Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Nothing can prepare us for the shocking stories in today’s news

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

Each morning when I wake up, my first thoughts turn to God, thanking Him for another day. Then, I turn on the news and prepare myself for hearing the worst.

Nothing could have prepared me for the news of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas, whose body was found Sunday night inside a locked freezer in a relative’s garage. She was allegedly placed there by her own mother.

Then, there was the sad news about a road-rage shooting in which a little girl was murdered. OK. So someone just cut you off in traffic. It made you mad, and since you already have your gun laying on the passenger seat of your car, what’s to keep you from picking it up and shooting out the windows of the car that cut you off? It doesn’t matter if a life is snuffed out because of a silly, old mishap.

And if that wasn’t enough, there was the story about the hit-and-run in which the victim was killed and the driver of the car — taking a picture of the victim — then tweeting, “Just killed someone; RIP.”

Such stories leave my head spinning. Have we become a nation of people who lack compassion for our fellow humans?

I can never explain away a mother harming her children. And I can never understand how the Florida Department of Children and Families, which is supposed to keep children safe, let Keishanna Thomas get away with allegedly abusing her children and possibly murdering one of them.

According to a Miami Herald report, Thomas decided she had had enough of caseworkers coming to her home. “Ms. Thomas became uncooperative,” read a report. And while DCF could have asked a judge to force Thomas to let workers into her home to accept their oversight, agency lawyers instead insisted the state walk away.

Now a child is dead. Who knows what she could have become? Now, we will never know.

And the more I think about road rage and the senseless shootings that accompany it, or the drive-by shootings that are taking away a vast number of our youth, I can’t help but think about our lawmakers, who seem to be trying to place a gun in every hand, regardless of the state of mind of the person. Already in some states, gun owners can carry their weapons openly. Every time I see a picture of a person wearing a gun and holster, I am reminded of the old western movies, where everyone wore a gun and usually could shoot anybody, at will.

But this isn’t the movies when a person is “shot” and then. This is real life, people. And in real life, killing is for keeps.

And it used to be that if a person accidentally ran over a person, or even somebody’s pet, the driver of the car would stop to see what could be done to help the victim. Nowadays, that is very rare. Today it seems that the simpler thing to do if you accidentally run over someone, is to become part of a hit-and-run statistic. Now, it becomes more than an accident. It becomes a crime. I know accidents will happen. That’s real life, too. But when a driver of a car runs over a person, leaving him or her to die like an animal in the street, that seems like something from The Twilight Zone.

COMMUNITY LEADERS TO BE RECOGNIZED

Then, there is the good news.

On Nov. 7, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade will recognize three community leaders for their many contributions that have helped pave the way to a better future for Miami’s youth.

Rodrigo Arboleda, Melissa Medina and Eris Thomas will be honored at the organization’s annual Wild About Kids gala and after-party to be held at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne.

Arboleda will receive the From the Heart award. He serves as chairman and CEO of the One Laptop Per Child Association, a nonprofit that has revolutionized education and empowered creative thinking for children worldwide.

Medina is president of the Medina Family Foundation and vice president of Business Development for eMerge Americas. She will be honored with the Community Builder award.

Thomas, CEO of Coral Gables Executive Physicians, will receive the Charles “Bebe” Rebozo Humanitarian award, which recognizes an individual or family who has shown overwhelming support, leadership and dedication to the organization and its children.

The gala is an annual event hosted by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami Dade to raise funds to support its local youth programs — after school and summer camp — throughout the year. This year’s event will include youth performances, silent auction items, surprise guests, and an after-party. Attorneys/community leaders Gabriela Rachadell de Delgado and Elizabeth Patino are chairs of the event.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade serves more than 8,000 youths annually throughout its clubs: Gwen Cherry Clubs, South Beach, Southwest Coconut Grove and Northwest.

For sponsorships and underwriting opportunities, in-kind donations and tickets for the event contact Kati Foley, director of Special Events and Development at 305-446-9910, ext. 30, or email her at kfoley@bgcmia.org.

BOLEROS MEETS JAZZ CONCERT

At 8:30 p.m. Oct. 31, WDNA 88.9FM Public Radio, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Auditorium will present a concert, Boleros Meets Jazz, directed by Brian Lynch. The program will feature special guest artists Candido Camero, Donald Harrison and Gema Corredera, and will be held at the auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St.

Tickets prices range from $30 to $100 and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or at MDCA Box Office, 305-547-5414.

COMMISSION FOR WOMEN MEETING

The next meeting of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Curtiss Mansion, 500 Deer Run, Miami Springs.

The meeting is open to the public. All residents are encouraged to attend and learn more about the mission of the organization. The Commission for Woman is especially interested in hearing from women about their issues and concerns.

DOCTOR TO DISCUSS EATING DISORDERS

The Miami chapter of International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals Foundation invites the community to hear Dr. Kevin Wandler lecture on the topic, Drunkorexia: Understanding Binge Eating and Eating Disorders in Substance Abusing Patients.

The event will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday at the Courtyard Marriott Coconut Grove Hotel, 2549 S. Bayshore Dr. Professional networking will be from 8:30 to 9 a.m.

Wandler’s dedication to the treatment of eating disorders began in 1995, when he became medical director at Remuda Ranch, an eating disorder treatment facility in Wickenburg, Arizona. Under his leadership, he helped grow the program from 20 beds to more than 150. He relocated to Florida and created the Eating Disorder Recovery Center at University of Florida Health, prior to serving as the founding medical director for the recovery center.

To register and for more information visit iaedpmiami@gmail.com.

A FEW EVENTS TO SING ABOUT

The Miami Children’s Chorus will present conductor/master teacher Doreen Rao in two local events.

On Oct. 30, Rao will lead Arts Day — A Professional Development Day for Miami-Dade County Public School teachers. The session will be at Florida International University, where Rao will focus on 21st century strategies and techniques for teaching choral music for youth from elementary school through high school.

At 2:30 p.m. Nov. 1, Rao will present Sing Miami, a free community sing-along at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Free tickets for Sing Miami are available at by visiting arshtcenter.org or calling 305-949-6722.

RETIRED TEACHER ELECTED SORORITY REGIONAL DIRECTOR

I don’t think it is ever too late to congratulate someone on their accomplishments. In this case, I am sending warm congratulations to my friend Delores Davis Hill, who during the 48th Southeast Regional Conference of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa was elected southeast region director. She is the first South Floridian to serve in this capacity.

The conference was held in April in Atlanta. But I didn’t learn of Hill’s election until recently, when her sister Cupidine D. Dean, a retired elementary school principal, sent me a note about Hill’s accomplishment.

I’ve known Hill nearly all my life. She is a native Miamian and was educated in Miami-Dade County. She graduated in 1955 from Booker T. Washington Junior Senior High School. She has bachelor’s in elementary education from Florida A&M University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Northern Colorado. She retired from Miami Dade Schools after 31 years as a classroom teacher and guidance counselor.

Shortly after she was elected her chapter, Gamma Omicron sponsored a surprise luncheon in her honor.

I tip my hat to you, Delores. I am so proud of you.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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