Tuesday Nov. 7th is Election Day

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If you live in the City of Miami, Miami Beach, Homestead or Hialeah, and you haven’t voted early or by mail, get out and vote TODAY, Tuesday, November 7, 2017. There are races for mayor, councilman, charter amendments and and questions on bonds that are to be decided. Every election is important. Your vote matters.

The polls are open from 7am until 7pm. Visit the Miami-Dade County Department of Elections online if you have any questions.

Run-off elections are scheduled for November 21, 2017 for the cities of Miami, Miami Beach and Hialeah. 

 

 


Obamacare the Hot Topic at Pumps, Pearls & Politics Forum Nov. 5

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Miami, FL – October 30, 2017 – The Fifth Annual Pumps, Pearls & Politics presented by the Connection Committee of the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority switches its signature event to a community conversation format with the hot topic of Obamacare taking center stage.

In an increasingly polarized political environment, health care reform has been caught in the cross fire of the partisan struggle, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. Special guest, health-care attorney and author Daniel E. Dawes, will present the truth on the secret backstory of the Affordable Care Act, shedding light on the creation and implementation of the greatest and most sweeping equalizer in the history of American health care. His eye-opening and authoritative narrative written from an insider’s perspective, 150 Years of ObamaCare, debunks contemporary understandings of health care reform. It also provides a comprehensive and unprecedented review of the health equity movement and the little-known leadership efforts that were crucial to passing public policies and laws reforming mental health, minority health, and universal health.

If You Go:
What: Pumps, Pearls & Politics 2017: The Truth About the Affordable Care Act
When: Sunday, November 5, 2017, 4:00 PM
Where: Allen Chapel AME Church, 1201 NW 111 Street, Miami, Florida 33167
Admission: FREE (Register at http://pumpspearlspolitics2017.eventbrite.com.)

For more information email Natasha Hines, Connection Chair at pumpspearlspolitics@gmail.com.


Topdog/Underdog begins Nov. 2 at the Arsht Center

 

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Zoetic Stage and
the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
present

TOPDOG/UNDERDOG
By Suzan-Lori Parks

A Pulitzer Prize-winning dark comedy about brotherhood and family identity


Opens the 2017-2018 season for Zoetic Stage and
the Arsht Center’s Theater Up Close Series

Zoetic Stage and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County are proud to present TOPDOG/UNDERDOG, a Pulitzer Prize-winning dark comedy by Suzan-Lori Parks. Playing November 2 – November 19, 2017 in the intimate Carnival Studio Theater (Ziff Ballet Opera House), TOPDOG/UNDERDOG launches Zoetic Stage’s 2017-2018 season at the Arsht Center as part of the Center’s highly-acclaimed Theater Up Close Series.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, TOPDOG/UNDERDOG is a darkly comic tale of brotherhood and family identity. The play tells the story of Lincoln (Eddie Brown) and Booth (Marckenson Charles), two African-American brothers (whose names were given to them as a joke) coping with women, work, poverty, gambling, racism, and their troubled upbringings. Haunted by the past, the brothers are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future.

Zoetic Stage was founded in 2010 to create fresh, bold interpretations of contemporary plays and musicals, and is dedicated to enhancing South Florida’s national artistic profile by producing regional premieres and developing new works to become part of the American stage repertoire. The company will co-present three more exciting productions with the Arsht Center in the 2017-2018 season. Zoetic Stage’s 7th anniversary season will continue with the world premiere of Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts (January 18 – February 4, 2018), the latest work by Christopher Demos-Brown, award-winning writer of Stripped, American Son and Fear Up Harsh; the South Florida premiere of Dancing Lessons (March 8 – March 25, 2018), Mark St. Germain’s poignant and hilarious romantic comedy; and the South Florida premiere of the five-time Tony Award-winning musical, Fun Home (April 12 – May 13, 2018).

Tickets to TOPDOG/UNDERDOG may be purchased through the Adrienne Arsht Center Box Office by calling (305) 949-6722, or online at www.arshtcenter.org.

 


Derrick Johnson Elected President and CEO of NAACP

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), America's largest and original legacy civil rights organization, unanimously elected Derrick Johnson president and CEO. He has a three-year term. Johnson, 49, has served as interim president and CEO since July of this year.

A Detroit native now residing in Jackson, Mississippi, Mr. Johnson, who was also elected vice-chairman of the Board of Directors in February of this year, is a longtime member, leader and a respected veteran activist who will be tasked with guiding the NAACP through a period of tremendous challenge and opportunity at a key point in its 108-year history. The NAACP has undergone transitions in leadership this year as it re-envisions itself to take on a tumultuous and contentious social and political climate.

Mr. Johnson has an extensive history and career legacy of civil rights activism. He formerly served as state president of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, where he successfully spearheaded campaigns for voting rights, worker's rights and equitable education, and he additionally is the founder and executive director of One Voice, Inc., a Jackson-based non-profit organization conceived in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to enhance the quality of life for African Americans through civic engagement training and initiatives.

Additionally, as a past regional organizer with Southern Echo, Inc., another local non-profit organization, Mr. Johnson provided legal, technical and training support to communities spanning the south. He was appointed to the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission by the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, owing to his years of committed service to the people of the state.

Having earned a solid educational foundation, Mr. Johnson attended historically black Tougaloo College of Mississippi, before going on to earn his Juris Doctorate degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston. He was later awarded fellowships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He proudly serves on the board of directors of both the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.

 


Florida to Launch Online Voter Registration October 1

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The Florida Department of State is scheduled to launch its new online voter registration website on Sunday, October 1, 2017. According to state officials, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, offers Florida residents another way to register to vote or update an existing registration. The website is touted as convenient, secure and easy-to-use. The website will go live as directed by the Florida Legislature in Section 97.0525 Florida Statutes.

In 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill directing the department to implement online voter registration on October 1, 2017. Florida joins 35 other states and the District of Columbia that have online voter registration available to their residents.

Any Florida resident who is eligible to vote or is already registered to vote in Florida can use RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov to submit an application, update an existing registration or prefill an application form to print and deliver to a Supervisor of Elections office.

Contrary to current voter registration procedure, users will need a Florida driver license or state identification (ID) card and the last four digits of their social security number to register online. Currently, only one of the three is required to register to vote. Once an individual’s identity is verified and the application is deemed complete, a voter information card is issued by the local Supervisor of Elections office.

Investigations confirming Russian attempts to hack America’s elections have heightened concerns regarding potential manipulation of registration and voting data.
RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov proclaims multiple safeguards in place to verify and protect a person’s identity and personal information, including a state-of-the-art firewall, data encryption, captcha boxes, session time-out after inactivity and the use of multi-screens. The website requires information that only the person seeking to register or change an existing registration should know, such as the issue date of their Florida driver license or state ID card, their Florida driver license or state ID card number and the last four digits of their social security number. All of this information is verified in real-time in order for a person to complete the application process online. If the information cannot be verified, a person is not able to move forward with submitting the application electronically. Additionally, there is no retention of data within the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website because it is securely transmitted to an internal system.

RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is offered in English and Spanish, is accessible for persons with disabilities and is mobile-friendly.

If you choose to use this new system, feel free to share your experience at vbyers@bloggingblackmiami.com. What’s most important is that you get out and vote. 

 

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@vanessawbyers

 

 


Proud And Persistent: The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. Celebrates 40th Anniversary At Annual Symposium Workshop & Awards Luncheon

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WASHINGTON/PRNewswire/ -- The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. (BWA) celebrated its 40th anniversary, Thursday, September 21, 2017, hosting its Annual Symposium Workshop & Awards Luncheon in the nation's capital and encouraging the more than 1,200 elected officials, journalists, corporate and community leaders and members of its National Collaborating Organizations who attended the event to help chart a path for the future.


"For 40 years, The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. has protected, secured, and advanced, the issues and rights of African-American women and their families," explained BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess. "Today we pay tribute to our founders. In these anxious and uncertain times, we also reaffirm our commitment to speaking truth to power and securing for Black women all of the opportunities and privileges America promises its citizens."
During its Awards Luncheon, BWA continued the tradition of recognizing the achievements of phenomenal women. This year's award recipients included:


The Honorable Kamala D. Harris – Dynamic U.S. Senator representing the State of California and a lifelong public safety and civil rights leader. Serving as California's Attorney General, Harris prosecuted transnational gangs exploiting women and children and trafficking in guns and drugs. As a member of the Senate, she co-introduced a bipartisan bill which encourages states to reform or replace the practice of money bail. She spoke out against President Donald Trump's decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and called upon him to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides immigrant students who arrived in the U.S. as children with temporary relief from deportation. Senator Harris was presented with BWA's President's Award.


April Ryan – White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Network and a political analyst for CNN, accepted BWA's Education Award. A member of the White House press corps for more than 20 years, Ryan has distinguished herself by conducting one-on-one interviews with Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as key members of their administration. She has also kept issues of interest and importance to minorities front and center by posing tough questions to President Donald Trump and his staff during press conferences and White House briefings.


Cadet Simone Askew – The first African-American woman to lead the 4,400 Corps of Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point received BWA's Pinnacle Award. An international history major from Fairfax, VA, Askew assumed the highest position in the cadet chain of command last month. As first captain, she is responsible for the overall performance of the Corps of Cadets as well as serving as a liaison between the cadets and the military school's administration.


Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH – Executive Vice President Ascension and President and Chief Executive Officer Ascension Health Care, was the recipient of BWA's Health Award. Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. Dr. Maryland has responsibility for the strategic and operational aspects of Ascension Healthcare, with more than 141 hospitals and 2500 sites of care in 24 states and Washington, DC.


Dr. Hazel N. Dukes – President, NAACP New York State Conference, was introduced as the organization's Economic and Business Awardee. Dr. Dukes has a long and devoted record of helping to improve the quality of life in New York State, promoting equality and human rights, and linking business, government, and social causes. Dr. Dukes also serves on the NAACP National Board of Directors and the organization's Executive Committee.


Briana Richardson – a freshman at Spelman College, majoring in political science received BWA's Bright Future Award, which recognizes a student or group of students whose academic achievements and service to school and community distinguish them as future leaders and success stories. The co-founder and president of her high school's "The Activist Among Us Club," Richardson was named by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick as one of the state's "Outstanding Young People."


This year, BWA's perennially popular workshop invited women to focus on themselves by "Living Your Best Life at Every Age." Moderated by lawyer and television personality Star Jones, the interactive forum encouraged the nearly 700 participants to broaden horizons, welcome challenges and agitate norms. Panelists included: Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications, Inc.; Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO, Black Women's Health Imperative; Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Ph.D., Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, Howard University and former president of Shaw University; Cadet Simone Askew, First Captain, Corps of Cadets, United States Military Academy; Nikki Giovanni, Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech University and a celebrated poet, writer, and activist, and Claudia Jones, Senior VP, Public Affairs and Communications, AT&T.


BWA also hosted an Inform & Inspire workshop for middle-school age girls enrolled in a Washington, DC chapter of Girls, Inc. The program featured Kara McCullough, a physical scientist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the reigning Miss USA who, in a lively, candid discussion, reminded the girls that pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, setting goals and working hard to realize them can be a beautiful thing.


In the United States these days, the word "out" is popping up with disturbing frequency," said BWA's Hess. "There are people who want to kick LGBTQ service people 'out' of the military. There are those who are in favor of building a wall to keep immigrants 'out' of our country. Officials are redrawing districts in various cities to keep some citizens 'out' of the voting booths. That's not who we are as a nation, and it can't be what we allow America to become. Today, I ask you to reject the politics of fear, hatred, and division and focus instead on the word 'in.' Invite, inform, inspire, initiate, instruct, invest, innovate, include. We must take an active role in reclaiming this nation's conscience, and we must begin this work today."

 


Labor Day Memories in Florida: Racism, Respect and Equity Unrealized

Today is Labor Day, a federal holiday celebrated here in the United States. Schools are closed. Most governmental entities on all levels are closed. Banks are closed. There is no mail delivery. Many people are not working. They will flock to the beach or enjoy cookouts or just relax in front of a television or take advantage of sales at the mall or online. So, what is the purpose of this holiday we call Labor Day?

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September, was designed to honor the American Labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the success of the nation. Labor Day Weekend is also considered the end of summer. 

My email boxes have been overrun with perfunctory messages acknowledging and celebrating Labor Day. The message below was very different as it conveys the true sacrifice of American labor. It touches upon a movement not discussed nearly enough. It impacted me personally as both of my parents participated in the Florida Statewide Teachers' Walkout which resulted in my family relocating to Miami. Please read this reflection penned by NAACP Florida State Conference President and NAACP National Board of Directors member Adora Obi Nweze.

 

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Subject: Labor Day Memories

Good Morning All,

This Labor Day marks a special time for many of us. It marks the 50th year Anniversary of the Florida Teachers' Walk Out. The purpose of the Walk Out was to fight for many working rights that we did not have. As members of the working class, I still can't believe all we endured in the face of criticisms hurled at us daily throughout the Walk Out. The memories will be seared in my mind forever. The pain of being told that , "real teachers were in the classroom". I remember the tears that flowed from my eyes, knowing that I loved all children just as l loved my own. And I still do and always. I began my teaching career feeling the fight would never end. Little did I know I would be right. During my years as a Miami-Dade County Public Schools District Administrator in the areas of Title 1 , Special Education, Teen Parent programs and other Alternative Education programs, I never forgot for one day, my experiences as a teacher. I wanted every teacher to know that I was privileged to work with them and that they were a part of the most honorable professions in the world. They deserved to be paid, respected, honored and treated like the top professionals that they were and would always be.

This year, I have been invited by the Florida Education Association (FEA) to participate as one of the major speakers to dialogue about the WalkOut days. I feel honored to share publicly for the first time my own experiences. Many thanks to FEA for the opportunity. No matter where I go or what I do, I will always be a Master Teacher and a member of the World's Number One Profession.

Adora Obi Nweze

As American workers continue to address working conditions, income disparity and fight for livable wages. As the assault and dismantling of public education and labor unions continue, the significance of Labor Day should be shared with the generations of Americans that have benefited from the sacrifices of those who paved the way for equal pay, equal rights and civil rights. I recall my parents praise for the teacher unions (FEA and United Teachers of a Dade) for ensuring black teachers the same pay as their white colleagues. Also, opportunities for educational and employment advancement for all teachers were celebrated and appreciated.

I thank my parents, Adora Obi Nweze, and every other teacher who participated in the movement that forever changed labor laws in Florida. Unfortunately, the courage and faith it took to choose dignity, integrity, respect and equality rather than endure disparate working conditions may no longer be embraced by this current generation of leaders and workers. Locally, many of the gains of the striking teachers appear to have been lost especially when it comes to advocating for and ensuring the effective teaching and learning of black children and advocating and ensuring there are education leadership opportunities for community-oriented black administrators. 

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One of my favorite writers and commentators is trial lawyer Chuck Hobbs of Tallahassee. To fully understand and frame this holiday we celebrate, I strongly encourage you to read and share his post: The Labor Day Holiday derives from racism and violence towards Black Workers. Here's an excerpt:

In May of 1886, the Haymarket Riot in Chicago erupted when workers who were staging a peaceful protest were met by a contingent of police officers. A bomb exploded, gunfire was exchanged, four people were killed and four anarchists were later hanged.

While an unofficial commemoration of the Haymarket Riot would come to be celebrated as “Labor Day,” seven years after the Haymarket Riot, during President Grover Cleveland’s second non-successive administration (Cleveland served from 1884-88; Benjamin Harrison served interregnum from 1888-92, when Cleveland won again), a Pullman Railroad Strike that placed America dangerously close to a second civil war would serve as the backdrop of what would officially become the Labor Day holiday that we still observe.

Inarguably there is still much work to be done to change the consciousness of Black people, strategize, energize and mobilize for progress. We have the opportunity to effect positive change. Do we have the courage? Do we have will? To the disdain of our forebearers, have we essentially been neutered into lip service and excuses? 

There are far too few examples of leaders in the Black community in Miami that demonstrate the integrity and intestinal fortitude to truly fight the good fight for the people rather than for their individual notoriety or financial gain. Let's support people who support us. Most important let's start by supporting ourselves and our community. 


Celebrating the Fourth of July? Think on this.

IMG_0006Frederick Douglass

On this day, the United States of America celebrates Independence Day or the Fourth of July. It is the day the nation published its Declaration of Independence from the British empire. Let us also keep in context, the reality of the enslavement and barbaric treatment of many Africans during that same period. Let us always remember and not allow others to ignore the reality that the vestiges of slavery still remain.

Here are excerpts of an almost hour-long speech delivered by abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1852.

…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

...What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.

...To him, your celebration is a sham. Your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the Earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Enjoy your cookouts, shopping discounts and day off from work but think on Frederick Douglass and this speech.

Related Link: Full text of speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" 

 


URGENT AND IMPORTANT: Town Hall Meetings on the 2017-2018 Miami-Dade County Public Schools Budget

 

Come out and get informed on the Miami-Dade County Public Schools budget for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. This is all the more important as Florida Governor Rick Scott has called a Special Legislative Session for June 7 - 9. 

Public education can be saved through an informed, engaged and proactive citizenry. Don’t miss your opportunity to ask questions; get informed and network with other concerned citizens.

Attachment - English Town Hall Flyer

Attachment - Creole Town Hall Flyer

Attachment - Spanish Town Hall Flyer

 

 

 


Have Your Say in Shaping the Future of Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade County Evaluation and Appraisal Report

 

The County is updating the Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) to guide growth for the next 20 years. This comprehensive assessment only occurs every seven years. Your input is needed. Your vision can make a positive impact on the future of the County. 

Visit the EAR2018 website to learn more about the process, take the EAR survey and find a public workshop in your area: www.miamidade.gov/planning/ear-2018.asp.

 

Public Town Hall Workshops will be starting on June 6, 2017.

Survey: Take the EAR2018 survey!

EAR2018@miamidade.gov

http://www.miamidade.gov/planning/ear-2018.asp

 

Attend one of the meetings listed below: 

Date and Time 

Location 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 

6:00 pm to 8:30 pm 

Kendall Village Center – Civic Pavilion 

8625 SW 124 Avenue, Miami, FL 33183 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 

6:00 pm to 8:30 pm 

Ruben Dario Middle School 

350 NW 97 Avenue, Miami, FL 33172 

Thursday, June 8, 2017 

6:00 pm to 8:30 pm 

African Heritage Cultural Arts Center 

6161 NW 22 Avenue, Miami, FL 33142 

Saturday, June 10, 2017 

10:00 am to noon 

Norman and Jean Reach Park 

7895 NW 176 Street, Miami, FL 33015 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 

6:30 pm to 9:00 pm 

Highland Oaks Park 

20300 NE 24 Avenue, Miami, FL 33180 

Saturday, June 17, 2017 

10:00 am to noon 

South Dade Regional Library 

10750 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay, FL 33189 

 

REMEMBER: You're either at the table or you're on the menu!

 

 


Miami-Dade County School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III Urges the extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals

Dr. Steve Gallon III
Dr. Steve Gallon III



At today's regular monthly meeting of the Miami-Dade School Board, District 1 School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III will advance agenda item H-18, authorizing Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho to urge Pres. Donald Trump and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals for at least another 18-month period. 
 
TPS was granted to Haitian nationals who were in the U.S. as of January 12, 2010, the date of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The U.S. has provided a safe haven to approximately 50,000 Haitians who have been unable to return to their home country because of insurmountable environmental obstacles, deadly diseases and violence. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted a six-month extension in TPS to Haitian nationals on Monday. The sad reality is Haiti will be in no better position to humanely receive and care for the more than 50,000 people affected, when the extension expires January 22, 2018.
 
The vast majority of these individuals has been in the US for at least 6 1/2 years, well before the 2010 earthquake, and has strong community ties including families with U.S.-born children. Haiti’s government is in no position to insure the safety to or assimilate these 50,000 Haitians, nor to make up for their remittances should they be curtailed by their deportation, and it remains unsafe to deport them. Their deportation would consequently tend to destabilize Haiti, which is contrary to the national security interest of the U.S.
 
DHS’s announcement extending Haiti’s TPS designation for six months, rather than the usual 18 months, sends mixed signals and omits significant facts.  The announcement stresses this is likely the last extension, that TPS holders should prepare their travel documents for return to Haiti, and that conditions have greatly improved. Further, the announcement also misleadingly states, “96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps.  Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed.” This is misleading because many camps were forcibly closed due to regular, unchallenged, large-scale evictions by landowners, not because other housing had been found, which it had not been, or because residents had any place else to go.  This has been a huge problem in Haiti.  Even more significantly, several of the larger camps were reclassified by the Haitian government as "permanent housing," simply because the residents had attached so much salvaged building material to their shanties.
 
Recent leaked DHS efforts to demonize Haitians as criminals and welfare cheats as a means of justifying termination were reprehensible: inherently racist, such considerations are irrelevant since TPS is a humanitarian program, TPS recipients are ineligible for welfare, and criminals are ineligible for TPS.
 

The Miami-Dade County School Board Meeting starts 11 a.m., today, in the School Board Administration Building auditorium at 1450 Northeast Second Avenue, Miami, FL 33132. 

 

Taylor’s Closet completes “The Bloom Bus” after being awarded $45,000 grant by StrikeForce 421 to help girls in need through faith and shopping

Bloom Bus
Mobile boutique bus caters to girls who would otherwise be unable to participate in life-changing empowerment programs

 
 
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Taylor’s Closet, a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower teenage girls in need is pleased to announce that they have completed “The Bloom Bus” project after being awarded a $45,000 grant by the StrikeForce 421 Giving Circle, a group of 100 women committed to donating $100,000 annually.
 
In keeping with their goal to expand their outreach program, Taylor’s Closet strives to empower hurting teenaged girls by “shopping” for free designer clothing while engaging in a healthy dialogue about important issues that affect each of their lives. “The Bloom Bus,” which is an entirely new concept allows the organization to help girls who do not have access to transportation or live further away from its location at 1227 NE 8th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL, by driving the bus to wherever the girls are.
 
“We are thankful for the generosity of StrikeForce 421 for making the dream of a haven for these girls a reality,” said Greg Martin, Principal with Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Taylor’s Closet. During the past few years, Taylor’s Closet has partnered with Fort Lauderdale High School and has seen tremendous results with the girls who have attended its programs for a one-year period; more than 90 percent of participants experienced improvements in the areas of attendance, behavior, and GPA. Additionally, Taylor’s Closet recently launched the “Bloom” program where they meet with over 50 girls weekly at the Fort Lauderdale High School to bring the mission of the organization to the classroom.
 
The weekly meetings have become a safe space for teenage girls to discuss success and failures and create life-long bonds that are typically missing in high schools. The sessions include icebreakers, refreshments, lessons on key topics, as well as open discussions. The meetings culminate with the girls holding hands and talking about all the good things that happened to them throughout the week.
 
The bus, which is open to the girls who attend and participate in the Bloom program, features a mobile store filled with new clothing and accessories from a variety of designers they can shop from at no cost to them. Taylor’s Closet wishes to use the bus as a gateway to reach each girl on a deeper level. “We are thrilled at the outcome of The Bloom Bus,” added Linda Giambattista, Executive Director of Taylor’s Closet. “We wanted to use the bus as a tool to accomplish our mission of helping teenage girls realize their value and worth, and we achieved that and more.”
 
With the mission to greatly impact local Christian ministries, StrikeForce 421 is a network of 100 women who pull together to give over $100,000 in grants annually in support of ministries that touch the lives of children on a daily basis. “Rather than leaving little impact to an abundance of ministries, our goal is to fund entire projects that could take a few ministries’ influence to a whole new level,” said JoAnne Daudt, Founder of StrikeForce 421.
 
Established in 2006, Taylor’s Closet is the result a then 14-year-old girl’s dream to share her love of shopping and fashion with less fortunate teenaged girls in her community. The mission of Taylor’s Closet is to create a community in which teenaged girls in need will be empowered to break the cycle of abuse and neglect and live happy, healthy, and productive lives, realizing their God-given destiny through the power of faith and shopping. The charity allows for hurting teenaged girls to “shop” for free designer clothing while engaging in a healthy dialogue about important issues that affect each of their lives. The organization also conducts weekly workshops focused on design and art to help teenaged girls unlock their creative talents. For more information about Taylor’s Closet, please visit http://www.taylorscloset.org/
.