Now serving families in Ocala, Marion County

Man speaks into microphone as crowd surrounds him behind wide ribbon

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We’re excited to announce we are now helping families in Ocala, Florida, and surrounding Marion County.

Volunteers and supporters joined the Better Together team for the ribbon-cutting of our North Central Florida region December 16 at Church of Hope in Ocala, including our first host family in the region.

Woman in crowd holds baby who is wearing elephant hat
Our first host family in the Ocala region attended the ribbon-cutting.

In DCF Circuit 5, which includes Ocala and Marion County, about 70 children a month enter foster care or other out-of-home care each month. To end this crisis, the beverage wholesaler Tri-Eagle Sales pledged the funds needed to expand the Better Families program into the area while Church of Hope rallied volunteers as our first church partner in the region.

Kayla Palacios, who worked 12 years in education, most recently as an assistant principal, oversees operations in the region as the North Central Region Executive Director. Years of working with children who have experienced the trauma of a broken family made her extremely passionate about keeping families together.

Woman speaks into microphone surrounded by celebratory balloons
Better Together North Central Florida Executive Director Kayla Palacios speaks at the ribbon-cutting.

In addition to her work with Better Together, Kayla serves on the worship and kids’ ministry teams at her church and engages in ministry serving children in the foster care system, residents in a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, and people who need free dental, optical and medical care through an organization in the local community. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies and a master’s degree in educational leadership, both from the University of Florida. She is currently working on her doctorate in education in Christian leadership from Liberty University.

Sherry Loria, our first Family Care Coordinator in the new region, also comes from the education field. She served 18 years as a teacher, academic coach and school counselor. She is also a Nationwide Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor who teaches others what to do in crisis and non-crisis situations regarding mental health. Prior to her work in education, Sherry served in the U.S. Navy for eight years. She has a bachelor’s in English from Chaminade University and a master’s in counseling from Webster University.

A special thanks to the Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership, Tri-Eagle Sales and Church of Hope for making this expansion possible.

We look forward to strengthening families in North Central Florida!

A crowd gathers as two women hold giant scissors behind a wide white ribbon
Better Together and supporters marked the nonprofit’s expansion into North Central Florida on December 16 with a ribbon-cutting at the organization’s first church partner in the area, Church of Hope.


Posted January 26, 2023

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We are Participating in Give4Marion, and Need Your Support!

Join us for a 33-hour campaign dedicated to raising money and awareness for nonprofit organizations doing good in Marion County. Fundraising kicks off today and ends at 7 p.m. tomorrow.