Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Baltimore mom should be declared this year’s Mother of the Year

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

In my church, as well as in many churches throughout America, we are asked to cast our vote for the mother we consider the “Mother of the Year.” This is always a hard one for me to vote on at my church, because of all the wonderful moms there — young and old — and are always doing things to make them stand out in a positive way.

However, if I were asked to vote on the “Mother of the Year” for America, my vote would go to Toya Graham. She is the Baltimore mom who saw her son on television engaging in riotous activity after the death of Freddie Gray. She bolted out of her house, found her son and slapped him all the way home.

Oh yes, son Michael Singleton was embarrassed. A great deal embarrassed. Graham didn’t care. Her only concern was to get her child safely home where, I am sure, the punishment continued.

Later, Michael admitted on The View television program that he’d gone to the riot because he had friends who had been hurt by the police. He said at first he was embarrassed at his mom’s actions, but later realized how much she really loves him.

While some people criticized Graham for her “violent” action towards her son, as a mother, I really do understand her frustration. While I can’t imagine myself using violent language, I can’t say that I would not have slapped a son of mine all the way home had he been in a situation like the one in Baltimore. Like Graham, I would not have wanted my son perpetuating violence, riot or no riot.

And while many people call Graham a hero (including me), she told The View that she is no hero. The mother of six said she just wanted to protect her only son.

I would like to also give a shout out to Michael, who never raised a hand to hit his mom back, although he was clearly embarrassed by the whole ordeal. That tells me a lot about how Graham is rearing her children and that in spite of the fact that Michael was being pulled into the riot by his peers, he showed respect for his mom.

Good job Toya Graham. In my book, you are America’s “Mother of the Year” for 2015.

‘Sister Jeanne — The Power Nun’

The community is invited to the first in a series of films by American Society of Media Photographers award winner Scherley Busch at 7 p.m. May 19, when the first edition of Portraits of Inspiration will be shown.

The film is entitled, Sister Jeanne — The Power Nun and is the amazing life story of Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, president emerita of Barry University: trailblazer, humanitarian and educator. It will be shown at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.

Presented by the Florida Women of Achievement, the brainchild of Busch, the film will be the perfect time for our community to honor Sister Jeanne, who has given so much to the South Florida community.

If you go, you will meet Busch, the remarkable woman behind Portraits of Inspiration and the Florida Women of Achievement traveling portrait exhibit.

Tickets are available by calling 1-800-838-3006, ext. 1.

Ministering to the Elderly Conference

The keynote speaker at the 20th annual Ministering to the Elderly Conference, will be Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D., research director of The Melissa Institute, a Miami-based think tank for preventing violence in schools.

The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Miami Jewish Health Systems, 5200 NE Second Ave., and is sponsored by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Mishkan Miami: The Jewish connection for Spiritual Support; Miami Jewish Health Systems, and Jewish Community Services of South Florida.

According to a news release, the conference offers a “toolbox” of resources that can help practitioners or caregivers to predict which older adults may be at risk and to present strategies to build internal resilience. “Conversely, healthy aging adults can provide insights about the keys to coping for populations of all ages. As a part of the program, a panel of older adults from different backgrounds will discuss the question of how they cope with the challenges they face.”

Keynote speaker Meichenbaum, who is also distinguished professor emeritus of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, is one of the founders of cognitive behavior therapy.

He was voted by North American clinicians as “one of the 10 most influential psychotherapists of the 20th century.” He has published extensively and his most recent book is Roadmap to Resilience.

The day-long conference will recognize the Rev. Jose Luis Menendez as its Clergy of the Year. Menendez was born in Havana and ordained in 1977 in the Archdiocese of Madrid. He came to Miami in 1980 and his first assignment in the Archdiocese of Miami was to serve the Parochial Vicar at St. Mary’s Cathedral. In 1982, he was appointed director of the Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami. He now serves as the pastor of Corpus Christi parish.

Registration is $36 per person and includes a continental breakfast. Continuing education credits will be available for nurses and mental health professionals. For more information and to register visit at You may also call 786-866-8611.

Safespace fundraiser in Little Havana

You are invited to Safespace Foundation’s “Art and Mingle” fundraiser, Friday at the Futurama Gallery, 1637 SW Eighth St.

The event will be from 7 to 10 p.m. and you will have the opportunity to mingle while enjoying great art, the artists, an open bar, food and live music. It is all to support Safespace Foundation in its effort to stop domestic violence. The program will also feature a silent auction and raffle prizes. Tickets are $35 each. To make your reservations, call Alicia at 305-661-4097.

Celebration of the Arts

The Celebration of the Arts Reception and Awards Recognition will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Audubon Villages Club House, 1851 S. Canal Dr. in Homestead.

The Homestead Center for the Arts is an umbrella group that brings together nearly two dozen member organizations dedicated to arts and culture in and around Homestead.

Artists who are experts in a number of arts from writing to music and panting and from the theater and dance to photography and growing orchids, will be on hand to talk with you. They will bring along samples of their work and will tell you how you can join their groups.

The cost is $10 per person and will include light refreshments and door prizes. Reservations are required. Call Barbara Millenbrunch at 305-230-9185 to RSVP. For more information, call Charlie Hudson at 305-230-9572 or send an email to

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.