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Following a year of headlines highlighting the continued struggle for equality and justice, the Homestead and Florida City Communities united to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community activists, students, distinguished dignitaries, and many other community members gathered for the traditional breakfast celebration at the Phichol Williams Community Center.
Vice Mayor Patricia Fairclough served as Master of Ceremonies at this year’s event, themed “Renewing the Dream & Recommitting to Peace” as a nod to efforts that seek to unite communities, governments, and other leaders for a brighter future. Pastor Brock Shiffer of Speedway Community Ministries opened the breakfast, sponsored by The Palace Gardens, with a humorous and heartfelt invocation. Then, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace gave brief remarks reminding attendees of the true spirit of the annual breakfast.
As attendees mingled and ate, students from the Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts sang beautiful renditions of traditional gospel songs. Additional students from the Conservatory performed an inspired dance showcase later in the event.
Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools Alberto M. Carvalho headlined the event as Keynote Speaker. His impassioned speech was a call to action for community members and community leaders alike. While highlighting some of the impressive accomplishments of MDCPS he also pointed to a number of tragic student deaths over the past two years as a reminder that there is still much work to be done to ensure a brighter future for our children.
The program also included several special honors. Homestead Police Officer Robbie Lee Tate is the 2017 Education/Mentoring Honoree. In April 2010 Officer Tate was assigned to the Community Policing Unit and soon made a name for himself as an outgoing and conscientious member of the force. Soon thereafter, Officer Tate became a mentor with the Homestead Police Explorer Program, garnering statewide recognition for the program. Now, he is part of the Police Athletic League program where he helps children and teens focus on doing the right thing through a recreational and educational outlet.
The Palace Gardens is the 2017 Business Honoree in recognition of their 35 years of service to South Florida. For decades, The Palace Gardens has been a fixture in Homestead—employing over one thousand people, serving thousands of families, and consistently contributing to community events. Recently, the Palace Gardens moved to a brand new location directly across from Homestead Hospital.
The Faith Based Honoree for 2017 is Pastor Michael Anthony Stiles. He is the Senior Pastor at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and boasts many commendations and awards from his various community works. Pastor Stiles currently holds the office of Co-Chairman for the City of Homestead Southwest Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Homestead/Florida City Hallelujah Nights Community Event, and Advisory Board member of South Dade Ministerial Alliance of Homestead/Florida City and Pastors Unity Gathering in Homestead.