Thursday, May 30, 2013

Florida Legislature Playing Games with Health Care

The Florida legislature is at it again.

Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, lawmakers in Tallahassee have been determined to make the worst of the new health care policy. Not only have they refused to accept billions of dollars in federal money to expand health care coverage to one million people, but now they are attempting to further deregulate health insurance.

SB 1842, which awaits Gov. Scott's approval, would block the Office of Insurance Regulation from reviewing and potentially rejecting rate increases proposed by insurance companies in the years 2014 and 2015. 

Miami-Dade residents traveled to Tallahassee in
April to advocate for better health care in Florida.
A Tampa Bay Times editorial points out that this bill has more sinister intentions that to simply tinker with state policies, saying, "Its transparent intent is to infuriate Floridians over increases in health insurance costs and misdirect their anger toward the federal law."  

Florida CHAIN breaks down exactly how the bill would create problems for consumers while pointing the finger at ObamaCare. This kind of childish politicking hurts Floridians and is an unacceptable way for elected officials to behave. Gov. Scott was on the right track when he finally embraced Medicaid expansion in February; hopefully he can put a stop to this nonsense by vetoing SB 1842.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Allies Celebrate Overtown's History and Future

Each year the members of Public Allies Miami develop Team Service Projects (TSPs) in order to complete their year of service. These TSPs are an opportunity for the Allies to learn about a particular community within Miami and strategize ways they can help strengthen that community. This post was contributed by the Overtown TSP group as a reflection on their project and an invitation to join them in celebrating the neighborhood of Overtown.

“TOWNERS…” The familiar call echoes through the streets of Overtown. Its easy to get distracted when you come into this Miami neighborhood. The celebrated memories of Overtown’s glory days cover the community like a comforting childhood blanket. Miami’s first black neighborhood at its prime boomed with businesses, night clubs, houses and, more importantly, a self-sustaining, proud group of people. Overtown has been plagued with many a hardships. Vacant lots, old buildings, and a community tired of empty promises sold to them by outsiders claiming good intentions. In fact, one cannot speak of Overtown without acknowledging the tormenting media headlines that shine a dim light on the community. Yet through it all the Towners remain hopeful. Resilient, they take each new day as an opportunity for their community to once again enter into its glory days. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Partner Testimonial: The Key Clubhouse of South Florida

"Key Clubhouse of South Florida is a small nonprofit organization that started a Clubhouse program in 2010 for adults who have serious mental illnesses. Catalyst Miami has been a great resource for us from our very first days. We’ve participated in the Public Allies program and ended up hiring the remarkable young man who was our Public Ally. We receive discounted access to the Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory, something which we could never afford on our own. Our board and Clubhouse members have attended Catalyst sponsored workshops on marketing and fund raising, as well as the recent seminar series called Harvest Democracy, which culminated in our participation in a tri-county Town Hall Meeting. All of this support from Catalyst has made our organization stronger and more resilient.”
 Amy McClellan, Board President, The Key Clubhouse of South Florida
Collaboration is KEY. Your story makes our work worthwhile.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dancing to Tallahassee to Expand Healthcare in Florida

Written by Kamalah Fletcher, Community Prosperity Director
Catalyst Miami’s delegation to Tallahassee is back and red-eyed from a long journey. This was not your regular trip. This was a trip with a family of people working together to create opportunities for advocacy. There is a novel’s worth of information and stories to be told. Countless moments of laughter and unforgettable memories that make this trip stand apart as one of the fond ways our organization “keeps it Catalyst”  even when travelling to meet with our legislators at our state’s capitol hill.
Every human being we came into contact with gave us a “thumbs up” when we shared that we’d travelled on a bus from Miami to Tallahassee in order to make our voices heard on the issues surrounding Medicaid Expansion and comprehensive healthcare reform. We were joined by people unafraid to take risks, advocate on behalf of the one million Floridians who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, and learn from legislators themselves about the issues at hand during the 2013 legislative session. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

AmeriCorps VISTA and Housing Services Create Community Buzz

written by Ryan Adams, AmeriCorps VISTA at Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida
Reflections from Let's Invest for Tomorrow held April 27, 2013
The first Let’s Invest for Tomorrow event at Charles Hadley Park sponsored by Wells Fargo was a stunning success. The weeks leading up to the event were hectic, but the hard work paid off. Marketing was carried out through social networking sites (Facebook and Twitter), local papers (The Miami Times, The Miami Herald, and the South Florida Times), and by making phone calls.  The community building department at Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) was very active. Various neighborhood association meetings and events were attended to create a buzz in the community. With the leadership of Neighborhood Housing Services and the Neighborhood Revitalization Collaborative, we made a difference in the community of Liberty City on April 27, 2013.
Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, The NeighborhoodRevitalization Collaborative and other nonprofit organizations were on hand from 11AM to 2PM offering their services and sharing information about programs that focused on housing. Participating organizations were as follows:
Wells Fargo, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, The Haitian American    CDC, The Miami Coalition for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, The Liberty City Economic Development Corporation, St. John CDC,  The Urban League of Greater Miami, 411 Veterans, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., and The Belafonte TACOLCY Center.
Approximately 190 residents attended the event and there was plenty of fun for everyone, including the kids. Children jumped around for hours in the bounce house and Home Depot conducted a kid’s workshop. Habitat for Humanity taught six residents how to construct pallet gardens. Now, Charles Hadley Park has pallet gardens.  
A DJ played music throughout the event and collaborating organizations gave away prizes in a raffle. Pedi’s Pastries, Blessed Catering, and Louis Famous Foods provided great food. The phones at NHSSF are still ringing from residents who did not get a chance to make it to the event. Residents want the services that we provide and NHSSF is here to provide them.
Yesterday, a lady named Rosella Davis gave me a call. She explained that she could not attend the event this past Saturday, but needed assistance with home repairs. Her roof is getting ready to collapse. I explained that NHSSF does not offer home repairs. After discussion with Jackie Duran, the director of Home Ownership Promotion, she directed me to Mikal Hamin. He is a homeownership counselor at NHSSF. Through his research, we found a single family housing program with the City of Miami at the Department of Community and Economic Development. The program provides eligible residents with up to $35,000 for home rehabilitation.
Mikal and I gave Mrs. Davis a call yesterday evening to tell her the good news. She was very happy. This morning I dropped off the application to her home. That is what we do to make a difference in the community. We equip residents with the knowledge that they need to create and maintain healthier communities.
Let’s Invest for Tomorrow (Liberty City) was only the beginning of our efforts. We are still feeling the residual effects and making a difference in the lives of residents, like Mrs. Davis.
The next two events will be sponsored by Wells Fargo in the communities of Buena Vista West and Wynwood. The Buena Vista event will take place on June 8, 2013 from 10AM-1PM at Buena Vista Park. The Wynwood event will occur on June 22, 2013 from 11AM-2PM at Roberto Clemente Park. Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida and the Neighborhood Revitalization Collaborative are looking forward to continuing to make a difference in the community and promoting homeownership.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Oxfam Shares Voices on US Poverty

Nearly one-third of Americans live in or near poverty and struggle each day to make ends meet on incomes that are fare far below a livable wage. This problem has exacerbated to an all-time high in the last two generations, leaving 100 million Americans questioning the security of their financial future.
Since graduating into the adult world, Aaron Capurro has lived among millions others in poverty. At 28-years of age, Aaron has wavered on the edge of financial insecurity holding various odd-jobs doing maintenance work, mowing lawns, and landscaping. He also receives a social security check each month to help make ends meet. In total, Capurro earns $800 per month where he allocates $400 to pay for rent, $100 to cover utilities, and $200 to take care of additional expenses. He’s left with little to no savings at the end.
His story is one of many being shared through Oxfam’s “Voices of US Poverty” project— an effort to stimulate dialogue and give a face to poverty in the United States.
“America has long presented itself to the world as the model of successful, inclusive growth that lifts millions into the middle class,” explains Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam. “While that was true during the decades after World War II, it is simply no longer the case.”
People are living on the brink of financial disaster with almost no savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss, health crisis or other income-depleting emergency. This reality is certainly the case for people living in our own backyards.
In this year’s report released by the Corporation forEnterprise Development (CFED), Florida is ranked 47th in the country for the ability of residents to achieve financial security. In addition, Florida ranks 51st and 48th overall when considering the housing cost burden on renters and homeowners, respectively. People worry about their today as much as their tomorrow. In this state and all across the country, people are facing financial challenges that are both devastating and indicative of uncertain strides toward improvement. Offenheiser argues,
"A government’s budget, like all public policy, should not only reflect our values, but be means to an end. Fiscal policies — public spending and taxes — should focus on investments in broadly shared prosperity. That is why Oxfam — which already has on-the-ground programs with farmworkers and in poor, coastal areas — is becoming more deeply involved in addressing poverty, the working poor, low wage jobs and inequality at the national level."
As Oxfam documents the voices of Americans in poverty stories, we stop to ask how we can shift the paradigm not only to fight for the preservation our middle-class, but also to provide the best safety net for those making barely or not enough to sustain their own means of living.

What's your story? Let us know by commenting below and share your voice at

Also, check out...
"FL Unemployment Rate Isn't the Whole Story"

"U.S. Poverty: By the Numbers"

Friday, May 3, 2013

"The Story We Never Told"

Contributed by Afrolatinos: The Untaught Story

View Video Here

In Latin American there is an estimated 150 million people of African descent. Of that population, 92% live in extreme poverty and 70% are women and children.

Afrolatinos: The Untaught Story is a documentary television series independently produced by Creador Pictures, LLC. Afrolatinos is a seven part series in English and Spanish that shows the rich culture and shares the contributions of the enslaved Africans who arrived to the Caribbean, Central and South America. This history is often omitted when talking about these regions of the world. Our mission is to teach the uninformed and initiate social change throughout Latin America while sharing an important part of our history we hope never to be forgotten.

We are inviting you to Un Llamado y Respuesta! A Call and Response! This is a call to you, nuestra comunidad, for help in bringing these stories, nuestra historia, to the world! With your contribution we will be able to continue to put the blood, sweat, and tears into the last legs of production for the film. In addition, we’ve also started an Afrolatinos: The Untaught Story petition to get 100,000 signatures to show major networks that people want and need to hear this story.