Friends and Neighbors

Police, community relation issues to be addressed


Miami-Dade’s faith community has had enough of the deteriorating conditions in the black community and they coming together to do something about it.

At 7:30 p.m. Monday, leaders including Police Director J.D. Patterson, Deputy Mayor Russell Benford, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Public Defender Carlos Martinez, Juvenile Judge Orlando Prescott and Juvenile Services Department Director Morris Copeland will meet with members of the community to address the problems of police-community relations, out-of-school suspensions and juvenile justice.

More than 1,500 people are expected to attend the rally at New Birth Baptist Church, 2300 NW 135th St., where they will seek commitments from the leaders to address the problems.

The rally is organized by PACT, an organization representing 50,000 people from 37 churches, synagogues, mosques and two universities. The faith-based group unites, organizes, and trains leaders from this diverse group to build a powerful community voice, thereby helping to make Miami-Dade a better place to live, work and so business.

The entire community is invited to the rally. For more information call the PACT office at 305-572-0602.

Opera features Miami’s Jean-Baptiste

The Florida Grand Opera’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca features Miami’s very own Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (dubbed “the Haitian Diva”), in the leading role.

The opera opens today with performances to also be on Wednesday and Saturday. Jean-Baptiste last sang the role at Opera San Jose during the 2010-11 season.

Since 2005, Jean-Baptiste has been a voice student of Oscar Diaz Jr., director of Miami’s Performer’s Music Institute. She has returned home to South Florida after singing leading roles with Opera San Jose, and is a fast emerging artist in the opera world, having sung such varied works as the tile roles in both David Carlson’s Anna Karenina and Tosca.

Diaz said the production will feature several of his former and present students singing in the chorus. Currently enrolled students from Performer’s Music Institute appearing in the opera include soprano Melissa Ruiz, mezzo-soprano Lisa Gansar Pitman, and tenors Alexander Diaz and Miguel Llerena.

Singing in Florida Grand Opera Youth Chorus will be Diaz’s voice student Eylisabeth V. Bengochea.

Susan T. Danis is the general director and CEO of Florida Grand Opera and Ramon Tebar is the music director.

For tickets and more information go to:

MDC hosts

leadership conference

The warm and breezy sounds of steel drums and calypso music, lectures, conferences, a talent show and a family picnic will be the highlight of the 40th Annual Florida Caribbean Students Association Leadership Conference on Friday through April 6, hosted by Miami Dade College’s North Campus.

The theme of the conference is, “Empowering the Next Generation of Caribbean Leaders,” and will feature Caribbean music sensation Machel Montano as the guest speaker.

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Montano and his Team HD (formerly XTATIK) have been recognized internationally in the music forms of soca, calypso and other Caribbean and popular music genres. His many awards include being a six-time winner of the Road March National award, and being crowned Power International Soca Monarch at the 2014 Trinidad Carnival. He is also a recipient of the Caribbean Outlier Award presented by the University of the West Indies’ Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business.

The conference is held in collaboration with MDC’s Tropical Beat Caribbean Student Association and provides a statewide platform of leadership development, civic engagement, community service and cultural awareness among college and university students of Caribbean descent. It is the leading Caribbean student event in Florida and represents a wide cross section of Caribbean countries.

Christian Hughes, the conference director at the North Campus said, “With one of the largest Caribbean college student populations in the nation, Miami Dade College is proud to welcome one of the Caribbean’s most influential cultural ambassadors to our campus. His presence will definitely bring a refreshing and energetic flavor to our conference program.”

Miami Dade College North Campus is at 11380 NW 27th Ave.

Photojournalist highlighted

in alumni artist series

Perhaps you missed the opening reception of “ Carl Juste: A Retrospective” at the 60th Anniversary Alumni Artist Series Part 3, at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep (ACND), 4949 NE Second Ave.

But you don’t have to miss the exhibit, which will be in the school’s Gallery of Art through April 30. The exhibit documents Juste’s work throughout his 25-year career as a photojournalist.

The Haitian-born Juste and his family fled the island under the threat of persecution in 1965, and settled in Miami’s Little Haiti. Upon his arrival here, the young Juste hit the ground running, so to speak. He excelled academically and graduated from ACND in 1981, where he won a scholarship to the University of Miami, and pursued a career in photojournalism.

In 1991, he became a staff photographer at The Miami Herald. Since then, he has received numerous awards and honors.

In addition, Juste is founder of both the IPC Visual Lab and the Iris Photo Collective. His work, and that of his students from IPC Visual Lab, has been exhibited many times at the ACND Gallery. He also has exhibited at solo and group shows at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Little Haiti Cultural Center and at other galleries throughout South Florida.

For more information on the days and times the exhibit is open, call 305-751-8367 or email

Spring Sing concert on Friday

You are invited to a “Spring Sing” concert, presented by Seraphic Fire’s Miami Choral Academy at 7 p.m. Friday, at St. Martha’s Catholic Church, 9221 Biscayne Blvd.

The Miami Choral Academy consists of 50 children who will sing traditional works in Spanish, French, Latin, Swahili and English.

The musical group is an initiative of Seraphic Fire, South Florida’s Grammy nominated chamber choir, which seeks to make positive change in the lives of children from economically disadvantaged communities by providing a tuition free, after-school music education and choral program.

Led by Brett Karlin, the Miami Choral Academy reaches children in Miami-Dade County Public schools from throughout the county, and seeks to strengthen students’ cognitive and social abilities by developing their musical skills. The curriculum focuses on musical excellence and involves both parents and children, working to increase the students’ confidence, self-discipline, social skills and academic success.

The two-hour rehearsals are held twice a week at schools that include Natural Bridge, Citrus Grove, and Lorah Park elementary schools, Morningside Academy and John F. Kennedy Middle School.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Scholarships available

for African Americans

The Jacki Tuckfield Memorial Graduate Business Scholarship program is offering $44,000 in $2,000 tuition scholarships for the 2014 fall term.

The scholarships are open to African-American United States citizens who are residents of South Florida and are enrolled in any graduate business degree program at Florida universities. Applicants must have earned 12 or more semester credit hours with a minimum of 3.2 GPA in their graduate business degree program. Applicants must also plan to pursue professional careers in South Florida.

Applications must be received by May 29. For applications and the guidelines, contact Joy Lampkin at: or call her at 305-357-2088.

New Neighbors

to install new board

The New Neighbors Club of South Dade will install its newly elected executive board in a special ceremony at its April 9 luncheon meeting at the Killian Palms Country Club, 9950 SW 104th St.

The new board members are: Sharalynn Torres, president; Thelma Tucker, first vice president, programs; Christine Wagner, second vice president membership; Judy Spratt, treasurer, and Elaine DeLeonardis, recording secretary. Torres will also be installed as secretary of correspondence/newsletter.

If you go, reservations are required. Socializing will begin at 11 a.m. followed by the meeting and luncheon at 11:30 a.m.

The program will feature Alexander Savoy, who will entertain with a “World Color Guard Musical” performance. He was a member of an award-winning color guard troop and now teaches the art to high school students. The performance is a form of entertainment similar to dance theater and can be found in most American drum corps.

Lunch is $26 per person and reservations must be made by 6 p.m. Thursday by sending an email to: or by calling 305-595-0213.

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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