NOAH E-Newsletter December 2007 / Issue X

Welcome to the December 2007 issue of the NOAH E-Newsletter. We welcome all of our new subscribers! If you've missed any of our previous newsletters, please feel free to check out our online archive. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Thanks for your continued support!


Edna McClendon

In this issue, Edna McClendon, the president of NOAH’s Board of Directors, shares her vision for NOAH and talks about how growing up in the Glades inspires her to speak out and why she is so determined to help people find homes.

McClendon speaks on …

NOAH’s direction
"I think when the board agreed to do a national search for an executive director, that was good," she said of hiring Thomas Roberts several years ago to lead the organization. "He studies, and he listens," she said before repeating the phrase for emphasis. She is impressed with his Ivy League background and likes the fact that he has been in corporate America and can bring professionalism and business practices to guide the human development goals of the organization.

"He leads by example," she said. "He’s above board. He has certainly helped the organization gain the credibility that our founders had in mind from the beginning." She believes his professionalism commands respect and becomes imitated throughout the organization. "If you want a good organization, hire good people."

The Board of Directors
"We have committees, and we have committed to meeting more often. We are taking the time this year, as of our retreat, to aggressively meet. Members have been placed on boards such as finance and planning and have been given specific tasks.

"That’s a way of empowering the board. That’s another way of having oversight. We don’t ever want people to think we are a rubber stamp board because we certainly are not."

NOAH is actively recruiting for diversity in skills on its board, looking for potential members who are in finance, real estate, contracting and architecture.

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President of NOAH’s Board of Directors

Edna McClendon’s Thanksgiving was just another large family gathering in the Glades, but the celebration highlighted her passion for what NOAH does for the community.

About 40 people joined her gathering, and the place was full of success. When McClendon’s mother used a settlement from her husband’s death to buy a house, it cocooned her family’s future. Once McClendon’s mother died while all the children were still young, the house provided security and shelter.

"That was the stabilizing piece that kept us together as a family," she said. Other family members were willing to take in some children, but none wanted to take in all six. So they all stayed together in the house their mother bought, and they all found success as business owners, professionals or skilled workers.

"It’s amazing that my mother had the wherewithal to say ‘I’m going to buy me a house,’" said McClendon, and that has been a guiding influence in her activism ever since.

After getting her degrees in education from NOVA Southeastern University, McClendon started her teaching career in Pahokee, but she did as much teaching and organizing out of the classroom as she did in it.

She was founding president of the Concerned Citizens for Community Improvement in Pahokee which took on housing, recreation, education and politics.

She was active in getting Pahokee City officials in 1989 to agree to name the park known as Pelican Park or 14-acre Park to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

In the 1970s, McClendon was the campaign manager for Roy Singletary’s successful bid to become Pahokee’s first black commissioner. He held the position for 13 years until he vacated it to become Pahokee’s first and only black mayor.

As his campaign manager, McClendon helped change the political landscape in Pahokee. The campaign helped generate more votes than any election in the city’s history.

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Continuing Professional Education
NOAH staff and board members receive certification from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence

Since there is power in knowledge and strength in numbers, Edna McClendon’s plan is for large numbers of people at NOAH to continue seeking knowledge.

The longtime educator promotes a knowledge-hungry culture at NOAH that encourages - even insists - that staff members, supervisors and board members continue to seek opportunities for certifications and leadership training that will help increase the agency's productivity.

"We want to empower workers with the skills they need to provide development for our children," she said. "And we do say child development because that’s what we are trying to do — develop the whole child. We don’t say child care."

"I don’t care how much you think you know, you can always learn something else and use that knowledge to build a better organization," she said. "If you’re a plumber and they’ve got something new and you need more skills, go to school."

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Annaul Homecoming Coronation
The children at the Farrar and Mary Alice Fortin Family Development Centers enjoy a jam-packed social calendar built on top of their regular daily activities.

In just three days, for example, starting on Oct. 17 during the second Annual Homecoming Coronation, Markevious Jessie and Asia Weston were named Farrar King & Queen. The title of Princess went to Shadajah Bush.

On the same day, Farrar & Fortin Children attended the Max & Ruby Show at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center in Belle Glade. The next day a local librarian came to the Farrar center to read a story and dance along to music with the children.

On Oct.19, the Farrar and Fortin Centers represented NOAH in the Annual Glades Central Community High School Homecoming Parade. Representing the Fortin Royal Court were Demetrius Roundtree, Taniyah Jackson and Shaniyah McCarthy. On Oct. 29, the centers hosted their Open House/Parent Meeting/Halloween Party, which featured three speakers – Mrs. Bookal from Life Links; Mrs. Ida Gordon of "Children Learn What They Live;" and Mrs. Matilda R. Edwards, director of the Farrar and Fortin centers. NOAH Executive Director Thomas Roberts provided closing remarks.

On Oct. 31, the centers had their Halloween Bash with games, activities, music, cake and candy, followed by a Nov. 15 Thanksgiving luncheon, at which parents were invited to join their children. With Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s coming up, there will be plenty more holiday activities for the children to participate in.


New Fortin Center Bus It may not be The Magic School Bus, but the new mini bus for the Mary Alice Fortin Family Development Center in South Bay should help to create some magical moments.

With the specially equipped, 22-seat Kidette Mini-bus, field trips are now possible. That means new adventures are on the way. NOAH managers have long desired a vehicle to help transport the children to places in and outside the Glades.

The wish-list item was made possible after several charitable gifts were made by donors from the Glades to the island of Palm Beach.

A sold-out food and wine sampling event that attracted 200 guests at Bethesda-by-the-Sea for $100 per ticket raised $19,000 toward the bus, which cost more than $40,000. The Episcopal Church Women’s group at Bethesda organized the event.

The Mary Alice Fortin Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, made up the difference to give the children transportation for new experiences that will take them to cultural events and enrichment activities.

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