Save Our Sons teaches young men the basics to succeed in business world

The seventh annual Save Our Sons Youth Summit, hosted by Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center, inspired young men to excel through workshops and activities. AT&T representatives surprised the group with a check for $25,000 to support community programs. From left, Lyle Grandison, president of Respect for Life Educational Services; Stephen Marino, Overtown Youth Center board chairman; Cristal Cole, AT&T Florida-External Affairs; Tina Brown, executive director OYC; Shawn Blanchard, keynote speaker; and Kevin Vericker, city of Miami mayor’s office. Photo provided by Overtown Youth Center


JUNE 28, 2017 5:50 PM

Save Our Sons teaches young men the basics to succeed in business world

Dreary I-95 underpasses could get Miami-style makeovers with art and light

Three different proposals could change the look of underpasses in several Miami neighborhoods. Carl Juste; Edited by Justin Azpiazu Miami Herald


JUNE 24, 2017 7:00 AM

Dreary I-95 underpasses could get Miami-style makeovers with art and light

AT&T Donates $25K to Overtown Youth Center

The gift will support Overtown Youth Center’s Save Our Sons​ initiative, which was created to develop and enhance the lives of young men.

AT&T Donates $25K to Overtown Youth Center

MIAMI, FL — AT&T recently delivered a surprise check for $25,000 to the Overtown Youth Center’s 4th Annual Save Our Sons (SOS) Youth Summit.

“AT&T believes it is critical for students to have access to the tools and support systems they need to graduate high school, and succeed in college and they enter the workforce,” said Cristal Cole, AT&T Florida external affairs. “We are proud to support community programming provided by organizations like the Overtown Youth Center, who help foster a safe environment where children can dream big and access the resources they need to be successful in life.” (Sign up for our free Daily Newsletters and Breaking News Alerts for the Miami Patch.)

The nonprofit will use the AT&T contribution to support its Save Our Sons initiative, which was created to develop and enhance the lives of young men primarily in the Overtown community.

The Overtown program links mentoring and training programs with an ultimate goal of creating lifelong partnerships that transform failing support systems for young men in urban communities.

Co-founded by real-estate developer Martin Z. Marguiles and NBA Hall-of-Famer Alonzo Mourning, OYC is a year-round youth development program providing in-school, after school and summer program services, a parent enrichment program and post-high school support to over 400 students in the Overtown neighborhood and surrounding areas. The program offers a full range of services including educational enrichment, recreational activities, mentoring, literacy initiatives, performing arts, prevention and life skills/training for at-risk youth. For more information, visit

The gift was provided by AT&T Aspire, which is the company’s signature philanthropic initiative to drive innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear. The company has already donated $250 million out of a planned $350 million set aside for such programs between 2008-2017.

Photo from left: Lyle Grandison, president, Respect for Life; Stephen Marino, OYC board chairman; Cristal Cole, AT&T external affairs; Tina Brown, OYC executive director; Shawn Blanchard, SOS Youth Summit keynote speaker; Kevin Vericker, City of Miami mayor’s office. Courtesy AT&T.

PAMM and Overtown Youth Center Create Public Art at Omni Park

Students from the Overtown Afterschool program at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) spent an afternoon at Omni Park, creating “pop-up” public art installations inspired by the works of artist Michael Loveland.

With the help of teaching artists, the students utilized a non-traditional, but very familiar material – plastic yard signage. Typically utilized for political campaigns and advertisements, these young artists created visual messages inspired by public art and spaces. ​​

Omni Park is a seven-acre public, green space that is equipped with a skate fixture, community event space, mobile library, and public art installation highlighting the community members and culture of South Florida. It is also host to live performances, the Boho Market, and other programs. With the help of the CRA, the once blighted and unused land is now a green, accessible playground. The Omni CRA is committed to the preservation and enhancement of property values, stimulating the creation of new job opportunities for residents, and improving the quality of life of those who reside within the redevelopment neighborhoods.


Professional musicians repay their mentors by giving free lessons to Miami youngsters

Nicolaus Gelin, 14, performing at The Gleason Room at the Fillmore Miami Beach.

When Nicolaus Gelin started middle school at Young Men’s Preparatory Academy in Wynwood, he dreamed of being in the school’s music program.

“I saw them play at the pep rallies and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Nicolaus, 14.

The opportunity came in 2013, when the school’s former band director told Nicolaus there was going to be free guitar lessons after school twice a week.

“I went home immediately, asked my mom and I signed up the next day,” Nicolaus said.

The free guitar lessons were sponsored by Young Musicians Unite, a nonprofit organization that provides free music education to more than 70 students in areas of Miami such as Overtown and Wynwood. They are funded through grants from Citizens Interested in the Arts and Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs’ The Youth Arts Enrichment Program, and through partnerships with bands such as Arrowhead, Avalanche and Ripcord.

Young Musicians Unite was founded in 2013 and is led by Sammy Gonzalez, 31, a Miami Beach professional musician who learned to play guitar in the public school system.

“If the free music education I received while in school didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be a musician right now. Which is crazy because I work sometimes 80-plus hours a week doing what I love,” Gonzalez said. “It’s all possible thanks to the great mentors I had that were constants in my life while growing up.”

Gonzalez wanted to give back to public schools that lack financial support in the arts.

YMU started in partnership with the band Reckless Youth, whose members Gonzalez gave private lessons to. The funds collected at performances went directly to buying guitars for Young Men’s Prep Academy and to fund the after-school program.

“The parents of the band members had already a vision for me,” Gonzalez said. “The first shows Reckless Youth played, we donated the money to other foundations. Then the parents and I decided to keep the funds within what we are doing. We said, ‘Why don’t we go into a neighborhood that doesn’t have a great music program?’ ”

Almost four years later, YMU has expanded to provide music education to any student interested in learning from Young Men’s Prep Academy, Jose de Diego Middle School, Booker T. Washington High School and the Overtown Youth Center.

Students who participate in YMU become members of a classical guitar ensemble, a jazz ensemble or a student rock band.

Gonzalez joined forces with Allan Valladares and Juan Camilo Pelaez to mentor the students. All three are New World School of the Arts alumni.

“Sammy is very passionate about this cause,” Pelaez said. “Helping him and spending time with the kids teaching them music brings me great satisfaction because I feel I’m making a difference in their lives.”

After a year of learning guitar under Gonzalez, Nicolaus found his passion in playing the trumpet. Gonzalez helped him score a private lesson with New World Symphony fellow Aaron Norlund.

“I was shocked how good Nicolaus was. He was like a dry sponge ready to absorb as much knowledge as he possibly could in the time we spent together,” Norlund said. “Not only musically was I impressed, but in his ability to communicate. It’s really remarkable to see the support he receives from his parents.”

Nicolaus’ mother, Maryline Gelin, is a physical therapist and his father, Sonder Gelin, is self employed in the transportation field.

Nicolaus auditioned and got accepted to New World School of the Arts High School’s class of 2020.

“Because of Sammy, Nicolaus was able to get help,” Maryline Gelin said. “Sammy is doing wonderful work. The kids flourish through his program, it’s very effective. I appreciate the doors that have been open to Nicolaus.”

YMU students each get eight to 10 lessons a month. All students receive their own instruments, sheet music and other related materials.

Gonzalez hopes to bring YMU to every school in Miami-Dade.

“My vision is to impact as many kids as I can, change their lives, give them music,” Gonzalez said. “Some are just gonna play during our lessons and maybe never play again, but some are gonna make a career out of it and go on to better places.”

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