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“She was a blessing to this community”; SW Gainesville street named after SWAG visionary Joan Canton

Published: Aug. 28, 2021 at 8:38 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Joan Canton Way is a new name for a street where the visionary of Southwest Advocacy Group or SWAG, Joan Canton’s legacy will live on.

In Jan. 2021 Canton died from cancer but in her 79 years she co-founded S.W.A.G which brings a food pantry, clothing, resume building and a health clinic to the Southwest Gainesville community.

“This is not shocking or surprising, this is who mommy was,” Canton’s daughter Kim Daniels said. “How tough she was to get all of this stuff in this community. We know because our momma did not play. She was strict but we knew she loved us.”

She also loved the kids in her neighborhood as her own.

“Kids knew her from little and they never forgot her even though she’s not around anymore,” Canton’s sister Eloise Edwards said. “She was a blessing to this community.”

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To pay tribute to all her hard work, swag advocates hosted a community fair with loved ones and Alachua County commissioners, which provided COVID-19 vaccines and food for residents.

“To say Joan Canton Way means that it really was her way,” Edwards added.

SWAG is still impacting the community more than decade later. One of the Co-founders Dorothy Benson said the area where S.W.A.G.’s family resource center is located wouldn’t have been the same without Joan Canton.

“The visionary, she knew what her community needed,” Benson said.”Instead of just dropping resources down in the community we actually asked folks what do you need in your community and we built our resources based on those answers and that was Joan’s strength. She kept everything community based and focused on the residents who lived here.”

Now when those residents pass Joan canton way, they’ll never forget all her contributions.

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