| ROBERTS NAMED ONE OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 50 MOST POWERFUL BLACK PROFESSIONALS
NOAH Executive Director, Thomas Roberts, was honored as one of South Florida's 50 Most Powerful Black Professionals by "Success South Florida" magazine.
Roberts was one of about a dozen movers and shakers from Palm Beach County to be honored – including one other Glades advocate, Clarence Anthony, the longtime mayor of South Bay.
Roberts was listed in "Success South Florida's" Black Power issue, along with University of Miami Head Football Coach Randy Shannon and famed Treasure Coast attorney Willie Gary. The honorees and their guests enjoyed a March 22 black-tie reception at Mercedes-Benz of Pembroke Pines.
Roberts was selected for the honor because, as NOAH's leader, he is a lead proponent of Glades revitalization and has forged relationships with other agencies to help bring financial assets to the area. He sits on the boards of the Palm Beach County Housing Finance Authority and the Glades Initiative Corp.
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|NOAH BUYS LOTS FOR NEW SINGLE FAMILY HOMES; COVENANT GARDENS ON TRACK TO REACH COMPLETION THIS SUMMER
NOAH recently closed on the purchase of 10 waterfront view lots in the Radarville Section of Belle Glade for the development of single family homes.
"It will be something very new and exciting," said NOAH Executive Director Thomas Roberts. "We're moving along and have purchased the lots, and we're looking at some new-style construction methods that may help bring down prices. I have to see more detail on the construction."
Roberts is in discussion with a European construction company that uses a relatively new style of steel-framed houses that has shown signs of exceptional potential in the industry. Some insiders have said steel-framed homes are revolutionizing the industry. High-quality steel homes do not shrink, warp, rot or attract termites. Plus, with the world’s supply of wood declining, many are looking to steel as a sturdy alternative. With a history of hurricanes and moisture in The Glades, homes here might benefit from steel construction. But while research and negotiations are ongoing, both NOAH and the construction company are motivated to move quickly.
“They seem to be really interested,” Roberts said. “They want to have a house in here by February.”
|CAMPUSES THROUGHOUT GLADES JOIN 'HANDS' FOR CHILDREN'S DAY
Children’s Day was a banner Day in The Glades as this year’s April 4 celebration was a throwback to the community-wide celebrations of the late 1990s.
For the first time in nearly 10 years, child development centers in South Bay, Belle Glade and Pahokee came together to celebrate the 13th annual Children’s Day together, instead of holding individual celebrations.
"There was something in the neighborhood of 400 to 500 children out on that day," said Matilda Edwards, director of the Mary Alice Fortin Family Development Center. More than 20 centers participated in the celebration at Rardin Park in Pahokee, where Tana Ebbole, the chief executive officer of the Palm Beach County Children's Services Council, was the keynote speaker.
"This is an annual thing," Edwards said, "but it's the first time since 1999 or 2000 that we've done something collaboratively."
Lutheran Services Florida/Peppi Head Start coordinated the efforts to bring the centers together, and Edwards served on the committee. Each center chose different color T-shirts for their children to wear.
"If you looked at it from the sky, (I'm sure) it looked like a rainbow," Edwards said. "It made for a beautiful gathering."
That was not the only beautiful and colorful gathering NOAH children participated in as part of Children's Day. The kids also made a banner of hand prints to be hung in the rotunda of the state Capitol Building in Tallahassee with nearly 100,000 other handprints, marking Children's Week in the Florida Legislature.
Theresa Fordham Jones, who works closely with State Rep. Priscilla Taylor's office, took the handprints up to the Capitol, where volunteers hung them with the others to create a canopy of colors. The annual "hanging of hands" is an encouragement for lawmakers think about how their decisions on the state budget affect programs that serve children and families.
"The children actually did a month of preparation" to make the banner, Edwards said. Kids and staff also did a set to hang locally in city halls in the Glades.
|FORTIN CHILDREN CELEBRATE SEASONAL HOLIDAYS
"They like celebrating holidays in South Bay. The days help children learn and play. With Valentines, shamrocks and a special birthday, they like holidays in South Bay, we say."
The children in the pre-K class at the Mary Alice Fortin Family Development center performed in the South Bay City Chambers to celebrate the birthday of children's author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
"We sang some songs in his honor, and the pre-K class dressed up in his hat," said Matilda Edwards, the center's director.
The children also enjoyed readings from some of the 40-plus books Seuss had written that had become famous for his imagination and frequent use of rhymed prose. It was one of the many activities that the kids and staff at the center enjoyed, as they maintained their usual busy schedule. On Feb. 14, the children exchanged Valentines Day cards and enjoyed cupcakes.
The centers celebrated St. Patrick's Day on March 17 with a bash that included parents, sack races, musical chairs, duck pond and a game called pin the corn on the shamrock. And on Easter, the children broke out their Easter baskets for some vigorous egg-hunting.
But a break in the routine is not always about holidays. On Feb. 5, the staff was trained on how to properly use a fire extinguisher. The session reflected NOAH's corporate policy to continue staff development and training, which has included first aid and CPR to certification and education in how to improve social services.
|BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – NORMAN HARRISON
Name: Norman Harrison
Job Title: Computer support specialist for University of Florida Agricultural and Research Station in the Glades. He has been in the job for 30 years.
NOAH title: Vice-Treasurer on the Board of Directors
Personal: Married to Mae Campbell Harrison. Graduated in 1966 from Lakeshore Junior/Senior High School. Served in the Marine Corps for seven years during the Viet Nam war. "That's when I picked up my training in computers. I worked at headquarters."
How I became involved with NOAH: "One of the founders was employed here at UF as a chemist. He had introduced me to NOAH, but I wasn't ready to join. So I knew about NOAH, and I knew about its purpose and why it was organized. (Prior NOAH Executive Director) John Brown was a classmate of mine. When he became the first executive director, I was asked by him to join, and I've been here ever since."
The best thing about working with NOAH is: "Its mission; what it's trying to address. I always looked at the Glades as a place where they pooled people to satisfy agricultural needs, and it seemed like it was missing the point of their well being. Their heath, moral energy and everything seemed like it was being deprived, and NOAH came about and the mission addressed something I saw as very important."
I am most proud of: "Just seeing the construction and the facilities that NOAH has provided -- like the senior complex. We have three story buildings out here. Just seeing all those people who worked hard all their lives have a nice place to stay. It’s like a community within a community. That's a shining example in Belle Glade.
"The City of Belle Glade, if they really looked at this and looked at what NOAH has done and if they would build on vacant lots and buildings and eliminate hanging out areas, they could really revitalize the town. The people moving in those homes are people who take pride in their homes. It's like a transformation.
"People in crowded homes lose self esteem. NOAH has been a vehicle where we go out and construct the creative financing to make it happen."
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|MOVING ON, MOVING UP AND MOVING IN
The Mary Alice Fortin Family Development Center moved its operations into the Farrar Family Development Center, which ended its child care services in December due to lack of enrollment. The move, which took place on Jan. 2, 2008, pleases the Fortin Foundation members because the new center provides more client slots to serve children who are labeled "failing to thrive." The new serves up to 73 students, whereas the "Old Fortin Center" served 60. The new address for the Fortin Center is 110 Harrelle Drive, South Bay.
The "Old Fortin Center" building is now home to the Healthy Start Program under the leadership of Claudia Garrison. Her staff is centrally located in the same building and better equipped to handle one-on-one client services for the pregnant and new mothers/fathers served by the program. The staff is enjoying the space and looking forward to expansion of client services.
A new hire follows a promotion: Anna Rodriguez, a Palm Beach Community College (PBCC) student working on an Associates degree in business management, joined the staff at the Fortin Center on April 3 as Administrative Assistant. Rodriguez will assist center director Matilda Edwards. She replaces Patricia Longoria, who was promoted to become a Family Support Worker for the Healthy Families program.
Longoria worked with Edwards for two years as an assistant who managed administrative duties and helped run programs and events. Longoria attended the mandatory five-day Healthy Families Florida Core Training in Ocala May 5-9. The position called for someone who could speak Spanish and English and do a lot of translation. Longoria is well versed in both languages and has assisted other family support workers with translation to Hispanics families served by NOAH. The Healthy Families program provides prenatal and postnatal case management to families and includes weekly home visits.
A new baby: The Healthy Families program is happy to announce an addition to the family. Family Support worker Fernande Elisee delivered a 6 lb., 5 oz. baby boy named Jeremiah B. Francoeur on April 28. Mom and baby are doing well.
A new graduate: Tia Durham-Alexander, Healthy Families data specialist, graduated from PBCC on May 8 with an Associate in Arts degree. She plans to continue to pursue her Bachelor degree in the fall. She also received her State of Florida Notary Public Certificate effective through April 28, 2012.
William Fuller, NOAH’s Fiscal director, will be retiring from NOAH this summer after nine years of service.
Beth Kelly, Fiscal assistant, will be retiring from NOAH this summer after 14 years of service.
NOAH founding Board Member Dorothy Gilbert has been appointed as a Founding Member of the American Biographical Institute's International Women's Review Board.
Mark your calendars: NOAH Development Corporation’s Annual Board and Staff Retreat is scheduled for June 26 – 29 at the Delray Beach Marriott.