Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Miami Gardens should conjure images of fun times, not gunshots

In 2013: Daresha Pender, 14, left; and Alize Forshee, 14, hold a banner in memory of Daresha's step-sister and Alize's sister, 12-year-old Tequila Forshee, killed Aug. 15 by gunshots fired into her grandmother's Miami Gardens. Tequila was among those remembered on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 during the Miami Gardens Christian Community Against Crime's "Prayer Rally" at the Betty T. Ferguson Center, 3000 NW 199th St. There, hundreds of people gathered to pray for an end to violent crimes and gang activity in the city.
In 2013: Daresha Pender, 14, left; and Alize Forshee, 14, hold a banner in memory of Daresha's step-sister and Alize's sister, 12-year-old Tequila Forshee, killed Aug. 15 by gunshots fired into her grandmother's Miami Gardens. Tequila was among those remembered on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 during the Miami Gardens Christian Community Against Crime's "Prayer Rally" at the Betty T. Ferguson Center, 3000 NW 199th St. There, hundreds of people gathered to pray for an end to violent crimes and gang activity in the city. Miami Herald File

I had scarcely taken word of a drive-by shooting of a man shot in front of his girlfriend’s children, when the noon news reported more trouble in Miami Gardens: Early in the morning of Jan. 26, there had been a shooting in a gated community in The Gardens. Another man injured.

And I am thinking ... what’s going on here?

The name Miami Gardens should bring to mind a warm and wonderful place to live. A community where young couples shop for their first home because they see it as a great place to bring up their future children.

The name should bring to mind pictures of families in the park with their children; shirtless men — fathers and sons mowing their lawns, and families having backyard barbecues or just sitting on their front porches shooting the breeze. You get the picture. The name Miami Gardens sounds like a place you are not afraid to call “home.”

Instead, more often than not, these days whenever the name Miami Gardens is mentioned it conjures up scenes of police cars with lights flashing; yellow tape placed around crime scenes and people who are afraid to come outdoors in the evening.

While I don’t have the answers (I wish I did), I do know that this crime war should not be happening —not in my Miami Gardens.

I moved to the Miami Gardens area in 1971. My home was located in what was called “unincorporated Dade County because it was between Opa-locka and Carol City. I’d moved from Liberty City, which was then branded a high crime area. I had two young sons and wanted a safer place for them to grow up. Back then, the neighbors were friendly and thoughtful —we looked out for each other.

Later on my sons and I moved to a different house near Carol City High School. My mom stayed in the first house. It wasn’t until my mother had a debilitating stroke that I moved back in our original house to become her caregiver.

It was about that time (in 1996) that I noticed life was not the same in the old neighborhood. There were bars on more windows and fences around yards and security company signs in front yards, warning the would-be crooks. But it didn’t seem to matter at all to the young boys who openly sold drugs on a nearby street corner. (A few outcries from neighborhood watchers to the police soon brought an end to that.)

Still, I had hope for our neighborhood. Many of the old neighbors still lived here and a couple of them had keys to our house when my mom was alive, in case of an emergency. Then came the time to vote for a new city. It would be called Miami Gardens.

While some people fought the incorporating of a new city, I voted for it. Dreamer that I am, I thought this would be the chance for this black neighborhood to become the envy of Miami-Dade and South Florida and even the entire country.

Not so. Instead, according to some statistics, Miami Gardens has grown to have one of the highest crime rates —51 per 1,000 residents — in America.

To be fair, not all areas of Miami Gardens have been affected by crime. Yet. And there are some good things coming out of the city. Take Sun Life Stadium and Betty Ferguson Recreation Center, and local neighborhood churches for example. These are bright spots in Miami Gardens, with activities going all all the time. Some churches, in addition to helping schoolchildren with uniforms and school supplies, have organized marches against crime.

But we can do more. We need to organize more neighborhood crime watch organizations. We can’t lived behind our locked gates and barred windows and tremble with fear every time we hear gunshots.

We do need to be brave enough to report crimes when we see them happening. We need to care about our neighbors and the children growing up in our neighborhoods. We need to be diligent.

Friends, I fear that if the wave of crime that is stripping our city of its beauty, isn’t eradicated real soon, people won’t want to come here, out of pure fear.

And we don’t want that to happen.

Church to celebrate 114th anniversary

Now for the good news: The Rev. Dr. George E. McRae, pastor of Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church at 10500 NW Seventh Ave., invites you to celebrate the church’s 114th anniversary at 10 a.m. on Feb. 8.

Last year, the church moved to its present location, where it continues to be a positive influence in the community through its many ministries and missionary work.

The theme for the anniversary service is: “By Faith We Have the Victory.” The Rev. Dr. Zachary Royal of St. Mary Baptist Church, will be the guest speaker.

Royal earned his master of divinity degree from Virginia Union University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University. He is known throughout the religious community as a “dynamic” speaker.

The community is invited. For more information call the church at 305-756-2583 or 305-756-2584.

2015 Archbishop’s Motorcycle Poker Run

Archbishop Thomas Wenski invites the community to the 2015 Archbishop’s Motorcycle Poker Run to begin with an at 8 a.m. Mass Sunday at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary-St. Richard Catholic Church, 7500 SW 152nd St. in Palmetto Bay. Following the Mass, celebrated by Wenski, the “Kick Stands Up” will be at 9:30 a.m.

The first stop will be 9:45 a.m. at Harris Park, 1034 NE Eighth St. in Homestead.

The following stops will be at:

▪ 11 a.m. at AREPASO, 3900 NW 79th Ave., #124, Doral.

▪ 12:15 p.m. at Friction Zone, 7001 W. 20th Ave., Hialeah.

▪ 1:15 for the final stop at Peterson’s Harley Davidson, 19400 NW Second Ave., Miami Gardens.

Registration is $25 for single riders and $40 for couples. Registration includes a commemorative T-shirt. The winning hand receives a $500 Peterson’s Harley Davidson gift card. All proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities’s St. Luke Center, an award-winning alcohol and drug rehab treatment center.

To register, call 305-762-1051 or send an email to: mvelasquez@theadom.org.

Services and events at Temple Beth El in Hollywood

Temple Beth El of Hollywood invites you to the following services and events Saturday through Feb. 7:

At 6 p.m. Saturday the temple will host a Bingo and Pasta Night and invites you to bring your entire family for an “evening of great food, fun and chances to win fabulous prizes.” Reservations are $30 per adult and $15 per child. Children 3 and under are admitted free. Call the temple office at 954-920-8225 to RSVP.

Sunday the temple will have a Tu B’Shevat Celebration (blessing of the animals) at noon on the front lawn of the temple.

Rabbi Romiel Daniel will be the guest speaker at Shabbat services at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6. Daniel is the weekend Scholar in Residence at the temple. His topic will be: “The Jews of India: History, Culture, Rituals and Traditions.”

Daniel will be the guest speaker at the temple’s Torah Study at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7. His topic will be: “Comparative Religion: Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.”

The temple is at 1351 S. 14th Ave. in Hollywood.

Winter Indoor Yards Sale

It is time again for the annual Winter Indoor Yards Sale, presented by Palm Springs United Methodist Church at 5700 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah.

The sale will be held on two weekends — from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 6 and 7, and Feb. 13 and 14.

My friend Nancy Perez tells me that you won’t be disappointed at the selection of items for sale. “There will be bargains galore with low prices and in-house specials everyday,” she said.

In addition, there will be lots of craft supplies, clothing, linens, records, videos, toys and kids’ vehicles, baby items, luggage, lamps, pictures, collectables, books and holiday items and decorations.

And if you get hungry with all the shopping. lunch and snack foods will also be for sale. All money raised will be used for church work and missions. For more information call 305-821-3232, 305-821-2073 or send an email to: ofice@palmspringsumc.com.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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