages the current Elese Tomlin Community Center on Gadson Street, and Chief Ramsey began the search for funding to purchase the property and build a new and bigger center. The City of Groveland secured a grant to fund a portion of the project, but more funds were needed. Representatives from Live Well Foundation of South Lake, Grant Chairperson Susan McLean and Executive Director Donna Kirtland visited Dr. Cowels at the tiny and outdated center on Gadson Street. “After visiting the center and sitting in the car in the parking lot, I looked at Donna and said this is a dream of a Godly woman, starting with Elese Tomlin, passed down to Linda, who has remarkable leadership skills, and we need to find a way to bring her dream to fruition,” said McLean.

The Livewell Foundation of South Lake secured and contributed enough grant funds to make the project a reality. Although ground clearing and foundation preparations have already begun, the official groundbreaking took place on Thursday with dignitaries and representatives attending from the City of Groveland, United States Representative Daniel Webster’s office, the late Elese Tomlin’s family, including granddaughter Mozelle Faniel, Hope International Academy, South Lake Chamber of Commerce and Scorpio Community Centered Construction.

The new Elese Tomlin Empowerment Center will continue to be managed by Anointed Community Services International in partnership with the City of Groveland. Plans for the new facility include the enhancement of educational programs and to provide brand new vocational opportunities aimed at empowering the community members to reach their full potential. From the boosting of English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) to offering avenues for unemployed residents to find better wage-earning jobs, the Empowerment Center is prepared to make a real difference in Groveland.

Groveland City Councilmembers

The Center also provides a program titled Women Ignite Network (WIN) by training and empowering women to succeed through skills for life classes, budgeting classes, parenting classes, entrepreneurship training, business development and formation, health and wellness sessions, experiential work opportunities, and paid internships. The program is a free membership program, based on qualifications, with benefits such as educational scholarships, free gas, discounts from local businesses and more.

​Visit for a full listing of programs offered and center hours.
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