Community Voices

Death of inspiring civic leader leaves void in the Miami community

Roberta Shevin seemed to be on a mission to make Miami better, not just for her family, but for all the families who live here.
Roberta Shevin seemed to be on a mission to make Miami better, not just for her family, but for all the families who live here. Miami Herald file

Often in life, we are fortunate to meet people who inspire us to become better human beings. Roberta Daum Shevin was such a person. She died Sept. 24, leaving a great void in her family and in the life of the South Florida community. Funeral services were held Sept. 27 at Bet Shira Congregation in Pinecrest.

There isn’t much I can say about this great woman and humanitarian that hasn’t already been said. I guess I simply want it to go on record that I am a witness to the life she lived, and that I learned much from her warm spirit and her dedication to humankind.

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Roberta Shevin Miami Herald file

I can’t remember how, or when I met Roberta. It seems she was always there, reaching out, bringing the community together in one way or another. One of the ways she reached out was as executive director of MCCJ (formerly known as Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews), which she led from 2009-18.

I admired her respect for others, no matter their racial or economic background. To Roberta, we were all in this together, and if we are to survive, we must work together for the good of all the people. I was the same philosophy she brought to MCCJ.

Brian Dervishi, MCCJ’s board chairman, said in a statement announcing her death: “Roberta Shevin came to the MCCJ nine years ago at a time of challenge for the organization.” He said she stepped into the position using her “compassion, intelligence and unlimited energy” to lead the organization. To everyone who knew her, it was no surprise. She tackled the job the same way she took on every challenge of her life.

She cared about the Miami community. It is where she was born and raised (her parents were Dorothy and Maurice Daum); where she married Jerome H. Shevin, who died in 2007; where their children, Adam R. Shevin and Alison Shevin Glicken, were born. She seemed to be on a mission to make Miami better, not just for her family, but for all the families who live here. She knew that if that were to happen, we could not live comfortably in our own ethnic communities.

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Bea L. Hines

So, she “passionately promoted MCCJ’s role in building an inclusive community that encouraged a civil dialogue on difficult issues with a “Can We Talk, Can We Really Talk” series, the Headliner Award Breakfast event honoring prominent voices in the media, and the Miami Herald Roundtable.” By heading those initiatives, Roberta restored MCCJ to its central role among South Florida nonprofits, which shared the common goal of building a good and just community,” Dervishi said.

A part of her heart seemed to be in building a better Miami through MCCJ’s Interfaith Clergy Dialogue, the oldest of its kind in the country, and through the creation of Connect Miami — 10 days of connection among different Miamians who were willing to step out of their comfort zone to develop meaningful connections, Dervishi said.

So how do we, as Greater Miamians, honor Roberta’s life? By taking up where she left off. We can dialogue with people of other faiths and ethnic backgrounds. We can develop friendships with people who look different from us and really get to know them. These are small steps. But steps, still. Roberta knew that if we each will take a few small steps at a time, we will reach the “mountain top” of good community relations.

In loving memory of Roberta, can we at least try?

Health fair

Trinity Cathedral at 464 NE 16th St., will have a Health Fair from 9 a. m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, in commemoration of St. Luke the Physician. Doctors and nurses will be there to accept blood donations and do screenings. There will also be other services available, healthcare advocates and professionals to answer your health-related questions. It is free and open to the public.

Vocational Unfoldment Workshop

The community is invited to attend the Vocational Unfoldment Workshop led by Sharon Cliett Hallback, MS, M.Ed., from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Universal Truth Center for Better Living in classrooms Seven and Eight, 21310 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens.

According to a press release from the church, the workshop addresses the church’s adventure in faith commitment, and helps to answer the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Hallback said she is still “growing up” because she is always being guided by Divine Intervention to greater and greater levels of vocational unfoldment.”

The workshop will include how to job search, resume prep, and interview etiquette.

Wealth & poverty

Gerald Schwartz will lecture on “The Elimination of Extremes of Wealth and Poverty” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the monthly Community Fireside series presented by the Miami Bah’a’i Center , in Suite 209 at 9300 S. Dixie Hwy.

“A decade ago talk about income inequality was still mainly confined to discussions among economists and sociologists. Today, as we all know, it is a public issue, and rightly so,” said Schwartz, an adjunct English professor at Miami Dade College.

He said the Bah’a’i teachings, which contain many guidelines for a genuinely healthy society — one based on foundations of freedom, justice, human dignity and compassion — recognized that extremes of wealth and poverty would pose a major obstacle in the development of a truly civilized world.”

The discussion is open to the community. In addition, the Bah’a’is of Miami will host a Community Devotional 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at the center. There is never an admission charge or a solicitation of funds. Call 305-753-8298 or go to for more information.

South Florida Youth Summit

David Banner, the Grammy Award-winning music producer, recording artist, actor and philanthropist will be the keynote speaker at the kickoff for the sixth annual South Florida Youth Summit Oct 18-20. He will be joined by Jasmen Rogers-Shaw, political strategist and Emmy Award-winning journalist; and NBC6 anchor and host of “Black Voices” Jawan Strader, who will serve as hosts.

The adults-only kickoff event, Cocktails and Conversations, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Miramar Multi-Service Complex, 6700 Miramar Pkwy.

The summit is presented by Leaders by Empowerment, Activists by Development (L.E.A.D. Nation) in partnership with the Knight Foundation and is the brainchild of L.E.A.D. Nation co-founder state Rep. Shevrin Jones. The summit is designed to provide knowledge-based enrichment activities in an interactive setting to empower youth to live up to their full potential, according to a news release..

The summit will continue with a Leaders in Training Youth Rally from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 19, at Broward College South Campus, 7200 Pines Blvd. in Pembroke Pines. The goal of Leaders in Training is to groom high school students to be effective advocates for issues they believe in.

The Youth Summit targets students in grades 6 to 12, and provides experienced learning in six focus areas:

  • STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

  • Leadership development

  • Social innovation and entrepreneurship

  • Financial education

  • Youth violence prevention

  • Childhood obesity

The finale will be the Youth Summit itself, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Miami Dade College North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Ave. Participants will enjoy a full day of seminars, workshops, and panel discussions.

To register and for more information, call Jessica Garrett Modkins at 305-970-1518 or email her at

Eta Phi Beta Sorority

Congratulations to Colette McCurdy-Jackson, who recently was elected and installed as the 18th national president of Eta Phi Beta Sorority during the organization’s 33rd Biennial National Convention held in Memphis. She will serve as the national president for 2018-20.

McCurdy-Jackson was inducted to the organization through the Alpha Gamma Chapter in Miami in 1995, and has served the sorority on local, regional and national levels.

A graduate of Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in women’s studies, she also has a Master of Arts degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. She is an operations manager with the 11th Judicial Circuit Administrative Office of the Courts. She is a Certified Court Executive and a Fellow of the National Center for State Courts — Institute for Court Management.

McCurdy-Jackson has served as a Girl Scout troop leader for more than 10 years, is a mentor to at-risk girls in the Sisters of the Heart Mentoring Program, and is a past president of the Miami-Dade County Women’s Park founders committee.

Goombay Festival

The Booker T. Washington High School Class of 1960 invites the community to join them for the day at the 2018 Key West Goombay Festival on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The bus will depart from Golden Glades Park ‘N ride at 6 a.m. The return trip from Key West will be 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 per person round trip and include a Continental breakfast and lunch.

Contact Cornelia Sands at 305-621-6412, Ramona Exum at 305-625-2961, Jimmie Knowles at 786-3566-2282 or George Storr at 678-428-7260.