The Town Park Village (TPV) in Overtown received a community facelift on Saturday, April 17.

Approximately 100 residents and supporters joined elected officials Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and Leadership Miami Team 2 of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

They were there to celebrate the grand reopening of the Youth Resource Center in the residential complex located on N.W. 4th Avenue and 16th Street.

Leadership Miami is the chamber’s annual leadership program that grooms local leaders through mentorship, seminars and community involvement.  This year’s group, D2D, adopted the 170 unit co-op in December to refurbish the youth center and install a security system to monitor the facility that was originally built in the early 1970s. Many of its residents have lived there for at least 30 years.

D2D representative Michael Hughes told the South Florida Times that nearly $100,000 was raised in cash and donations to complete the two projects.

“Our team was put in touch with the folks at Town Park Village, and we learned that the Youth Resource Center and the security system were two projects that the residents needed some help with,” Hughes said. “We were able to completely redo the resource center, which previously had been underutilized, and also to get the camera system in place."

According to D2D representative Kevin Vance, the Youth Resource Center, which was formerly a residential unit, had only been utilized one evening a week, mostly because it lacked educational equipment. The refurbishment included painting, electrical upgrades and phone capabilities. The center also got a new music room with pianos and guitars, a small library, new computers, a flat screen TV and other equipment.

D2D also obtained volunteers from the medical community to do free health screenings for the TPV residents during the event.

“D2D felt that the health screenings were extremely important for a community with an average income of approximately $12,000 per year,” Vance said. “Not many
citizens of this community have access to health care services. The health screenings were primarily for the senior citizens at TPV, with whom we had closely worked on the security camera portion of the project.”

Vance said it was important to complete the youth center and the security system simultaneously. TPV’s senior citizen population was increasingly concerned about trespassers, drug-related activity and other crimes in close proximity to the complex.

A residential task force was formed in the early part of 2009 to work directly with the Human Services Coalition to begin the fundraising process for the installation of 10 security lights. 

“Community service is an integral part of the Leadership Miami program, and our team learned that there was work to do at TPV,” Vance said.

He continued: “Many similar complexes have security camera systems, but TPV did not. The senior community at Town Park Village had already raised [$10,000 in] funds to install a security lighting system, and the security camera system was the second phase of their plan. D2D was able to raise the funds and locate a vendor to install the camera system.”

As the associate director for development at the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, Hughes had previously coordinated fundraising events such as silent auctions, a revenue generator that he also used for TPV.

He said what began as a business group volunteer project quickly turned into a personal, human story for D2D as organizers began working with the eager

“The residents of Town Park Village were enthusiastic from day one; after meeting with the TPV senior group and the young people, we really wanted to help them satisfying their goals,” said Hughes. “This translated into an equally enthusiastic response from the community at-large and we are thrilled with the fundraising results.”

TPV resident Carrie Gordon said she was very pleased with the modifications that took place in her community. Gordon, 83, is an active member of the senior task force and said it was a pleasure working along with Leadership Miami.

“I just try to work along with people who believe in doing the right thing. I thought the event on Saturday was beautiful and I truly enjoyed it,” Gordon said.

Hughes said working on the TPV changed his overall perception of the community.

“Coming to know the people in TPV and these residents of Overtown was a new experience for many of us,” Hughes said.

“The people at TPV are as motivated as any other community…association in Miami-Dade. I have no doubt that what they needed in terms of investment for this project would have eventually been raised by them alone, however, we are all pleased that D2D/Leadership Miami was able to be a part of this.”

Gordon said she hopes that the youth will respect their new center.

“I went in and toured the Youth Center and thought it was very nice. We just have to make sure we teach the children how to go in there and do positive things; not tear it up,” she said.