For the homeless, shelter is found in cardboard boxes and abandoned buildings. Meals are scraped from late-night rummaging through restaurant Dumpsters. The summer heat feels twice as hot and the hunger pangs are the only constant company. According to the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, there are more than 4000 beds at area shelters. Still hundreds of people live in the streets, mostly men. Many camp along NE 2nd Avenue near the Miami Arena. Others live in parks, under causeways, in alleys.
Partymongers pass them on their way to Club Space or the dens of debauchery in downtown Miami's 24-hour entertainment district. Suburban moms steer their baby carriages around shabby panhandlers while strolling down Lincoln Road. But like a wild-eyed window washer determined to wipe a windshield at a downtown highway on-ramp, the homeless cannot be ignored.
Though shelter and food are top priorities, clothing -- especially pants -- is in great need.
The Community Partnership for Homeless of Miami-Dade County is in the midst of a drive to collect new or slightly used men's pants. As the men leave the partnership's two centers to establish new lives, such basics are desperately needed, says Sharon Haxton, the partnership's office manager. Sizes that are most desired are 36-inch to 42-inch waists. Also necessary are shorts, T-shirts, and undergarments.
Donations could make a difference to many men. So if you've outgrown those D&G gabardine trousers, instead of holding on to them, pass them on to someone who could really use them. Of course labels don't really matter. But the more couture that is collected, the better the city looks.
To donate garments, call the partnership's hotline at 305-329-3030 or drop them off at 1550 N. Miami Ave., and 28205 SW 125th Ave., Homestead. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Black women of the world (or at least of South Florida), hold your heads up high! That's what the local organizations known as Uhuru Inc., Khemit Konnections, the Black Vegetarian Society, and Yabba Pot (Youth Are Building a Better Afrikan People of Togetherness) would like you to do. Their 5th annual Afrikan Women's Week is all about highlighting strength, inner beauty, intelligence, and ingenuity. The ultimate goal, says program director Nadine Djingha, is to foster "unity, empowerment, and education." Beginning the festivities: Reclaiming Our Health: A Day of Fasting and Meditation at 7:00 a.m. in Broward at the beach on Sunrise Boulevard and A1A. The event then moves to Fort Lauderdale's Delevoe Park (2520 NW 6th St.) until 4:30 p.m. From 3:00 to 10:00 p.m. dancing, drumming, and spoken word will take place at Shades of Africa (1117 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach). And from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m., films will screen in AC II, room 110, at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus (3000 NE 151st St.). Throughout the week, expect more films, lectures, and workshops, culminating in a holistic healing expo. Admission varies. See www.modeafrika.com for details. -- By Nina Korman
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Festival unleashes spirited play
Even though your girlfriend is no Julie Andrews, she should sing her heart out on the city streets. Support her as she does her best Maria crooning an off-key and discordant "The hills are alive...." The fact that she can't sing doesn't really matter during Fete de la Musique, the annual global music celebration, which began in Paris in 1982. The French Ministry of Culture initiated the celebration of music as a way of breaking cultural and political boundaries by supporting all musical artists, despite their level (or lack) of talent. Fete de la Musique is about the spirit of song. And though there will be several fetes going on this weekend, the people at the Alliance Française are hosting their own celebration with a lineup of pianists, singers, guitarists, and conga players. It begins at 5:00 p.m. at the Alliance Française, 1414 Coral Way. Admission is free. Call 305-859-8760. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Two days before the very first day of summer, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz wants you to "come out and feel the rhythm of our parks." We don't know exactly where the mayor has been hanging out because lately the only thing making the trees vibrate is the hot air produced by politicians -- and that's nothing we'd remotely compare to a refreshing breeze. But as always, the ingenious Diaz has a plan. For the second year in a row, he's kicking off the weekly Summer in the City Music Series, consisting of 10 concerts at various parks all over Miami. The idea is to highlight local talent, show off the city's facilities, and raise awareness in folks about the resources they have right outside their door. The inaugural show includes timba artist Carlos Manuel (above) and begins at 6:00 p.m. at Clemente Park, 101 NW 34th St. Admission is free. Call 305-642-1271. -- By Nina Korman