Imagining More

Make something happen. That’s our goal. Rural Neighborhoods wants to make a remarkable difference in the lives of working families. There’s much we’ve accomplished since our resurgence in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew — but we imagine doing more. Here are just a few places our imagination (and hard work) takes us in the next year.

2013 — Steven Mainster Youth Enrichment Center

Hammers crack the Everglades Village morning quiet this summer as our newest after-school building emerges from its base. This fall within its walls teachers from Centro Campesino will tutor local children and adolescents in reading, math and science skills. This space — imagined just a few years ago — will soon be real. It is dedicated to a true dreamer.

Centro Campesino co-founder Steven Mainster’s unwavering advocacy to give Everglades Labor Camp residents a voice in their neighborhood helped lead to the creation of Everglades Community Association in 1982. His relentless effort in the weeks after Hurricane Andrew resulted in our charitable group’s 1992 lead role in labor camp rebuilding. For 40 years, he has built homes, trained workers and educated farmworker children. Rural Neighborhoods is pleased to honor his lifetime achievements.

Pollywog Creek Senior Housing

Elderly Labelle residents will call Pollywog Creek Senior Housing home in 2014 as our HUD 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly opens its doors to residents. It’s the next step in our planned Pollywog Creek Commons intergenerational neighborhood. Built around a ‘commons’ a tree-lined park replete with picnic pavilion, paths, sports courts and tot lot, new senior apartments border parents and children (even relatives) in townhomes to the north, east and west. Older residents can mingle among all ages in the spacious clubhouse or on the commons or hang out with peers in their own senior environment. Rural Neighborhoods believes being part of a caring neighborhood is a lifelong desire.

Robert Jensen Learning Center & Stage at Cinco De Mayo Park

His service on behalf of the poor in Homestead (especially agricultural workers) is decades long. Helping Rural Neighborhoods, Centro Campesino, Homestead Soup Kitchen and others as a stalwart volunteer, Bob Jensen bridges cultural divides, speaks common sense and outworks us all. His simple acts to help school children read touch students one by one. His leadership in the local arts community through the Miami Dade Cultural Affairs Council, Homestead Community Concerts and Florida Pioneer Museum continue to enlarge local cultural offerings.

It’s a suitable tribute then to bring these personal interests together in the Robert Jensen Learning Center and Stage. Scheduled to break ground in 2014, architect Ted Hoffman’s 5,800 square foot circular structure and intimate lawn invites children and neighborhood residents into Cinco de Mayo Park to learn basic skills and to experience music, theater, dance and the spoken word.