Community

First Weekly Miami Shores Farmers Market Proves To Be A Hit With Community

What’s New With This Story: 

-The first weekly Miami Shores Farmers Market was deemed a success by the organizer.

-Over 1,000 people attended the four-hour event.

-Over 20 booths were filled with local vendors and businesses.

-The event organizer hopes to extend the hours of the market by three hours starting next week, although no official announcement has been made.

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The Miami Shores Farmers Market opened Sunday to strong community support, a sign that the village may be able to maintain a successful weekly open-air market for the long haul.

According to Claire Tomlin, the organizer of the market, the event drew more than 1,000 people to Optimist Park (NE 94th Street & NE 2nd Avenue) in Miami Shores.

Tomlin runs The Market Company, a South Florida based organization that runs 15 markets across South Florida.

Tomlin has had her eye on Miami Shores for over a decade.

Claire Tomlin, owner of The Market Company, the organization that runs the Miami Shores Farmers Market. Photo: RISE NEWS

She said at one point in the mid 2000s, she approached the Miami Shores Village Council for approval to start a market on NE 2nd Ave, but was turned down.

But she said that the new Village Council has been much more welcoming towards her ambitions.

“The town manager and the council are aware that the Village has changed and that young families want a place to come together,” Tomlin said. “The reception has been phenomenal. It’s been such a successful day.”

Over 20 different vendors had booths set up around Optimist Park, including those selling fresh fruits, vegetables, hot foods, soaps, jams, plants and flowers.

The Miami Shores Farmers Market will run each Sunday at the Miami Shores Optimist Park (at the corner of NE 94th St and NE 2nd Ave).

While the market is officially set to be open between 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM, Tomlin told RISE NEWS that she hopes to extend the hours to 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM for next week.

She also said that there would be live music next week.

Photos: Scenes from the first weekly Miami Shores Farmers Market. (Credit: The Market Company)

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After Irma, North Miami Turned To Hardy Refuge Of Bagel Bar East

The day after Hurricane Irma impacted South Florida was a blur for many in the region.

Houses were plunged into darkness, almost all street lights were off and many streets were left impassable.

But after a stressful week, many people needed to get out of their homes and feel a sense of normalcy.

That’s what Bagel Bar East (1990 NE 123rd St) specializes in.

On a typical day, Bagel Bar East is a local eatery that people go to find interesting characters in North Miami and traditional New York style fair.

But over the years, it has also become known for being open almost immediately after hurricanes.

People line up outside of Bagel Bar East in North Miami the day after Hurricane Irma struck the region and caused widespread damage.

The joint is owned by Steven Hochman, a Brooklyn native who has lived in South Florida for over 20 years.

He believes that the community needs his place to be open in times of stress.

And he takes that commitment to his customers seriously.

As Irma started to impact South Florida on September 9, Bagel Bar East remained open until conditions became too dangerous and it reopened at 6:30 AM on September 11, even before the curfew in Miami-Dade County was lifted at 7:00 AM.

” I do it for the community,” Hochman told RISE NEWS as he served food the day after Irma passed. “Everybody needs ice, water and food. People have been saying thank you all day.”

Few locals were surprised by this.

“They know Bagel Bar is going to be open,” Hochman said.

They have a generator that runs the lights and gas powers the cooking equipment.

Dozens of locals from all around Northern Miami-Dade County waited hours to be served.

Bacon, eggs and cheese sandwiches were the big sellers that day.

This isn’t the first time Bagel Bar East has served the community.

They were open soon after Hurricane Wilma hit the area in 2005 as well.

“As long as it’s safe, they are going to be open,” Tracey Heldenmuth a North Miami resident and Bagel Bar East regular said while cheerfully waiting in line. “Thank you Steve for pulling through.”

Thomas Alexander, a baker at Bagel Bar East and North Miami resident was proud of his work that day. He’s worked at the restaurant for over 20 years and understands what it means for the community.

“Without us, they won’t be eating,” Alexander said. “It makes me feel happy. I love to see people eat and be happy.”

While Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage across South Florida, it also exposed a level of human goodness.

It also taught some folks in Miami how important something as simple as a bagel can be in the face of crisis.

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Small Florida Town Comes Together To Clean Up Inactive Black Cemetery

Hobe Sound, FL is a sleepy town in Martin County where people work, play, and enjoy a quiet life.

But for over twenty years, the people of Hobe Sound lived alongside an important piece of history that they little about: an inactive cemetery hosting over twenty graves.

Down Kingsley Road, what’s informally known as Gomez Cemetery rests quietly alongside a small neighborhood.

The cemetery was part of the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, and resided in Hobe Sound in 1910 and closed in 1991.

Captain Lloyd Jones, a retired captain of the Martin County Sheriff’s Department, has a personal connection with the cemetery.

“My father, Isiah Jones, is interred in the cemetery, and as a boy, I grew up in the same church where he attended and my mother attended,” Jones said in an interview with RISE NEWS.

The church resided in Hobe Sound until it burned down in 1992, according to a Palm Beach Post article from that time.

The church itself relocated to Jacksonville afterwards, but the cemetery stayed.

“I think at that point in time, when the church services ceased, I think that began the time when the deterioration of the cemetery began,” Jones said.

A grave at Gomez Cemetery in Hobe Sound, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Boldenow

Black cemeteries have been historically subject to both the ravages of time and people, and Gomez Cemetery is no exception.

Photos dating back to 2007 show the graveyard surrounded by weeds and brambles, and registers display the various states of damage that some of the headstones and graves are in.

“There’s people out there,” Boldenow said. “You just don’t want to see them not have their proper respects.”

“It’s a really sad thing if you’re hearing this about other cemeteries around the country and around the state as well, but I don’t know if any of them have been in this type of disrepair,” Kevin Boldenow, a photographer who concentrates on disappearing Florida landmarks.

A local showed Boldenow Gomez Cemetery, and he took some pictures of the cemetery before an initial cleanup and posted them on social media to encourage people to become involved in Gomez Cemetery’s restoration.

Photo Credit: Allyn Farach

“There’s people out there,” Boldenow said. “You just don’t want to see them not have their proper respects.”

Regarding attempts to preserve the cemetery, Boldenow explained, “Cemeteries, they’re walking museums, they tell stories. If we let them go, if we neglect it like we have been, those stories disappear.” 

There is engagement in the restoration of the cemetery.

Pastor James Gibbons of the AME South Conference has also been involved in the cemetery’s renovation.

“There [is] other work that we also handle as conference trustees, entrusted by the Church to assert that all properties of the AME church is safeguarded and taken care of as much as possible,” Gibbons said in a phone interview.

Gomez Cemetery falls under the jurisdiction of the 11th District African Methodist Episcopal South Conference, which extends from Fort Pierce to Key West.

As a member of the Conference, Gibbons volunteered to be the coordinator of Gomez Cemetery’s cleanup.

Photo Credit: Kevin Boldenow

In Gibbons’ case, this involves working with local organizations like Keep Martin Beautiful and organizing the cleanup.

For the folks who have worked hard to cleanup the long forgotten cemetery, they do it out of duty as Rev. Patricia Wallace, vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the AME South Conference explained in a phone interview.

“We are happy to be working with Martin County and its other partners as we do the cleanup and restoration of the Gomez Cemetery property,” Wallace said. “We take pride in the work that we do on behalf of the AME church. It is our responsibility, it’s given to protect and take care of our properties, as entrusted into the hands of others on behalf of the AME church.”

Jones, the retired captain from the Martin County Sheriff’s Department vast connections around Martin County enabled him to help in the cemetery’s restoration.

There are ways that other people can help.

Call 782-781-1222 or email events@keepmartinbeautiful.org to find out how to help with the cleanup of Gomez Cemetery.

Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Boldenow

Soccer Activism: American Millennial Is Making A World Of Difference In South Africa

This article was originally published on risemiaminews.com on June 9, 2015.  

By Linzee Werkmeister

Sam Stokesberry has taken her love of children, God and soccer across the Atlantic to the Western Cape region of South Africa and channeled it into something truly inspiring.

In January of this year, Stokesberry packed her bags and moved 7,672 miles away to Stellenbosch, South Africa. She is currently working for a nonprofit organization called training4changeS, where they focus on using the sport of Futsal to build relationships with the local youth to make a difference in their lives. Futsal is typically played indoors on a hard court and features five players to a side.

The ages of the participants currently range between 5-7 years old, but it’s Stokesberry’s hope to journey with them as they get older. Stokesberry works with the children after school twice a week and every other Friday for futsal league games.

“Our program includes social impact lessons and games that focus on issues such as gender equality, using your voice, discrimination, drug abuse prevention, anti-racism, violence prevention, HIV prevention, teamwork, and making wise choices,” Stokesberry said. “Our goal is to incorporate social impact games into our Futsal practices so we can create a safe learning environment that will keep the kids off the streets and out of danger after school.”

Stokesberry grew up playing soccer in South Florida. She was good at it too and played club soccer while at the University of Central Florida. After graduating with a degree in Sports and Fitness, she worked for several private strength and conditioning facilities including Primal Fit Miami and the Fast Twitch Performance Training.

She also coached soccer at Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory at the high school level and at Doctors Charter School at both the high school and middle school level.

In 2012, Stokesberry first visited South Africa to attend a six-week International Sports Leadership Training Course hosted by the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and SCAS (Sport for Christ Action South Africa). She lived with a group of Americans who also attended the course, and then returned the following year as a co-leader. Stokesberry said that she knew then that South Africa would become her second home.

“When I first came to South Africa in 2012, I saw the great need there was in this country for change and empowerment especially amongst the youth. I also saw their passion and love for soccer which was something I could relate to,” Stokesberry said. “My heart broke when I heard about the obstacles that these kids were having to battle through, and I developed such a great love and compassion for them.”

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Sam Stokesberry watches a drill while working in South Africa as a soccer coach and mentor. Photo Credit: training4changeS

The following year in 2013 Stokesberry was given an opportunity to come back to the country and coach soccer.

“Being able to see the kids who were told that they would never amount to anything, become kids who now value their own lives and the lives of the next generation is a huge inspiration to me,” Stokesberry said. “They are setting a new standard and they are standing up against hate, indifference, and oppression. It’s been a huge blessing to witness the heart and life changes in these kids and amongst the South African coaches we hire on our staff. I am surrounded by some amazing overcomers and fighters each day I show up to work.”

Stokesberry currently works with six different primary schools in the Western Cape area, and each school is composed of a different demographic. The group, training4changeS promotes cultural diversity and a family-like atmosphere amongst the students and the staff which can be rare to find in South Africa because of deep standing racial tension.

In addition to working with training4changeS, Stokesberry is also partnering with Ambassadors in Football who work with juvenile inmates in Hope Academy within Drakenstein Prison, which is famously known for being where Nelson Mandela was held in the final years of his prison sentence.

The groups says that they focus on “Faith, Football, and Future” by maintaining a strict set of core values within the prison. They are a Christian organization who share the love and hope of Jesus through soccer, while also teaching the boys about character development and life skills.

Aside from her efforts through an athletic platform, Stokesberry works with STOP – Stop Trafficking Of People, which is an organization that fights against sex trafficking by raising awareness throughout Africa by hosting school presentations and outreaches for young people.

STOP is also in the process of establishing safe houses for human trafficking victims in the Western Cape area.

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Sam Stokesberry (C) is a soccer coach and mentor for young people in South Africa. Photo Credit: training4changeS

Back in 2012, at the FCA International Sports Leadership Training Course, Stokesberry made fast friends with Rencia Young, a South African who she now coaches alongside with for training4changeS.

“She’s a very passionate, loving and kind person. I adore her, her heart for people is pretty amazing,” Young said of Stokesberry. “She’s full of compassion and that’s what makes her so good in what she does, whether it’s coaching, handing out food to prostitutes or playing soccer with prisoners. I am learning a lot from her especially when it comes to compassion and love towards those who it’s difficult to love.”

Stokesberry said that growing up in South Florida helped prepare her for life in a diverse nation like South Africa.

“Miami is incredibly multicultural, and so is South Africa. But a huge difference is the amount of racism that takes place in this country,” Stokesberry said. “In Miami, I grew up in school surrounded by different languages and cultures and skin colors, but we were all equal and valuable. Women are also discriminated against when it comes to sports, so the young girls who are interested in playing lack the female role models and leaders to look up to in the industry. It’s a lot harder for a girl to succeed in sports than it is for a man in this country. For women, the opportunities just aren’t there…yet.”

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Cover Photo Credit:  training4changeS/Submitted

This article was originally published on risemiaminews.com.

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