MIAMI GARDENS — The late Bishop Isaiah S. Williams Jr., founder of Jesus People Ministries Church International, Inc. (JPMCI), had a vision to save young people from troubled lives.
Described by his wife, Dr. Gloria Y. Williams, as “a man with a heart for our youth who wanted to do something to intervene,” the bishop’s dream to construct the Isaiah S. Williams Jr. Development, known as the JPM Centre Affordable Housing Project and JPM Enrichment Centre, has come to fruition.
The center will help protect young people from the criminal justice system, and train them to become productive citizens.
The approximately $20 million development’s groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 15 at JPMCI, 4055 NW 183 St. in Miami Gardens.
The ceremony, on the couple’s wedding anniversary date, included a street dedication. Northwest 42 Ave./LeJeune Rd. from 167 St. on the south to 199 St. on the north in Miami Gardens, was officially renamed Bishop Isaiah Williams Jr. Blvd.
“Naming the street is an honor,” Miami Gardens Councilman Oliver G. Gilbert III said. “And the groundbreaking, a representation of his life, works and deeds, will live on for generations.”
Williams died in July 2009.
Gloria Williams now serves as JPMCI’s senior pastor and president of the Justice, Potential and Motivation Centre (JPM).
Five buildings are planned for the vacant 12-acre property owned by JPM that sits on the east side of JMPCI, according to Gloria Williams.
The first phase of the construction, the Affordable Housing Project, is slated to begin during the third quarter of this year, according to Roxanne Sullivan, a representative of JPMCI. The completion date for the $5.3 million building has not yet been determined.
The new JPM Centre at Miami Gardens Drive will provide the community with services including job training, education and fine arts programs, sports and recreation.
In partnership with Miami-Dade County, Gloria Williams said, housing for the working elderly, adolescents in transition and
at-risk youth will also be constructed.
“This will provide a safe place for seniors to live out the rest of their years as well as help the kids who age out of the foster care system,” she said.
JPM will also house the Neighborhood Accountability Board (NAB), a three-month program designed to assist at-risk teens.
“We get them off the street and keep them from having juvenile records,” Gloria Williams said.
NAB, in its 12th year, currently uses space in another facility, she said.
The program is the brainchild of Bishop Williams.
About 22 young people, ages 13 to 18, enroll in the year-round program each time, according to Gloria Williams.
If a child has committed a misdemeanor, she said, they would “otherwise be on their way into the system. But by going through this program, which is county- and court-related, they will not have a record. It has been successful.”
Young people, she continued, do not have to have an arrest record to register for the program.
“They may be getting into trouble or are close to being arrested,” she said.
Many times, she said, “they don’t get arrested because some of the [Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens] police officers and DJJ [Department of Juvenile Justice] who know of the program will bring them right over to us.”
After graduating from the program, Williams said, each participant must go before a neighborhood board so they can be accountable for their actions.
“We help them through the courts to keep them out of the justice system,” she said. “It’s only then that they’ll know who they are and their true worth in society.”
NAB serves young people throughout Miami-Dade County.
Of Bishop Williams, Gloria Williams said: “He created the program because he loved children and wanted to give a blessing. So he invested in their lives.”
Photo by Khary Bruyning. Dr. Gloria Y. Williams