Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Disney Dreamers Academy to welcome 100 students from all over U.S.

I want to send a “shout-out” to Disney Dreamers Academy, radio and television personality Steve Harvey and Essence magazine, who have the future of our children and their dreams at heart.

Recently, 100 students from throughout the United States were selected for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy, to be March 5 through 8 at Walt Disney World Resort. The four-day event will be hosted by Disney World, Harvey and Essence. This is the academy’s eighth year.

The 100 youths participating were selected from nearly 10,000 applicants, who answered a series of essay questions about their personal stories, the people who are most influential in their lives and their dreams for the future. Nine of them are from Florida.

And of the nine, three are from South Florida: D’Andre Ragin, Miami; Keno Tate, Miramar; and Shanese Campbell, West Park.

According to an academy news release, the selected teens, along with their parent or guardian, will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Disney World, where they will be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big, discover a world of possibilities and prepare for their future.

During their stay at the resort, the theme parks will become classrooms for the Dreamers, where they will learn such skills as communication techniques and networking strategies; build confidence; and create lots of fun memories. The workshops will be led by industry experts, covering various career paths from animation to zoology.

For more information about the academy and to learn how you can be a participant, go to:

TREEmendous Miami picnic, meeting

Thinking of things to do after church today?

Well, TREEmendous Miami, a group of volunteers who have planted more than 25,000 trees in our area in the past 16 years, will have a picnic and its annual meeting starting at 3 p.m. Sunday in Virginia Key Beach Park.

According to Steve Pearson, president of the organization, Virginia Key Park is one of the most important works to date, because the group is trying to restore the native maritime hammock that is needed to support migratory and local birds, as well as other native fauna, including marine life that depend on healthy mangroves and beaches.

“We also hope that, as we increase the environmental value of Virginia Key, the community will better appreciate how lucky we are to have this jewel so close to a crowded urban area and how important it is to preserve it as a part of our heritage,” he said.

The program will start with a tour of some of the organization’s work on the beach, followed by its annual meeting at 4 p.m. The appreciation picnic will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Orange Pavilion. The historic park is at 4020 Virginia Beach Dr. on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The park entrance is at a traffic light across from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Let the park attendant know that you are there for the TREEmendous Miami event and you will not be charged for parking.

For more information go

Women’s Clubs luncheon and meeting

The Dade County Federation of Women’s Clubs will meet at noon Wednesday at the Coco Plum Woman’s Club. The community is invited to hear guest speaker Marcia Braun talk about heart disease. Braun is associated with Baptist Health South Florida.

Before the lunch and program, the club will have a trustee meeting at 9:30 a.m., followed by a board and membership meeting at 10:30 a.m.

Reservations for lunch ($18 per person) should have been made by Jan. 23. There still may be time to RSVP for lunch by calling Dona Lewis at 305-251-5805 or by sending an email to

If you go, please remember to bring a pair of socks, or several pairs, with you. The club is collecting socks for our veterans.

The Coco Plum Woman’s Club is at 1375 Sunset Dr. in Coral Gables.

Black History Month event Feb. 15 in Miami

Save the date of Feb. 15 to attend the 22nd annual Commemorative Service and Youth Talent on Parade, to be at 3 p.m. inside Biscayne Park, located next to the Miami City Cemetery, 1800 NE Second Ave.

The event is sponsored by the African American Committee of Dade Heritage Trust and is a part of the organization’s Black History Month celebration.

This year’s celebration will also honor Christopher C. Scott, who according to Enid C. Pinkney, was a “little-known African-American incorporator of the city of Miami.” The program will include the unveiling of a headstone placed at Scott’s grave.

According to the 1900 U.S. Census, Scott was born in Georgia in November 1871. After moving to Miami, he became a homeowner in Coconut Grove, where he worked as a plumber. An educated man, Scott was able to help dispel rumors about Henry Flagler regarding Negroes.

Also, the organization will honor the life of Leome Scavella Culmer, who for 21 years served as chairman of the Commemorative Service, and Wilfred McKenzie, both pioneer members who died last year. Maud Newbold will replace Culmer as the chairwoman of the service.

The program will also include presenting the talents of teens Keya, Kayla and Kaysia Curtis; Jaquan Cannon; Jayson Michel and Franklin F. Sands III. Dr. Richard Strachan will direct the youth talent.

Winners of the essay contest, “Why I Am Proud of My Heritage,” will be announced at the event.

Everyone is invited to this free event. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call 305-638-5800.

Akerman lauded for helping at-risk youth

Our hats are tipped to the Akerman law firm, which, according to a news release, has for the second consecutive year been recognized by the Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Bar for “their devotion to pro bono work and for their extraordinary efforts benefiting at-risk youth.”

Last year, Karen Meyer Buesing, a partner with the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, accepted the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award for her “unwavering commitment to the assistance of homeless youth.”

Akerman Chairman and CEO Andrew Smulian said, “Our lawyers and staff have a long-standing tradition of doing good and giving back, and a genuine passion for uplifting the lives of disadvantaged youth in our communities.”

With the launch of a firm-wide “Give Back” campaign during Foster Care Awareness Month in May 2014, Akerman pledged to achieve an even greater impact in the community, particularly in the areas of education and youth development.

For more information about Akerman and its programs, call Nick Facchin at 305-374-5600.

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.