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On September 27, 2022, the Jacksonville City Council honored Kevin Gay with a resolution nominating and commencing his work as CEO and Founder of Operation New Hope. Kevin founded the nonprofit 23 years ago to address the problems facing Jacksonville’s Historic Springfield neighborhood – poverty, crime, homelessness, disrepair, and drug addiction – and the organization successfully brought together a community once lost to blight, poverty, and outright neglect. Kevin’s work caught the attention of President Bush and in 2003, he selected Operation New Hope as the pilot site for the Ready4Work program. Kevin has been praised by the last four White House Administrations, as well as, federal, state and local representatives, law enforcement officers, and business leaders. Internationally, Kevin has been recognized by House of Mandela as leading a model program for the world. Kevin retired from Operation New Hope in June 2022.
Former Council President Sam Newby presented the honor to Kevin at Tuesday night’s meeting. Kevin accepted the award by saying, “Thank you for this honor. It touches me more than you can imagine.” He went on to add, “Like all of you, I love this city!”
“Twenty-three years ago, I was trying to find one employer that was willing to hire somebody with a record. It was hard. Today we have over 300 who are willing to step up and hire.”
“I have to say what touched my heart was the 10,000 men, women, and youth that we have been very blessed to work with over the years… they changed me!”
“I am blessed beyond words that I’ve had a chance to be part of this work.”
Following Kevin’s remarks, several City Council Members including Council President Terrance Freeman, Randy DeFoor, Reggie Gaffney, Matt Carlucci, Aaron Bowman, Rory Diamond, Kevin Carrico, Joyce Morgan, and Ju’Coby Pittman added to the honor by sharing their impressions of Kevin.
Kevin was joined by Operation New Hope’s leadership team who he recognized as being prepared to take nonprofit to the next level by creating a Statewide Reentry Network. After providing support and training to people impacted by the justice system in Northeast Florida for the last 23 years, the team is excited by the opening of their newest program location in Orlando, Florida this month. The strong foundation Kevin built will allow Operation New Hope to serve many more thousands who return home to our communities every month.