Friends and Neighbors

Time is running out to save our little ones


As a mom, grandma and great-grandma, I can scarcely believe the pain and brutality that is often inflicted on our young and helpless children.

As have many of you, I have been reading the special report “Innocents Lost.” I am grateful to Aminda Marques Gonzalez, Miami Herald Executive Editor and reporters Audra D.S. Burch and Carol Marbin Miller, the seasoned team of reporters who put this package together.

But, I must say, it is taking me a while to get through the report. That is because I am simply overwhelmed, sad, and outraged at the stories of the “... 477 children who died of abuse or neglect after falling through Florida's protective net.”

In the past, as these stories surfaced one by one, we read - often in disbelief - how a parent or guardian had harmed and often times killed a child they were supposed to protect. It is bad enough to read one such story, but Sunday I opened my paper to see the smiling faces that represented hundreds of the precious little children and teens whose life was shortened because of some brutal act. I couldn't take it; I had to lay the paper aside, then come back to it again.

Later on, when I picked up the paper, the beautiful little faces still stared back at me and their stories were more horrible than any I could have imagined.

As I looked over the front page with those precious faces, it is hard to believe that those smiles, now etched in our memory, are frozen in time. In reality, these smiling children actually died such horrible deaths that their smiles became twisted distortions of the pain they felt before dying.

Many of these deaths could have been avoided if the Florida Department of Children & Families had done its job. How could you not know that to leave a small child in a home with a drug-abusing mom and her boyfriend and a big python was not a dangerous situation?

Or that to leave a helpless child in the home with a parent where, two years earlier, another child had died while in her care?

Or when the home of a 10-year-old girl who was tortured and beaten by her adoptive parents and then stuffed into a trash bag, had been deemed safe a short time earlier?

Over the years, as I read about these despicable acts against our children, I kept hoping that DCF would make it better, would do more than just form another task force. That another child’s life would not have to be snuffed out. But it kept on happening.

So, where do we go from here? How do we, as caring human beings, fix this scandalous situation? The clock is ticking and it is only a matter of time before another innocent’s life will be taken.

People, we must beat the clock. We can’t let this happen again.

An untraditional road to evangelism

For more than a decade, the Rev. Chad Lawson Cooper, 43, had served as a pastor. Then one day he said, “I felt I heard the voice of God saying that I was going to do more evangelism, but not in the traditional way.”

Cooper said it was about that time that his wife “dragged” him to a play at the Knight Center. “It was while there that the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘This is what you are going to do - plays and movies...’ and that through this new way of evangelizing, I would touch the world.”

Now, nine years later, Cooper said he is on his way to “touching” the world. His first play, “Church Mess,” is coming to Miami on April 4 and 5 at the Lou Rawls Theater of the Performing Arts at Florida Memorial University, 15800 NW 42nd Ave. in Miami Gardens. The play has been on tour over the past nine years in more than 165 cities.

He said some of the locals in the play include gospel singer Virginia Bostic, the Rev. Avery Jones, Punch Williams and Dr. Deborah Brown from the Hallandale Church of God.

Cooper, formerly of Miami, served for seven years as pastor of A Wealthy Place International Church in Hialeah. He now lives in Atlanta. He said about a half million people have seen the play, either in person, or on DVDs. He said the play is about a young pastor who has inherited a church that is full of “religiously carnal people,” who want to control the preacher while living like sinners. “There are a lot of fights and two-facedness, but the preacher deals with it head on.”

As a gospel play, “Church Mess” includes a lot of “... extraordinary singing, drama and comedy,” Cooper said.

Show time is 3 and 7:30 p.m. on April 4 and 5. Tickets are $55 and $65 each. Early bird specials are offered at $35 and $40 through March 31 by calling 888-977-2282, ext. 100. You may also go to: for more information and tickets.

Living Legends awards ceremony

The deadline to purchase tickets to the annual Living Legends award ceremony presented by the Booker T. Washing High School Alumni Association is March 29. The cost is $60 per person

The event will be on April 12 at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel, 1633 N. Bayshore Dr. A reception will be at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.

For tickets, call Laura Jones at 305-621-4319 or Mary Simmons at 305-759-5804.

This is an elegant affair that the BTW's Alumni Association put on. If you plan on going, you should get your tickets early.

Founders Day for Alpha Gamma Chapter

You are invited to the Founder's Day Observance luncheon presented by the Alpha Gamma Chapter of Eta Phi Beta Sorority at 11:30 a.m. on March 29.

The event will be at the Renaissance Banquet Ball Room, 590 SW Eighth St. Call 7786-489-4225 for tickets and more information.

Women’s Clubs luncheon coming up

Make your reservations by Monday ( if you plan on attending the luncheon meeting of the Dade County Federation of Women's Clubs meeting on Wednesday at the Coco Plum Women's Club.

Fellowship and voting for officers will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch at noon.

Call Ruth Perry to make reservations and for more information. The numbers are: 305-484-5934 and/or 305-245-9255.

Be there for a Scandalicious affair

The Links, Inc. Greater Miami Chapter will host its 2014 “Scandalicious Affair” Book and Author Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Jungle Island's Treetop Ballroom, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail.

The program will feature acclaimed author and crisis management expert Judy Smith, who is also co-executive producer and inspiration behind the hit ABC television series “Scandal.” Smith will do a reading from her latest book. A “Scandalicious” raffle will be held with proceeds to benefit the organization's educational, civic and inter-cultural programming.

Tickets are $125 and includes an autographed book. You may visit to purchase tickets. For m ore information call Renee Beal, president of the organization at 305-951-2749.

Meyer Lansky’s daughter reads from memoirs

Sandra Lansky, daughter of mob boss Meyer Lansky, will speak from her book, “Daughter of the King: Growing Up in Gangland” on March 30 at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, 301 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach.

As the daughter of the underworld kingpin, Sandra Lansky grew up during the heyday of the Mafia. Her talk will include highlights from the book to include her father's plot to assassinate Hitler to favorite “Uncle” Bugsy Siegel.

Over the years, she kept her father’s secrets. She breaks her 50-year silence with her memoir. In the book, she recounts her life as a Jewish Mafia princess and of Organized Crime’s purported influence at the highest reaches of government and world affairs.

Call the museum at 786-972-3175 or go to: for more information.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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