T.A.F.T. (Take Action For Taft)
Every community needs an organization to protect its interest and lifestyle. The residents knew that they needed a “voice.” In 1972 they formed Take Action for Taft (T.A.F.T) to serve that purpose. Longtime resident Kathy Harris suggested the name in a contest. The forerunner for this organization was the Taft Citizens Committee. It was formed in 1955 and consisted of chairman, Mr. Willard White, as well as officers selected by a secret ballot. Its objective was to build a community center, which it did achieve.
T.A.F.T’s by-laws best explain their mission statement; “The object is to build a better community for the enjoyment and pleasure of the people of Taft Florida, and any public enterprise that will be beneficial to the public at large.” Its board consists of seven members and four officers, consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
T.A.F.T. holds public meetings every other first Saturday at the Taft Community Center, allowing concerned citizens to voice their concerns and views. The group also sponsors the annual “Homecoming” event. This event, open to the citizens of Taft, helps reinforce the feeling of community in the area. They also work with the Neighborhood Center for Families in staging a Christmas party for the children of Taft and an Easter egg hunt. The organization also works closely with our elected officials, acting as Taft’s “eyes and ears” with Orange County and has been very active in representing the area in public meetings. It has helped establish a Neighborhood Watch presence in the area working with the Sheriff’s department.
There are many names mentioned in this book that were instrumental in the development of the area. We have mentioned the Sphaler brothers, Nicolas Dennis, J.F.Harrington, Willard White. These people were concerned and involved citizens of their time. Their modern day counterparts would be the people who have served as presidents of T.A.F.T., carrying on the tradition of community involvement. The first president, before the organization was chartered by the state was Mr. William Haily. The first president after receiving their charter was Reverend John Peeples. The fact that both of these men were African-Americans is significant, showing the bipartisan nature of the group. Barbara Burkett was its only female president. Ralph Noe was elected in 1981 and served thee terms. Ray Rogers served from 1984-1986 and later would serve from 1995-1997. Clarence Hoenstein, who would become county commissioner from this district, would be installed in 1987. Bob Cumby led the organization from 1991-1994, being succeeded by Ray Rogers for his second time; Vic Wise would succeed Ray. Vic served until 2000 when present day president, Terry Clark was installed as T.A.F.T.s leader. These citizens have all served the community well.
The citizens of Taft can be proud of its civic organization. Few communities can boast of such a successful and long running group. T.A.F.T. serves as template for similar organizations today. Its thirty years of continued success is a glowing testimony to the people who make it work, the people of Taft.