Nothing—not even a drizzly afternoon—could dampen the spirits or dim the smiles of those gathered Friday, January 31st, for the ribbon cutting ceremony for phase one of the Transitions Life Center (TLC), named the Carmen & Carlos Pascual Community Center.
TLC is a nonprofit whose purpose is to provide a safe, caring and enriching community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization is now headquartered at 3360 NW Gainesville Road, on 22 acres donated by the City of Ocala. Funding for the initial phase of construction came from a Community Development Block Grant and cash and in-kind donations. Several other phases are planned at the property.
“This just started as a little dream of our founders, who wanted something special for their children and everybody just kept joining in and here we are,” said Lucy Johnson, Executive Director of TLC, speaking of the idea birthed by Mike and Linda Paglia, who have three sons with developmental disabilities.
“We were able to get in here debt free and we have all this beautiful property and we’re ready to keep moving forward. So what a great accomplishment,” Johnson told those gathered.
Cristina Pascual became a member of TLC in 2012. It was a dream of her parents, Carmen and Carlos Pascual, for her to have a place to socialize and learn life skills. Christina, flanked by her sister, Carmen Pascual Maines, and brothers Cesar and Charles Pascual, was in the front row for the celebration.
Maines, who is a TLC board member, spoke on behalf of the family.
“We are so grateful to be a part of TLC and that Cristina gets to be a part of this. On the plaque it says, ‘May your walls know joy, each room hold laughter and may every window open to great possibility.’ And that is so apt for this building. It is a blessing to everybody who walks into it,” Maines offered.
“This is exactly what my parents wanted for Cristina,” Maines continued, her voice breaking with emotion. “And it’s a blessing to our whole family to be able to honor our parents in this way. They would be very humbled, and probably a little embarrassed, but they are smiling down on us today and I know they are resting much more peacefully knowing that Cristina is being cared for.”
To learn more about the organization and the center, visit tlcocala.org.