Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Community leaders honored with Pillar Awards

The 15th annual Community Pillar Awards were presented June 20 at an elegant luncheon at the Miami Shores Country Club. And I am honored and humbled to have been one of the recipients.

Presented by Miami-Dade County’s Black Affairs Advisory Board Black Heritage Planning Committee, the day also honored outstanding community youth with the Young Pillars Scholarship. The other 2015 Community Pillars are:

▪ Wayman G. Bannerman, chief of staff in the office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis C. Moss. He has a bachelor’s degree in personal financial planning from Barry University and a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they are the parents of two and the grandparents of three. In addition, Bannerman also serves as an elder at Full Deliverance Ministries.

▪ Brandon Derell Bartley, a former vice president of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence. He has a bachelor’s in health services and a master’s in public administration from Florida International University. He has continued his work with the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project and serves as the advisor for Guide Right Leadership Development Program for teenage boys through Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He currently works with Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department as a Child Advocacy Manager II.

▪ Keith Avalon Harrell is a 16-year veteran law enforcement officer and the co-founder of BIG TIME BOYS, an acronym for Black Individuals Giving Time Investing Money and Effort to Better Our Young Society. The organization focuses on developing pride, self-awareness and sef-esteem among Miami’s inner city youth. In 1992, a television show grew out of the organization and was shown on WLRN Cable-TAP Network. He is a board member of the African American Performance Arts Community Theatre and the creator of the Casting Couch TV show.

▪ Theodore “Teddy” Harrell Jr. His talent of singing was discovered at an early age when he sang in the choir at the Historic Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. He studied at Miami Dade College North Campus and earned a music scholarship for musical theater at the University of Miami. He left the university to tour with the internationally known singing group The Drifters. When he returned to South Florida, he was employed with the Florida Department of Children and Families in the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Division. In 1999, he founded the African American Performing Arts Community Theatre.

His public service involvement includes Hallandale’s Weed and Seed program, Miami-Dade’s Community Action and Department of Human Services. He has a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and a master’s of professional studies degree in executive management from St. Thomas University. He currently serves as director of theater at the Wendell Narcisse Performing Arts Theater at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City. He is the father of Olivia and Trey.

▪ Shannan Ighodaro has worked in telecommunications for more than a decade, and is an advocate for education — especially the education of young women. She has a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Florida Memorial University and a master’s of business administration from Nova Southeastern University. She is founder and COO of Oracle Consulting Group and the executive consultant with Oracle Public Relations, a marketing and public relations firm. She successfully branded Miami-Dade County Public School’s Read to Lead program and the Kids Class, a national program for youths in under-served communities. In addition, she led an effort to establish a four-year scholarship program for 23 young girls in the Forum for African Women and Educationalist Girls School in Rwanda, East Africa. She is married to Erhabor Ighodaro, Ph.D., a councilman in Miami Gardens. They are the parents of twin girls, Esosa and Idia.

▪ Gordon Eric Knowles started his career working for the nonprofit Coconut Grove Local Development Corp., which builds affordable housing and assists families to realize their dream of home ownership. He turned his skills as a community servant into a sports career, when he became director of community relations for then-Pro Player Stadium. He served as media and public relations liaison for the 1997 World Series, the 1999 Super Bowl, 2003 Super Bowl, 2003 World Series and various bowl championships through the Orange Bowl. He also headed the guest relations department at Pro Player Stadium, where he also served in several other capacities, including senior director of operations. He oversaw all operations and interactions with the tenants, the Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins, the Orange Bowl and the University of Miami. He currently serves as the president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.

▪ Wayne E. Rawlins is a community justice and community development consultant who has assisted communities nationwide in developing, implementing and evaluating successful community revitalization, anti-gang and ex-offender reentry strategies. He served as the site coordinator of Miami’s Weed and Seed from 1997 to 2002 and received national acclaim when he was honored with the director’s award from both the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Weed and Seed, as well as the FBI in Washington. He also served on the national evaluation team for Washington’s Urban Institute for the Program Evaluation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Gang Reduction program. He is the developer of, and lead consultant for, the Miami-Dade Anti-Gang Strategy featuring the “walking One Stop,” which has changed the way services are delivered to residents in Miami-Dade’s most challenged neighborhoods. His works have been highlighted in national and international conference and publications.

The Young Pillars Scholarship recipients and the colleges/universities they will attend are Kendia Ellison, Florida A&M University; Jasmine Hodge, Miami Dade College; Terry Jefferson, Florida A&M University; Larry Pye Jr., Florida A&M University; Taressa Straughter, University of Miami; Reginald Turner Jr., University of West Florida; and Aleah Wright, Kent State.

Our thanks and appreciation to Edgar Wright, chair of the Black Heritage Planning Committee, and Retha Boon-Fye, director of the Black Affairs Advisory Board, and everyone else who helped to pull off this event.

‘Morning Mile project’

When school opens again this fall, the children enrolled at Miami-Dade County Parks’ summer camps should be a lot healthier. That’s because the youngsters will have taken part in the “Morning Mile,” a project sponsored by AvMed.

Children taking part in the program will walk, run or jog one mile per day.

To encourage the youngsters and showcase the benefits of walking/running at the start of the day, five Miami-Dade County commissioners and AvMed and Miami-Dade Parks representatives joined campers in a morning kickoff “fun-run” at five district parks. The commissioners and representatives have already joined the youngsters at Arcola Lakes Park, South Dade Park and Hammocks Community Park.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, Commissioner Javier D. Souto will join the youngsters for a run/jog at Ruben Dario Park, 9825 W. Flagler St.

At 8:30 a.m. on July 6, Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz will run/jog with the children attending camp at North Trail Park, 780 NW 127th Ave.

James Tormé sings in Coral Gables

James Tormé, the multi-award winning singer will be featured artist at the Community Arts Program 2015 Summer concert Series at 8 p.m. Thursday at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 De Soto Blvd.

Tormé is a gifted singer whose music infuses older jazz classics with soul and R&B, and who displays the showmanship of his three-time Grammy-awarded father, Mel Tormé.

Tormé and his band will pay tribute to all corners of American music history. General admission tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, based on availability. Patron tickets are $50 in advance and $55 at the door, based on availability. To order your tickets call 305-448-7421, ext. 153.

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.