The Kendall District Citizens Advisory Committee award as “Citizen of the Month” usually is presented when someone helps police solve a case.
For James L. Marshall and his wife, Dr. Wylamerle G. Marshall, long active in Richmond Heights and Miami-Dade County civic causes, the honor by the Miami-Dade Police Kendall District CAC at its July 30 meeting marked the couple’s 40 years of leadership to benefit their community.
Both retired school administrators, Mr. Marshall is a former assistant principal at Hammocks Middle School while Dr. Marshall served as principal for Tropical Elementary School and as an expert in special education student services.
Today, the Richmond Heights Neighborhood Resource Center they founded and now directed by their son, Vaughan Marshall, has become a central agency to help fellow citizens meet continuing community needs.
A unique interaction social service that serves needs of an estimated 1,000 residents each month, the center staff includes a fulltime nurse, off-duty police assistance and a fulltime social worker, all dedicated to assisting children. They also provide twice-daily meals during summer months.
The Marshalls’ efforts in behalf of Richmond Heights date back to 1974 when the couple spearheaded a successful fight against potential sewer plant construction off SW 152nd Street. The proposed site is now occupied by Coral Reef Senior High School, which has become one of the highest-rated magnet schools in the U. S. Its Academy of Business and Finance was recognized in May as one of 22 winners of the National Academy Foundation Distinguished Academy Award.
The Richmond Heights Homeowners Association, established in 1983, came about largely through the Marshalls’ efforts to create a representative group to speak for community residents, an organization they then helped maintain for more than three decades.
When Hurricane Andrew devastated Richmond Heights in August 1992, the Marshalls helped establish a school program for children who were then forced to relocate from damaged schools to keep up with schoolwork through tutoring and mentoring programs.
With a $300,000 grant and the assistance of then State Attorney Janet Reno, the program led to the opening of the Richmond Heights Neighborhood Resource Center, now established in permanent headquarters at 11225 SW 152 St.
At age 83, they both still remain active in retirement by helping to fund special center events like “Back to School” distributions for more than 500 youngsters in mid-August.
The Marshalls’ accomplishments on behalf of their community “have been nothing short of an outstanding effort,” wrote Barry White, Citizens Advisory Council chair, who presented them with the citation along with Maj. Christopher Carothers, Kendall District commander.