Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: From her pain, author helps young women find the princess within

Sonia Chess knows what it’s like to have low self esteem and to be bullied. As a child, she was molested and that caused her to feel less pretty and to make poor choices.

“I didn’t know my self-worth,” she said. “When I was about 9, I began to journal my feelings. Writing became therapeutic for me. When I was 27, I wrote a book called Coffee Colored Pain, which told my story as well as the stories of other women who had been hurt.”

“After I wrote the book I met a pastor, Dr. Gail Brown, who learned of me when she read my book. She invited me to church, where I developed a relationship with God and that’s when I started to heal,” Chess said.

Chess wanted to reach out to other young girls who suffered from low self esteem as she once had. So, in 2000, she started a program to help young girls and young adult women “to find the princess within them. I started mentoring girls and I noticed that a lot of the young girls didn’t know a lot about etiquette. Some of the girls didn’t even know how to use a fork. I expanded the meeting to include etiquette, how to dress properly and literacy.”

The program grew to include more and more girls — about 200. A year ago, Chess held her first Princess and Pearls Literary Brunch.

This year, there will be a Royal Princess Ball and Fashion Show for girls ages 4 through 18 on May 30 at the Signature Grand Ballroom, 6900 State Road 84, Davie.

In addition to the fashion show, it will be a day for modeling, and learning about anti-bullying, etiquette and self esteem.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. VIP Kids Registration that includes the workshops and lunch costs $50 a person. Tickets for adults cost $35 and include lunch and the fashion show.

To make reservations, visit or call Chess at 305-301-2089.

“This is something I do full time now,” Chess said. “I have a passion for children and I want to assist them on their journey to adulthood.”

FIU workshops for older learners

If you are 50 or older, Florida International University has scheduled nine one-day workshops to introduce you to the riches of adult education courses offered during spring and summer in North Miami-Dade.

The One-Day Works are sponsored by the Osher Life Learning Insititute on FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. The yearly memberships cost $40 and a six-week mini-mester costs $90 (with shorter courses for less). The one-day workshops cost $25.

The summer mini-mester starts June 8 and registration is open now. The program is a welcome adjunct for those seeking intellectual stimulation, enrichment and socialization in a noncredit classroom. There are no tests, papers or grades.

Year-round courses include local history, foreign language film, art and architecture, international and domestic events, politics, environmental issues, computer technology and photography. Also available this summer is a unique exploration of “the science of happiness.”

Interested? Call the OLLI office at 305-919-5910 or visit

Patriotic songs to be sung

The 2015 patriotic program Stars and Stripes Forever will be presented by the Silver Palm United Methodist Choir and other singers at 7 p.m. May 29 at the church, 15855 SW 248th St. The program will include many favorite patriotic songs.

The Homestead Air Reserve Base Color Guard and the church’s award-winning Boy Scout Troop 69, will join the choir in this presentation.

Those in the military as well as retired military personnel, police, firefighters and other emergency response personnel are invited to wear their uniforms and will be recognized.

Other guests are invited to wear red, white and blue and to bring small flags to wave in appreciation for our country.

It’s free and open to the public. A love offering will be accepted.

WWII vets to be recognized

All World War II veterans who served our country between 1938 and 1945 are invited to the Homestead Air Reserve Base from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 12 to be honored and recognized for their service.

This monthly meet-and-greet is hosted by the Homestead Military Affairs Committee and is dedicated to the brave men and women who proudly served our country in the armed forces during the historic times of WWII.

The honorary recognition and awards ceremony will include snacks, a military service pin and a personalized certificate as tokens of appreciation.

If you go, you may bring your pictures and memorabilia for display.

For more information, call Rich Erschik at 630-642-6500 or email him at

Miami City Ballet School on Web series

Miami City Ballet School will be featured on Teen Vogue's hit Web series Strictly Ballet on Wednesday. The show is about the competitive world of reaching the limelight in dance.

Meanwhile, the Miami City Ballet School will have its final showcase this weekend, and you may check out the performance at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Theatre at MCB Studios at 2200 Liberty Ave., Miami Beach.

Tickets cost $30 and may be purchased at or by calling the box office at 305-929-7010 or 877-929-7010.

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.