Community Voices

Volunteers, their children celebrate Kenwoods Outdoor Learning Center

Educator and falconer John Jones, known as ‘Otter John,’ holds a screech owl during his program showcasing South Florida wildlife, in Tori's Treehouse, the gazebo built by volunteers for the Kenwoods Outdoor Learning Center (KOLC), or affectionately, ‘the hammock,’ on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
Educator and falconer John Jones, known as ‘Otter John,’ holds a screech owl during his program showcasing South Florida wildlife, in Tori's Treehouse, the gazebo built by volunteers for the Kenwoods Outdoor Learning Center (KOLC), or affectionately, ‘the hammock,’ on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

Like parents love and nurture their children, the volunteers at Kenwoods Outdoor Learning Center have been guiding the schoolyard-planting project for 30 years.

It all started in 1986 when some parents, teachers and neighbors, near what was then Kenwood Elementary School, began small by planting trees and bushes that are native plants of South Florida.

The sign now says “Kenwoods Supported by Community Volunteers Since 1986,” but everyone just calls it “the hammock.” Over 30 years, it has grown into a state and national award-winning community beautification project that we can all be proud of.

On April 30, longtime volunteers and graduates from Kenwood Elementary, now the Kenwood K-8 Center, turned out to celebrate the anniversary called “30 on 30.”

The volunteers, and the children and grandchildren of some of those original gardeners, gathered under Tori’s Treehouse, the gazebo erected by volunteers in 1990.

They all came to honor “one of the largest and longest-surviving schoolyard planting projects,” said Henry Block, volunteer and coordinator for 30 years, in an email.

He was excited that his daughter, Kefryn Block Reese (Kenwood ’88), would be there with her two children. Block got ready for the celebration by “pitching mulch!”

Because that’s what volunteers, and parents, just do.


Bring family and friends to enjoy the wonderful musical culture of South Florida at the 18th annual pops concert performed by the Greater Miami Symphonic Band at 8 p.m. May 10 at Maurice Gusman Hall at the University of Miami, 1314 Miller Dr., Coral Gables.

The event, themed Moon Over Miami, will feature conductor Robert Longfield’s program including the hit song Moon Over Miami, “Best of the Miami Sound Machine,” a tribute to KC and The Sunshine Band performed by the GMSB Big Swing Band, Dade Variations by Longfield, Miami March by Henry Fillmore, and other popular and classical selections.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students and children over 5 years old. Tickets are available at the box office the day of the concert, or in advance at Cash, check and credit cards accepted. Check out the site for more on other events, and donating or band membership.


This is your chance to see a beautiful historic home and its garden that’s not often open to the public. The Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables will host a reception from 5-8 p.m. May 22 at Montgomery Botanical Center, 11901 Old Cutler Rd.

All guests will delight in cocktails, along with fresh and made-to-order crepes al fresco, a live jazz trio, and sunset vistas in a gorgeous garden setting.

“Be sure to join us to see the spectacular views of the sunset over the palm-lined skyline at this historic home and garden all to benefit historic preservation in Coral Gables and beyond," said Karelia Martinez Carbonell, HPACG president.

Tickets are $50 for members, $65 for nonmembers, and $75 for VIP tickets. VIP admission includes a champagne welcome reception from 5-6:30 p.m., a private guided tour of the gardens and a brief history of the 1930s property by director Patrick Griffith.

Send your reservations to and for more on this group, visit


Members of Gilded Lilies, an auxiliary to Easter Seals South Florida, spent a beautiful day by Biscayne Bay at their Tropical Lilies Legacy Luncheon annual fundraiser. The group raised $25,000 for Easter Seals through donations and silent auction items at the event held at The Rusty Pelican and hosted by Chicos. Music was by Good Blend string quartet.

The next event, a luncheon, will be at 11:30 a.m. May 25 at Brio Tuscan Grille, 8888 SW 136th St. at The Falls. Cost is $25. RSVP to Eugenia McCrea by calling 305-774-3368.

All are welcome to join in to meet the recent six new members, and to learn about this dedicated group. Check out for adult and senior services, free summer day camps for children and adolescents with autism and ASD-related challenges, a culinary arts training camp for young adults, military and veteran services, and much more.


Get involved or visit to hear a special speaker hosted by the Rotary Club of Miami Dadeland-Pinecrest. This active community service group meets for breakfast every month on the second and fourth Tuesday mornings.

The Spring Membership Drive is open, and specialists are needed to fill vacancies in these classifications: journalist, dentist, veterinarian, optometrist, chiropractor, psychologist, publicist, computer technician, security service, plumber, printer, and architect. Members also are sought for the physician, and lawyer sub-classifications.

Coming up, 7:30-8:30 a.m., May 10, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson will talk about “Why We Continue to Need Planned Parenthood.” On May 24, the club members and guest will hear David Lorenzo, author of How To Be Great At Networking — Even If You Hate People.

The Rotary Club of Miami Dadeland-Pinecrest meets at the Dadeland Marriott Hotel, 9090 S. Dadeland Blvd. Contact Howard Horowitz at 786-346-6661, or, or Ron Lieberman at 305-613-6744 or

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at