Alayne Unterberger & Florida Institute for Community Studies (FICS)

click to enlarge Alayne Unterberger, founder of FICS. - PHOTO BY TODD BATES
Alayne Unterberger, founder of FICS.

FICS’ high-minded name doesn’t quite suggest the vital gathering spot Alayne Unterberger has created for the families of Town 'N Country in an unprepossessing strip-mall storefront. But that’s because the community center is only part of what the organization does, which includes research projects on disadvantaged and rural populations and initiatives to fight drug use and gang violence. But the beating heart of it all is the Multicultural Family Center, serving the area’s amazingly polyglot mix of ethnicities (Cuban, Dominican, Brazilian, African, Jamaican, Mexican, Haitian and many more) with after-school programs, a computer lab, youth summits and a strong emphasis on parental involvement. And Unterberger, a mini-dynamo of seemingly unstoppable energy, keeps it all going with Facebook posts, food fests and a committed staff who, like her, are passionate in their embrace of diversity.