Hundreds of Liberty City students benefit at Chief Press Foundation event while bringing attention to continuing community education needs
As WPLG Channel 10 Anchor, Louis Aguirre, interviewed Police Chief Press at Charles Drew Elementary School in Liberty City on August 10 during the Sixth Annual Back to School Summer Jam sponsored by the Sister City Initiative of Key Biscayne and Miami Children’s Initiative, he was dreaming bigger.
“We want to spread the message to other affluent communities like Bal Harbour, and Miami Beach, to reinvest locally in Liberty City, a community that 25 years ago was on fire…the message needs to get out,” said KBPD Chief Charles Press.
The call was well received last Saturday as hundreds of area kids and their families showed up to spend the day enjoying games outdoors, a lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers (including a veggie burger option), morning and afternoon screenings of local documentary “The Bridge” from Brother Soul Films, complimentary cosmetology sessions, and health screenings.
“Kids are running up and giving me hugs and I can’t wipe the smile off my face,” Chief Press told Islander News.
The Chief Press Foundation to support Liberty City began 15 years ago but has grown substantially since 2013. Then Key Biscayne Mayor Frank Caplan embraced the Sister City Initiative efforts with a Village Council resolution. It is now a part of the KB Community Foundation’s core charitable causes led by Melissa White.
“Fifteen years ago we started handing out a few turkeys and now here we are helping 300 to 500 students.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone to the community since the Sister City Initiative began six years ago thanks to a beautiful place called Key Biscayne that has been so generous,” said Press.
He estimated that for the day’s event which included supporting students as each received uniforms-two shirts, two pants or skirts, shoes-and school supplies like notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters and individual items based on teacher input, according to Miami Children’s Initiative’s (MCI) CEO LaTousha Daniels; about a $25 to $30,000 investment was realized.
“We are so happy to be a part of what changes the lives of our children and remove obstacles within this urban core called Liberty City,” said Daniels.
“The wonderful Sister City partnership with Chief Press and his foundation has been a true godsend to this community. It’s not about anything else but touching and changing the lives of these children and for that we are happy to be able to continue to do this work.”
MCI is now in its tenth year of providing programs after school at Charles Drew K-8 and Miami Northwestern High School.
“Students have somewhere safe to go after school to continue their education. There are performance level activities in learning centers that provide a cradle to college career pattern in partnership with the school system,” she said.
Health and Wellness education was also a part of the day. Representatives from the Department of Health’s Healthy Homes Program were on site to share information with families and offer kids health screenings such as checking for high lead levels.
“Lead poisoning is a silent disease and reportable because of the dangers and health risks” said environmental specialist for the Department of Health, Alexandra Aguilar.
Although lead was banned in 1978 it can still be found in paint, some toys and jewelry from China, bullets, and bullet casings.
High levels are considered to be five micrograms or over and can cause behavioral problems, insomnia, low hemoglobin, loss of appetite, and anemia. It is initially treated with dietary supplements according to Healthy Homes Programs’ Judith Abotse.
Bridging the “digital divide” is another primary objective of the Back to School Summer Jam sponsors.
The digital divide is a term that represents the uneven distribution of informational technology resources in lesser served communities separated by economic or geopolitical differences.
“We are in desperate need of upgrading the equipment in our computer labs at the community center,” said Daniels.
The digital divide is real. We were provided small tablets for registration but for each child to have access to a tablet or computer would be a dream for us.”
Want to help out?
Wish list items from MCI and Chief Press Foundation (contact one or both groups to give) requested for students this fall:
- A laptop computer cart so that children can do inquiry and investigational research, play academic games and learn how to keyboard properly. The older children would be able to learn to code.
- Educational software
- Sets of classroom tablets to allow children to have access to educational apps and learn how to use technology for learning.
- Lego Robotics Kits
- Microscopes, experiment sets and drone kits
- Classroom books for libraries
- T-shirts for classroom trips
- Admission costs for local museums and landmark places of interest, plays, and other live theatrical productions.
- Dry erase markers, markers, and arts and craft materials
- Classroom pencil sharpeners
- Musical instruments (for our young learners: recorders, clarinets, percussion)
- Items to continue our growing gardens (seeds, plants, pots, mulch, soil, watering cans, shovels, rakes)
- Animal shows (to educate about endangered wildlife)
Save the Date: On October 20 at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami beginning at 5pm, MCI will be holding its inaugural fundraiser gala: “Heroes of the City” is the culmination of a weekend of events to support the not for profit 501c3 organization.
Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press will be among the honorees recognized for their community advocacy.
For more information visit or call MCI at 786.488.5512.