It’s been a busy year so far. I recently passed legislation recognizing the incredible contributions and legacy of former Mayor Oliver Gilbert by renaming the Sunshine State Arch as the Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert Arch. This area is set to be developed into a vibrant space where residents and visitors can come together to enjoy food, drinks, and entertainment.
In April and May, we addressed the issue of food insecurity by distributing more than 10,000 pounds of fresh food each month, serving approximately 450 households in total. We partnered with organizations like Farm Share and Feeding South Florida to provide essential items to the families in our community.
With funds from a $100,000 federal grant, in collaboration with Live Healthy Miami Gardens, we initiated a community garden project where 200 residents were awarded their own garden beds and provided with resources like soil and vegetable seeds. We hold monthly workshops and maintain an active Facebook group where participants share their progress, seek advice, and showcase their culinary creations.
We hosted the first annual Multicultural Festival in May, showcasing various cultures through food, performances, and storytelling. Miami Gardens is made up of people from varying ethnicities and heritage, and this event highlighted the diversity in culture in our community.
We actively promoted the Hurricane Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, informing residents about the tax exemptions on storm preparation supplies like tarps, generators, sandbags and flashlights.
In June — National Homeownership Month — my office donated $2,000 to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), whose South Florida office is located in Miami Gardens. The organization played a crucial role in advocating for Black realtors during times of segregation. This donation will help fund closing costs for three to four new homeowners, supporting their journey toward homeownership.
In collaboration with NAREB, I hosted an event offering information about various homebuyer programs, including VA loans and the Hometown Hero program, which provides up to $35,000 in down payment funds.
To strengthen our bond with the community, I organize quarterly community cleanups where we come together to beautify different areas of the City. As part of this initiative, I invite elected officials and government representatives to participate, thereby bringing government to the people and providing an opportunity for residents to interact with those who make laws on their behalf.
I’m passionate about education and mentorship, so I organize essay contests through my Earn As You Learn Initiative. Under this program, students have the opportunity to win scholarships by writing about influential figures during specific heritage months.
Throughout the year, I also focus on supporting small businesses by awarding a monthly grant of $1,000 to entrepreneurs in our City.
In August, I’ll host my annual Back to School Trunk Giveaway, providing essential items like laptops, microwaves, and refrigerators to 25 to 30 college-bound students who are residents of Miami Gardens or attend schools in the area. We want to ensure these students start their college journeys with a strong foundation and support.
We’re also preparing for the upcoming Mango Festival later this year and for the Science Fair in December.
One of the former Science Fair participants is also my summer intern. I’m always happy to pour into our kids because an investment in our children yields the greatest return. I always say,” They’re not going to jail; they’re going to Yale!”
As Miami Gardens turns 20, I feel immense pride in how far we’ve come as a City. Looking ahead, I’m excited about the future and the prospect of making the next 20 years even greater.