RITES OF PASSAGE: Urgent Inc. recently celebrated its youth and elders with its annual Community Celebration and Recognition Ceremony.


Staff Report

MIAMI – Heavy rains did not stop approximately one hundred people from packing the Overtown Performing Arts Center on May 26 to participate in Urgent Inc.’s annual Community Celebration and Recognition Ceremony. With the theme of love and celebration, high school students who are members of URGENT, Inc.’s. Rites of Passage Media Project and F.A.C.E. (Film, Arts, Coding and Entrepreneurship) programs for a year, and grandparents in the Intergenerational Project were regaled during the ceremony, that included music, dance and revelry by Delou Africa. The ceremony opened with a rites of passage procession with Elder Emily Gunter leading the way.

“The Community Celebration and Recognition Ceremony is a proud moment for our youth and grandparents. They are jewels in our program, and the backbone of our community. We are pleased to acknowledge their year-round accomplishments and efforts with song, dance and reward,” said Shedia Nelson, Urgent Inc’s program manager. Author and motivational speaker, Octavia Yearwood, gave the keynote address. Yearwood shared that the Spanish word prepárate, which translates to “prepare yourself,” set into motion her journey of transformation.

“Every moment we’re in a state of preparation and every lesson you learn are answers to what you already know. It’s a chance to tap into your super self. I came to understand the true meaning of love. I fell in love with myself first and then expanded it,” Yearwood said as she encouraged the audience to find the word that inspires change.

Through its programming, URGENT, Inc. guides youth who live in Overtown, Brownsville, Liberty City, Little Haiti and Goulds to become the next generation of social change agents. The school year internship program exposes young people to the world of work and careers aligned with Miami-Dade County’s One Community, One Goal.

Recently, teens in the program were introduced to their new Multimedia Makerspace gifted by Miami Roots, a cohort of Leadership Miami professionals selected by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Teens visited the new media space complete with pop-up photo studio, podcast station, a set of 3D printers, Mac computers and other film equipment.

Urgent, Inc. president Henry Crespo offered final words of wisdom referencing a story from musical great Quincy Jones. “Mr. Jones compared the artist of his time with musicians of today stating his colleagues in the industry understood the symphony.” He challenged the honorees to “apply that to your life. Look into your life and find your symphony. Find your pure intention, make a move and watch the community shift around you in a great way. When your intentions are pure, the nature of where you’re living today will be impacted.”

The Children’s Trust, Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council and the Miami Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners sponsored the event.