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Ocala
Friday, June 14, 2024

Mayor awards first ‘Citizen of the Month’ award to former WNBA player helping county’s ‘most vulnerable’

Ocala’s mayor doled out his first “Citizen of the Month” award to a former professional basketball player who founded a nonprofit that helps children in foster care.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Ocala City Council, Mayor Ben Marciano presented the first Citizen Recognition Award to Grace Daley, who spent over a half decade playing professional basketball in the United States and internationally.

“This was probably, I guess it was about 2 months ago. I was thinking about you know, just our community, and how awesome it is, and just the people that serve here, but specifically, I was thinking about Grace and her heart, and the difference that she makes in our community,” said Marciano.

Grace Daley accepts the first Citizen Recognition Award from Mayor Ben Marciano during Tuesday night's meeting of the Ocala City Council.
Grace Daley accepts the first Citizen Recognition Award from Mayor Ben Marciano during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Ocala City Council. (Photo: City of Ocala)

Daley is the founder of Every Day Jesus, a nonprofit organization that unites churches and child-serving agencies.

“I’ll always see Grace at an event, doing something, and making a difference. You really set the example for serving God and serving others, which I think is the philosophy for life if you’re looking for peace and happiness. Tonight, we want to recognize you and honor you with our first Citizen of the Month,” said Maricano.

During her remarks on Tuesday, Daley highlighted her faith-led journey and spoke passionately about the “foster care crisis” in Marion County. She said 50% of the kids in foster care are concentrated in 5% of the counties nationwide, and Marion County is one of those counties.

“I have dual citizenship…I’m a proud citizen of Marion County, I’m also a citizen of Heaven,” said Daley. “And the goal and the work that I have been able to engage in is truly to create a community where it is on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Daley said she feels compelled to help the over 700 children who are without parents in Marion County. Borrowing from Tim Tebow, she labeled those children “the most vulnerable persons” in Marion County.

Grace Daley is the founder of Every Day Jesus
Grace Daley is the founder of Every Day Jesus, a nonprofit that helps children in Marion County’s foster care network. (Photo: Every Day Jesus)

“God has placed a heavy burden on my heart to really just try to be a champion for that,” said Daley, referring to the county’s 735 children in out of home care.

“This is the year that we’re going to see this thing shift. This is the year that it’s going to become on Earth as it is in Heaven for the children. And it’s going to take a united effort,” said Daley.

For more information on Daley’s nonprofit or work in the community, visit Every Day Jesus online.

The Citizen Recognition Award, which the mayor has referred to as Ocala’s “Citizen of the Month” award, was first announced during the council’s meeting on April 4.

According to the city, nominees must live in Ocala and must “have made a positive impact on the community that may have gone unrecognized.” Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. on the last Monday of each month.

To nominate a citizen or read the full criteria, visit the Mayor’s Citizen Recognition Award webpage.