linda-johnson.jpgSummer in the city of Miami is not complete without the annual Things Are Cooking in Overtown gala fundraiser. The board of directors of the St. John Community Development Corp., led by Nelson Adams III, M.D., chairman, and Ola O. Aluko, president, hosted yet another delightful event to benefit the Overtown community. Approximately 300 guests descended upon Watson Island on Aug. 23 to enjoy a festive affair at Jungle Island’s Treetop Ballroom, which was adorned with elegant purple-and-white orchids. Edwin Demeritte, gala chairman, orchestrated the 14th annual soiree, and Rodney Baltimore, executive producer of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, served as the gracious emcee. Several community servants and organizations were honored for notable contributions and achievement: the Rev. Johnny Barber, Susan Kelly Dragone, Shirlene Jackson, the Booker T. Washington High School 2013 Tornadoes and the Miami-Dade Neighborhood Stabilization Program Consortium. Guests enjoyed dinner, danced the night away to the soulful sounds of the L-Tribe Band and socialized with friends amid a joyous atmosphere. Many Miami natives and locals were seen on the scene, including  Effie Adams, Bishop James L. Adams, Eugene S. Adkins, Corey B. Collins, Franklin and Lola Clark, Betty Clayton, Delores Davis-Hills, Martha Day, Walter Dennis, Cecil Duffie, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Rosa Green, Grace Humphrey, Homer Humphrey, Doris P. Isaac, Fareed Khan, Garfield Miller, Will Miller, Mitzi D. Parlor, N. Patrick Range, Damen Scott, Darryl Spence, T’ran Studwell, LeHondra Swain, the Rev. John H. Taylor, Ulysses Terry, Eugene Walker, Andrew Wilcox and Mary Louise Williams.  Mark your calendar for the 15th annual presentation — an affair not to be missed!

Dynamic businesswoman and motivator Monique Dennis Spence presented a one-of-a-kind event for female entrepreneurs, and others pursuing various life-visions, on Aug. 24 at the Courtyard Marriott in Coral Gables. More than 50 of South Florida’s purpose driven ladies participated in the first Elevate Summit, a daylong retreat for learning, networking, connecting and committing.  On center stage, spurring the ladies on to greatness, were Stacey Boegem, founder of The Happiness Agenda, and Spence, founder of Positive Light Media.  Misha Kurla-Gomez, of the popular Misha’s Cupcakes, was awarded the Elevation Award for outstanding achievement. Attendees also enjoyed lunch and a panel discussion featuring Sharonda Butler, Amy Deupi, Dr. Natasha Smith and Stephanie Castaner. Others seen on the scene included Tori Anderson, Elizabeth Butler, Christina McKinnon, Jessica Pineda, Tracy Seaton, Sharolyn Turner and Lillith Warwick.

Devoted members of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association hosted their annual spirited RattlerQue at Oleta State Park in North Miami Beach on Aug. 17. The Rattlers, in their usual progressive manner, used the occasion as a sendoff of South Florida freshmen headed up to Tallahassee to matriculate at their beloved alma mater. Not only did the alumni share their school pride with the enthusiastic neophytes, they also awarded scholarships to four outstanding students: Kishanda Burns, Veyondra Christmas, Josephine Gelin and Alexandria Williams.  Several alumni donated funds toward the scholarships, and special commendations go to Gloria Barry, Alandrai Davis, Dr. Carrie Keys, Adrian Freeman, Bertika Quintero and Cassandra Theramene for their generous contributions. Also seen on the scene were  Amy Dawkins, Lataryn Gay, Verna Edington, Dante Fillyau, Marilyn Montes-Gelin, Carrie Keys, Jennifer Longino, Baljean and Naomi Smith, Shilesa Chandler and Romania Wilson, chapter president.

Linda J. Johnson, a Miami native, is a veteran educator with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, a certified etiquette consultant, who also serves on nonprofit boards in the community. She can be reached at