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Merline Barton is Miami’s Community Champion in the Southeastern 2010 Feeding Dreams Competition

Miami-Dade resident Merline Barton wins prestigious award

BY MEGAN TERILLI

Shantiana Perez, an original member of the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative’s Girls’ Group shows off her high school ring to Merline Barton at the the 2nd annual Family Fun Fest at Elizabeth Virrick Park on Friday, May 21. “Right now I am very proud because four of our girls who started in the girls group are in college today and even more have graduated high school,” said Merline. “That is just proof that we can break the cycle of poverty, of violence, and of hopelessness.”

When Merline Barton walks down Grand Avenue in West Coconut Grove she recalls a once vibrant urban neighborhood in which people would spend evenings in their suits and Sunday best, enjoying the local ambiance. She thinks of the time when the first African-Americans, Jamaicans, and people from all over the world made Coconut Grove the quirky, historic town it is today.

In 2010, residents of Miami and supporters throughout the country voted for Merline Barton, who was elected as one of the 10 Feeding Dreams champions competing for grant monies.

Read the entire article in GRANDAVENEWS.

Joshua’s Heart and TGHI Feed the Community

On Saturday, March 24th, 2012, Thelma Gibson Health Initiative (TGHI) collaborated with The Joshua’s Heart Foundation to hand out approximately 100 bags of groceries to families in the TGHI Youth Violence Prevention Program, funded by the Children’s Trust.

“It was a heartwarming event – just so beautiful to see,” said Merline Barton, TGHI co-founder and director.  Joshua’s Heart Foundation was founded by a five-year-old boy named Joshua.  His heart conceived a passion for assisting those who struggle daily to procure food for basic survival.  The main focus of his vision is to “Stomp Out Hunger.”

Follow Joshua’s story on www.joshuasheart.org

Mrs. Gibson Receives Legacy Award

Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson is Legacy magazine’s 2012 Black History Month Legacy Honoree.

The native Miamian has left her mark as a pioneer for black medical professionals in South Florida.  Gibson grew up and worked in an era when racism and segregation was the norm.  Despite those distractions, she was able to finish college and become a registered nurse.  Gibson continued taking advance course work in the medical field throughout the 1950s while still working. She has been a head nurse and supervisor at various health facilities in Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York.  She became a political leader and voice of the community when she was appointed an interim Commissioner on the Miami City Commission in 1997. In 2000, she became a published author with the release of her autobiography, Forbearance: Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson, The Life Story of A Cocoanut Grove Native.

Mrs. Gibson holds a number of titles and positions including President of the Theodore Roosevelt Gibson Memorial Fund Incorporated and founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Dade County.  She also sponsors the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative, which provides free testing and assistance for people infected with HIV or AIDS.

Taken from an article appearing the the Miami Herald on Sunday, February 5, 2012.

St. Stephen’s Provides T.R.U.E. Fund

Helping the residents of Coconut Grove through the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative

For over 26 years the members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church have been donating the second Sunday collection to the Coconut Grove Community.  These funds provide emergency assistance for utility bills, prescriptions, food, etc., to elderly or disabled residents of Coconut Grove – residents whose needs would otherwise fall through the cracks in our social services networks.

For all of those years, St. Stephen’s member Mrs. Ann Strickland has been the contact person for the Fund, of which she is a founding member.  On a visit to Mrs. Strickland’s house you are welcomed to a parlor decorated with angels from all over the world and a handshake from Peppy, Ann’s protective dog.

Thank you, Ann.  You are a true Angel.