Miami-Dade resident Merline Barton wins prestigious award
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.