JUNE 28, 2017 5:50 PM
Save Our Sons teaches young men the basics to succeed in business world
The power to inspire others to excel is in each of us. As Mother Teresa famously said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
At the seventh annual Save Our Sons Youth Summit, young men spent a day acquiring skills in how to excel and better themselves through workshops, activities, an inspirational speaker, and communication with male mentors and role models.
They learned how to tie a necktie while talking about their interests at a workshop called “The Ties that Bond Us.” Every young man also received the gift of a tie.
At “The Game of Life” activity, they discovered how chess and the basic techniques of the game can be applied to everyday life. They studied robotics and rockets at a workshop that emphasized the importance of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills and its influence on 21st century careers.
The event was hosted by Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center and was held June 3 at Jose De Diego Middle School in Miami. During the daylong mentoring initiative, representatives from AT&T surprised attendees by presenting OYC with a check for $25,000 to support its ongoing programming.
Keynote speaker Shawn T. Blanchard began the day by sharing his story and his journey to becoming an acclaimed author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and mentoring specialist.
He told of the challenges he encountered during his formative years from “being born a crack baby to selling drugs at the age of 11 and losing those he loved the most before adulthood.”
Blanchard talks about his life to groups across the country. He seeks to motivate youth to “help them to see their challenges as opportunities to propel them to something greater.”
He presented everyone with a copy of his book, “How ‘Bout That For A Crack Baby: Keys to Mentorship and Success” and awarded nine students and one mentor with a tailored suit from his private suit line. He also contributed a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior.
The Summit welcomed community leaders including Kevin Vericker, Service Officer from the office of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado; Lyle Grandison, president of Respect for Life Educational Services; and Stephen Marino, Overtown Youth Center’s board chairman.
“The SOS Initiative was designed to address issues that impact the positive trajectory of the lives of young men growing up in urban areas,” Marino said in a release. “Save Our Sons is one of my favorite events because not only is it designed to empower young boys but it provides men an opportunity to inspire and bond with each other.”
Cristal Cole of AT&T Florida-External Affairs said her company “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.”
“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.”
To learn more about the SOS Initiative and see photos of the Summit, visit overtownyouth.org/gallery/2017-save-our-sons-youth-summit.
JUNE 24, 2017 7:00 AM
Dreary I-95 underpasses could get Miami-style makeovers with art and light
Beneath the scar tissue of the giant gash through the heart of Miami known as Interstate 95 are a series of dark and dreary underpasses.
These intimidating, wasted spaces, suitable only for trolls, could connect neighborhoods instead of dividing them if only they were enlivened with color and light.
Marcelo Ertorteguy and Sara Valente see four underpasses at Northwest 20th, 29th, 32nd and 35th streets as giant canvases for outdoor art, perfectly suited for a transformation from gun-metal gray walls into murals and abstract paintings.
“Massive infrastructure tends to build barriers between people,” Valente said. “We want to make it an experience for pedestrians and drivers when they pass through the space. Right now it’s a scary tunnel to be avoided.”
They hope “Art-95” will be the first of many Miami projects, a creative way to connect Wynwood and Allapattah. Just look what the Wynwood Walls did for the old warehouse district.
“It’s the right time and place to boost a sense of place in these neighborhoods where lots of changes are happening,” Ertorteguy said. “We want to contribute to the identity of communities by incorporating residents’ ideas and enlisting their help to make it something they own and are proud of.”
The “Art-95” proposal is one of three that seek to bring life to underpasses through the Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge, which awards grants to citizens with ideas for utilizing or beautifying the city’s neglected public spaces.
Natalia Martinez-Kalinina’s “Lighting the Way” proposal would install a colorful LED lighting scheme at Northwest 20th Street to make it more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly and safer at night.
She is general manager of the Cambridge Innovation Center Miami, 1951 NW 7th Ave., the main tenant in the building at that intersection.
“We’re looking at gaps in our immediate neighborhood,” she said. “We want to help engage and connect the health and hospital district, Overtown, Allapattah and the innovation corridor in Wynwood and Brickell. These worlds are in close proximity but very disparate. The underpass is a tangible way to connect them, but it’s a dingy, untapped space. Light is energizing and inviting.”
Martinez-Kalinina intends to get residents, students and employees of startup companies in the area involved in the design, installation and accompanying cleanup of the site, which will be followed by a celebratory block party. She also wants to place “Walk Your City” signs with distance and direction markers to encourage foot and bicycle traffic.
“For example, jump on a Citi Bike in Wynwood and grab lunch at Smart Bites restaurant near our corner,” she said.
About six blocks south, across the street from the Overtown Youth Center, the idea of the “Overtown ArtScape” proposal is to paint the pillars and cement embankment below the I-395 overpass at Northwest 14th Street.
“It’s drab and discolored,” said Djenaba Gregory-Faal, development associate at the youth center. She also wants to refurbish the fencing and adorn it with motivational words and phrases. Neighborhood kids would collaborate with local artist Alex Mijares, who made a mural inside the center’s gym.
“Make it a vibrant corner,” said Gregory-Faal, who is also planning to host pop-up youth art galleries under the highway. “Impoverished spaces make it hard for individuals to believe they can have an impact on their community. We want students to feel invested in the value of their community.”
Detroit’s Dequindre Cut serves as one model. The former railroad line has been converted into a greenway with colorful murals and graffiti painted on the bridge abutments along the trail.
Ertorteguy, who once created a giant interactive electric guitar inside a cargo container, considers underpass art a pilot project.
“It’s a long highway,” he said. “There are hundreds of possibilities.”
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.
Left to right: Javier Alberto Soto, President of The Miami Foundation; Tina Brown, Executive Director of Overtown Youth Center; Yance Torres, Development Director of Overtown Youth Center and Stephen Marino, Board Chair of Overtown Youth Center at the foundation’s 50th Anniversary Signature Grants Awards Ceremony, held June 2.
By MALIKA A. WRIGHT
Special to South Florida Times
MIAMI – In celebration of The Miami Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the foundation awarded $50,000 grants to many local organizations, including Breakthrough Miami, the Overtown Youth Center, Carrfour Supportive Housing, Grameen America and Voices for Children.
Last Friday, the organizations were recognized at The Miami Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Signature Grants Award Ceremony.
“We are at a pivotal point in our program. This funding allows us to create a greater impact in Miami and allows OYC to provide a continuity of services,” Tina Brown, executive director of the Overtown Youth Center, said in an e-mail.
The organizations plan to use their funding to hire, train and develop their staff, which are predominantly people of color.
“We are planning to provide support to additional students in the Little Haiti area,” Brown added.
Overtown Youth Center provides comprehensive in-school, after school and summer programming that includes mentoring, academic enhancement, tutoring, exposure trips, performing and visual arts and other overall support systems for elementary, middle school and high school students at select schools.
With the signature grant, they plan to expand into Miami Edison Senior High School to continue servicing the middle school students from Jose De Diego enrolled in their program that will matriculate at Edison.
Breakthrough Miami builds a vast network of educational resources to increase graduation rates at both the high school and collegiate levels.
“We serve about 1,200 under resourced students throughout Miami-Dade County, so those funds will definitely go far in providing academic resources for our students,” said Dwanita Fields, a senior site director for Breakthrough Miami.
“We recruit students from under resourced areas throughout Miami-Dade County and provide a summer program, as well as, a school year program for them. There is no cost for anyone in our program,” Fields continued.
According to Breakthrough Miami’s grant application, their funding will also be used to accelerate execution of the organization’s three-year plan which includes hiring new staff to implement and manage a new technology platform as well as upgrading and retooling the capacity of existing team members.
Matthew Beatty, the Director of Communications for The Miami Foundation, said the foundation is committed to supporting all of Miami’s residents.
“As Greater Miami surges forward, it is critical that opportunities be equitably distributed across the community. Our 50th Anniversary ‘Opportunity’ Signature Grants are about supporting the social and economic conditions needed for all residents to thrive,” Beatty said. “These grantees have a history of proven success and are clearly positioned to continue driving solutions to achieve even greater impact for the future.
It’s our privilege to support them.”
At the event, each organization expressed gratitude to The Miami Foundation as well as excitement about continuing to improve Miami through its community work.
“The Miami Foundation is one of our key community partners and we are grateful to Mr. Javier Soto and his leadership team; as well as the collective impact that the Miami Foundation has had in many of our communities,” Brown said.
The Miami Foundation announced a round of grants to five organizations Friday. The grants were part of the foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration. It’s investing $1 million over the course of the year to various organizations.
Xavier de Souza Briggs works with the Ford Foundation to promote economic fairness. He was the featured guest at the Miami Foundation’s breakfast on Friday. He said Miami is diverse, but not necessarily inclusive.
“Inclusion requires more than coexisting. It’s about respect, fairness, acts of opportunity generation,” he said.
Miami Foundation President and CEO Javier Alberto Soto announced grant recipients during the event. They include Breakthrough Miami, Carrfour Supportive Housing, Overtown Youth Center, Voices for Children and Grameen America.
Tina Brown is the Overtown Youth Center’s executive director. She said the Miami Foundation grant will help to expand the center’s programs to Little Haiti.
“We’re super excited about the fact that we’ll be able to impact so many more lives — predominantly students who are of Haitian descent and who are of Hispanic descent,” she said.
Overtown Youth Center focuses on youth development through academic and recreational programs. It received $50,000.