Spelman College scholarship fundraiser honoring Brenda Williams
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
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Hard times put kids at risk, as well as programs to serve them
Posted on Fri, Apr. 18, 2008
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER
Florida child welfare administrators are being asked to cut tens of millions of dollars from safety-net programs for vulnerable children at a time when kids may be at greater risk.
Calls to the state's child-abuse hot line were up 17 percent in March over the previous year. Florida's economy is widely believed to be in recession, and reports of child abuse and neglect have been shown to rise during periods of economic hardship.
But lawmakers are considering deep cuts to the very programs run by the Department of Children & Families and other agencies that support struggling families or enable the state to determine which children are most endangered.
As lawmakers confer over details, about $1 billion in social service and healthcare reductions are likely. Cuts to children's services, which would total more than $100 million, already have had an effect: They have convinced a Miami-Dade County foster mom that she won't be able to afford to adopt the severely disabled child she has cared for over the past six years.
''We don't have money -- that's all you hear. We don't have money,'' said Kim Rowe, 48, a legal secretary who took 7-year-old Courtney in six years ago when her parents' chronic drug abuse led to serious neglect. Rowe has been struggling ever since to provide for the girl, who has severe cerebral palsy and mental retardation and cannot eat without a feeding tube.
''These cuts are going to be absolutely devastating,'' said Broward Circuit Judge John A. Frusciante, who has presided over child welfare cases for a decade. ``We are sacrificing the future for what is perceived to be an emergency at the moment. It will come back to haunt us.'' [Read more…]
RENOWNED STORYTELLERS, STORYBOOK CHARACTERS, MUSIC AND TRADITIONAL DANCES TO BE FEATURED AT MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM'S EIGHTH ANNUAL ART OF STORYTELLING INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
(MIAMI, April 23, 2008) – The Miami-Dade Public Library System presents the eighth annual Art of Storytelling (AOS) International Festival on Saturday, May 3, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Main Library, 101 W. Flagler Street, downtown Miami.
This free family event highlights the culture of Colombia and features a diverse line-up of world class storytellers including Jorge Ambrosio Villa Zapata and Jaime Riascos of Colombia, Connie Regan-Blake, Diane Williams, Dylan Pritchett, and Maude Heurtelou of the U.S., and Daniel Azulay of Brazil. Mother Goose, Pippi Longstocking, and a cast of storybook characters will delight the hearts of little ones while the nine feet tall puppets of the Bit's 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre will captivate the entire family with the tale of Cinderella and the Chinese Slipper, an adaptation of a ninth century T'ang Dynasty folk tale.
Musicians, dancers, magicians, stilt-walkers, face-painting, arts and crafts, ethnic foods, and a traditional West Indian carnival parade are all part of this signature event that is designed to promote literacy by presenting stories in a fun and stimulating way.
AOS was developed by the Library System in 2001 to provide free, high quality, educational and cultural information to county residents. This innovative program includes an international library-to-library exchange program; storytelling seminars for educators, librarians and parents, and a storytelling showcase series. Through AOS, the Library System seeks to expand its role as an important community resource by presenting programs that reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of Miami-Dade County residents.
The international exchange partner for this year's event is the Park Libraries of Medellin, Colombia. Former exchange countries include Jamaica, Ghana, Ireland, the Caribbean, Brazil, and France.
Free parking for the event is available (while spaces last), at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center Garage, 50 NW 2nd Avenue and the Hickman Garage, 270 NW 2nd Street. For a full schedule of performances please log on to www.mdpls.org. or call 305-375-BOOK (2665).
The Art of Storytelling 2008 is made possible in part by Bank of America, City of Coral Gables, Consulado General Central de Colombia en Miami, El Nuevo Herald, Emerald Bouquet, Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Miami-Dade Public Library Foundation, Miami-Dade Transit, Miami-Dade Office of the Child Advocate, The Miami Herald, State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Schedule of Events – Saturday, May 3
Main Library – Auditorium
11 a.m. - noon - Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre
Noon - 12:30 p.m. - Magic Show with Robert Hermens
12:30 - 1 p.m. - Storyteller Connie Regan-Blake
1 - 2 p.m. - Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre
2 - 2:30 p.m.- Storytelling with The Healing Force
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. - Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre
11 - 11:30 a.m. - Brazilian cartoonist Daniel Azulay
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Youth Tellers
1 - 1:30 p.m. Ribbon ceremony for Youth Tellers
1:30 - 2 p.m. Grandma's Magic Scissors
2 - 2:30 p.m. Storyteller Maude Heurtelou
2:30 - 3 p.m. Storyteller Dylan Pritchett
3 - 3:30 p.m. Storyteller Jaime Riascos
11 - 11:30 a.m. Mother Goose on the Loose
11:30 - noon Flute Sweets & Tickletoons
12 - 12:30 p.m. Colorin Colorado Puppet Theatre
12:30 - 1 p.m. Mother Goose on the Loose
1 - 1:30 p.m. Flute Sweets & Tickletoons
1:30 - 2 p.m. Storyteller Dylan Pritchett
2 - 2:30 p.m. Flute Sweets & Tickletoons
2:30 - 3 p.m. Storyteller Jennifer Bryant
3 - 3:30 p.m. Storyteller Connie Regan-Blake
Main Library – Fiction Area
11 - 11:30 a.m. Storyteller Dylan Pritchett
11:30 - noon Music from the Andes with Paco Moreno
Noon - 12:30 p.m. Storyteller Jaime Riascos
12:30 - 1 p.m. Storyteller Maude Heurtelou
1 - 1:30 p.m. Brazilian cartoonist Daniel Azulay
1:30 - 2 p.m. Storyteller Connie Regan-Blake
2 - 2:30 p.m. Storyteller Jorge Ambrosio Villa Zapata
2:30 - 3 p.m. Storyteller Laura Packer
3 - 3:30 p.m. Storyteller Diane Williams
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
11 - 11:30 a.m. Storyteller Jorge Ambrosio Villa Zapata
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Teen tellers
12:30 - 1 p.m. Music from the Andes with Paco Moreno
1 - 1:30 p.m. Storytelling with The Healing Force
1:30 - 2 p.m. Storyteller Laura Packer
2 - 2:30 p.m. Storyteller Diane Williams
2:30 - 3 p.m. Brazilian cartoonist Daniel Azulay
3 - 3:30 p.m. Grandma's Magic Scissors
11 - 11:20 a.m. Taiko drummers
11:20 - 11:40 a.m. Kehewin Dance Troupe
11:40 a.m. - noon African drumming and dance with The Healing Force
Noon - 12:20 p.m. Capoeira demonstration
12:20-12:40 p.m. Taiko drummers
12:40 - 1 p.m. Cumbia dance with Estampas de Colombia
1 - 1:20 p.m. Hip Hop Kidz
1:20 - 1:40 p.m. Kehewin Dance Troupe
1:40 - 2 p.m. Cumbia Dance with Estampas de Colombia
2 - 2:30 p.m. Capoeira demonstration
2:30 - 3 p.m. African drumming and dance with The Healing Force
3:30 - 4 p.m. Junkanoos – West Indian Carnival
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Arts & crafts, face painting, character meet & greet, stilt walkers and jugglers.
* Kindly note that schedule is subject to change
Over 20,000 Members to Assemble at Nation's Capital for Historic Gathering
Chicago, Illinois – April 28, 2008 - More than 20,000 members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will converge upon Washington D.C. from July 11-18 for its Centennial international convention. International President, Barbara A. McKinzie will preside over the weeklong event, which is being billed as a celebration of 100 years of sisterhood and service.
In January 2007, the Sorority launched its two-year Centennial Celebration with a series of events at each of the ten regional conferences. This year's convention represents the high point of the festivities, which continue through December 31, 2008.
The biennial convention, which will be held at the Washington Convention Center, represents the culmination of a journey that began on January 15, 1908. It was on that date that nine visionary women at Howard University founded the organization—making it the first sorority of college-educated primarily African-American women. Driven by their commitment to service and sisterhood, Alpha Kappa Alpha has evolved into one of the world's leading service organizations with 200,000 members in 975 chapters worldwide.
The weeklong celebration will be driven by the theme: "Centennial Commitment to Leadership." This is in recognition of the current administration's focus on leadership, which is embraced by the ESP theme—Economics, Service and Partnerships—the programmatic focus of McKinzie's administration. Cultivating leaders is the international president's major thrust, and many of the seminars and forums will center on giving those from within AKA's ranks the tools, knowledge and resources to guide the country and the world into the future.
Paralleling McKinzie's focus on economics, the Sorority will host town hall society forums on entrepreneurship, wealth building and homeownership. Alpha Kappa Alpha will also use the occasion of its business sessions to engage members in an international dialogue on issues that impact members and the communities they serve. Other topics that will dominate the sessions are voter registration and voter education, health, service, bridging the generational gap and the importance of emotional empowerment. The sessions will be moderated by an impressive array of nationally-known leaders.
Other highlights of the convention include:
• Ecumenical Service presided over by prominent religious leaders
• ESP Walk for Emotional, Spiritual and Physical Health
Members will walk 1908 steps to the Convention Center as a show of their commitment to raise awareness about the importance of staying fit for health's sake. This is a culminating event for the Synchronized ESP 1908 Global Centennial Walk that takes place on June 28 and where all AKA members in chapters worldwide will walk in sisterly unison.
• Induction of the following five outstanding women into the Sorority as Honorary members:
Dr. Zoanne Clack – MD, writer and medical consultant for the popular TV show, Grey's Anatomy
C. Vivian Stringer – Rutgers University Women's Head Basketball Coach
*Dr. Maathai is unable to attend the convention so a delegation of Alpha Kappa Alpha members will journey to Kenya to perform the induction ceremony.
• public meeting where the community will become acquainted with Alpha Kappa Alpha, its mission and the reason members are in the District of Columbia
• presentation of awards to local leaders
• Unveiling of the Mattel Alpha Kappa Alpha Barbie Doll
• Performance by Grammy Award winner Patti LaBelle
The high point of the convention will be a Unity March where 30,000 members from the nine predominantly Black Greek fraternities and sororities will link arms as a unified force and march to the Capitol to advance their united agenda. The marchers, all members of the Pan Hellenic Council, will send a "powerful message" to the outgoing administration and a declaration to the next U.S. president about important issues of their constituencies.
While the Sorority will engage in the business of charting its future, the Centennial Convention will primarily be dedicated to celebrating the Sorority's 100-year milestone through an educational documentary that will capture Alpha Kappa Alpha's rich history, tradition and legacy. Most of all, the sisterly bond that has made the Sorority endure for 100 years will be strengthened at this historic gathering.
McKinzie noted that the Convention is the second of two Centennial milestone events. The first was held in January 2008, when over 2,000 members returned to Howard University for the Founders' Day salute to Alpha Chapter, which was Alpha Kappa Alpha's first chapter. The solemn and celebratory event, held on January 15, 2008—on the exact 100-year-milestone day of the Sorority's founding—featured a pilgrimage across the campus to points of historic significance to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
"Alpha Kappa Alpha is humbled and honored to be returning to Washington, D.C. to celebrate our 100 years of sisterhood and service," said McKinzie. "We will use the occasion to celebrate our illustrious history, renew our commitment to our mission and chart the journey toward our second Centennial."
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is America's first Greek-letter organization founded in 1908 by, and for, African-American college women. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, it is one of the world's leading service organizations. The Sorority's members have made a commitment "to serve all mankind" through a nucleus of more than 200,000 women in over 975 chapters in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Germany, Korea, Japan and in the continent of Africa. Barbara A. McKinzie is the 27th International President. Because her term coincides with the 100-year anniversary, she is being hailed as the "Centennial National President." McKinzie's administration is marked by the theme: ESP, which stands for Economics, Service and Partnership. For more information, log on to www.aka1908.com. For an archive of press releases, visit the online pressroom at http://aka1908.com/site/pressroom/
Urban Theater & Entertainment Industry Convenes In
Sunny South Florida
July 29Th - August 2, 2008
The 2nd Bi-Annual Urban Theater & Entertainment Festival/Awards 2008
Get Ready South Florida the 2nd Bi Annual Urban Theater and Entertainment Festival/Awards 2008 is coming. Writers, Stars from stage, screen, TV, producers, authors, directors, Poets, artists, dancers will All convene in Dade and Broward County July 29 - August 2ND. For participation, vendor space, registration applications and sponsorship package please log on to urbantheaterfestival.com
A Urban Theater & Entertainment Festival/Awards in Association with the Malik Yoba National Theater Company, Julia E. Brown Theatrical Association, Inc. in partnership with 103.5 The Beat , WEDR 99.1. For additional information log on to urbantheaterfestival.com
According to The Miami Herald, City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones received legal services from Lydecker, Lee, Behar, Berger & de Zayas and did not report them as a gift. At the heart of this is $46,000 in unpaid legal fees that date back to January 2006.
An ethics complaint has been filed against Spence-Jones. She may be forced to pay a nominal fee and make a public apology if found guilty.
What makes this all smell a bit is that there was no written contract with the firm; the law firm was a supporter during Spence-Jones’ campaign and her mentor, Mayor Manny Diaz, has worked there part-time.
I paid $4/gal for premium gasoline today. Actually, it was $3.999 but who cares about a tenth of a cent? Why do gas station owners do that tenth of a gallon thing anyway? For my 50 bucks, I got a tank that's 3/4 full. Yeah, yippee!
Oh yeah, just before I got to the gas station, a woman was the victim of a smash and grab at one of the pumps. The front passenger window on her SUV had been smashed.
That scene brought back unpleasant memories for me as a victim of the same type of crime a few years ago.
You wanna know what I was thinking? I was thinking wow, lady, I really feel sorry for you. I was robbed once today at the pump but you got it twice. Once at the pump like me paying an obscene price per gallon and the second time by the person that smashed your window and took your possessions.
Filling out a police report is a jacked up way to start a Saturday morning or any morning for that manner. Losing material things is one thing but losing your sense of security is quite another.
By Michael R. Malone, The Children's Trust
One hundred boys and girls, students at Miami Edison High Senior School, have been waiting outside the "Red Raiders" gymnasium for more than an hour since 7:30 AM. The noise level in the hallway has been building, a combination of excitement and uncertainty. The students have volunteered to participate in Challenge Day, but don't know what to expect.
The gym doors are flung open, and the students, bursting with energy, spill in to the "Home of the Champions." Single file, they funnel through the "welcome tunnel."
Challenge Day co-leader Michael Allen has cranked up the music – Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at high throttle – and the support team, a combination of Non-Violence Project USA staff and volunteers, are clapping and laughing, high-fiving the boys and girls as they walk through. Some kids break into smiles, a few slip into their own dance steps and moves, and others – teen cool – stride through trying not to look unaffected by the joyous attention.
The kids make their way to the circle of chairs arranged on a massive maroon plastic tarp. Posters on the bleacher seats and the red-and-black wrestling mats padding the walls foretell the focus of the day: "Be the Change," "Notice, Challenge, Act," "Thank you for..," "I like it when..," "You seem like..," "I appreciate..," "I notice..," "I like..," "I love...".
Ice breakers melt away nervousness. Students and adult volunteers are soon rushing across the floor, scurrying for empty seats and the chance to tell their neighbor: "You're amazing" and "I'm really glad you're here." The exercises are awkward at first for many, but in just minutes, there's a buzz and bonding newly present in the room.
"So here's what's real," says Bathesheba Harambe, the other co-leader. "Sister B" outlines the guidelines for the day – stow their cell phones, treat others with respect, keep it safe by keeping it appropriate, attend for the whole day and pay attention.
Challenge Days have been held for 20 years around the United States – though never in Miami, and the workshop got a boost of notoriety when it was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show. Diane Landsberg, executive director since 1997 of Non-Violence Project USA, saw Oprah's program.
The non-profit, which received $127,000 this year from The Children's Trust with additional funding for Challenge Day, strives to change attitudes toward violence among youth. By teaching alternatives to negative behavior, NVP engages young people in community service and other positive action to make communities safer and healthier.
In April, it coordinated eight Challenge Day events at four area high schools – Edison, Killian, Northwestern and Homestead. The organization has established relationships at these schools and with many others around the county. It's also true that these are struggling schools and located in some of the county's most troubled neighborhoods. In late February an altercation at Edison resulted in 26 student arrests, though most of those charges have since been dropped.
"Our roots really go deep with Edison; we started a program there 11 years ago – it was our first school in the county. When this situation happened, I felt like 'these are my kids,'" Landsberg said. "Even though I felt they had misbehaved, I also knew we needed to give them more tools and to give them a voice – that's the main thing."
Challenge Day is geared to give the students their voice – an authentic, empowered one. For a morning session, students break into small groups with an adult facilitator. Many of the kids see each other daily in the hallways. They share classes together, but this communication is different. It opens new ground. They pull their chairs up close so knees are touching and the exercise begins: "If you really knew me, you would know…" The group is pledged to confidentiality – one of the agreements of the day – except for any revelations that might indicate an imminent risk or danger involving a student; any "secret" like this is communicated to school trust counselors.
The sharing starts safely with "You would know, I'm a twin" or "You would know that I'm shy," but moves quickly into concerns, problems and truths that speak to issues of abandonment, fear, abuse and worse. Group members listen, giving each speaker the "gift" of their attention. When the exercise finishes, group members hold each other in a group hug. The awkwardness continues to fall away.
Allen and Sister B start the session after lunch. They talk about the one thing that gets in the way of change: Oppression. "If you could use your power for good everyday, we could end oppression," Allen tells the group. There are more energetic team-building exercises and then it's time to "cross the line."
Students and adults alike respond to a series of questions – "If someone has said 'I love you' while they were hitting or abusing you," "If you've lost a friend or loved one to gun violence," "If you've ever been ridiculed because of your weight" among others – by walking across a line if the response holds true for them. The experience to stand and face or to stand side-by-side with those who share your experience is powerful and, for some, it's transformative.
"It's the enlightenment of thinking that you're not alone, that there are so many fellow students who feel or experience this same way and that the challenges you're dealing with on a daily basis are shared," says Landsberg, adding, "when the students saw adults crossing the line, it really broke down barriers."
More barriers fall as Allen and "Sister B" share their own trips and stumbles in life. The kids listen closely as the leaders "share what's on their hearts."
Their stories of redemption inspire some of the students to step up to the microphone: to apologize and make amends with classmates, or just to lay a burden down. Everyone who speaks seems empowered by the experience.
The training over, the kids file out of the gym under the red jerseys hung from the rafters – Darrell 32, LSU; Williams, 22, LSU; Hearns, 4 – a celebration of Edison basketball standouts. Even as they leave, there's a buzz in the room and plenty of excitement, like the feeling of a team that's been down for a while, but has finally won.
"These kids are so amazingly strong and such a resource in this community," Landsberg says. "Challenge Day gives them the opportunity to show it to them. They were given the gift of a day, and they took it. They celebrated it."