Merline Barton, a native of Kingston, Jamaica is Miami’s Community Champion in the Southeastern 2010 Feeding Dreams Competition
MIAMI – The spotlight is on local community hero Merline Barton when the 2010 Feeding Dreams campaign launches in August. Barton is Miami’s Community Champion as part of the Feeding Dreams grassroots initiative supported by General Mills that celebrates African-Americans’ commitment to community service at the local level. Barton’s compassion for her neighbors is paired with a deep-rooted passion for creating a more vibrant city through the causes she champions daily in Miami neighborhoods.
Beginning August 1, residents of Miami and supporters throughout the country may cast a vote at FeedingDreams.com for Barton who will be among the 10 Feeding Dreams champions competing for grant monies, and her photograph and story will be featured on the web site. This year’s Feeding Dreams program highlights Community Champions in 10 cities: Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Charlotte, NC; Columbia, SC; Jackson, MS; Jacksonville, FL; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; Miami, FL and Norfolk, VA.
Nine years ago, Barton co-founded The Thelma Gibson Health Initiative, bringing social services programs to the heart of the community. The three core program areas include At-Risk Minority Seniors, which focuses on improving older adults’ quality and quantity of life by providing increased access to health care; Youth Prevention Intervention Program, which serves youth ages five to 18 and provides individual and family counseling, education, mentoring, tutoring and cultural enrichment activities; and HIV/AIDS, Substance Abuse, Outreach, Education, Testing and Counseling, which targets homeless minority residents who are presented with multiple, untreated issues such as mental illness and/or substance abuse compounded with HIV/AIDS.
At FeedingDreams.com, visitors will be encouraged to vote once per day for their local Community Champion or a Community Champion from another city. The individual who garners the most votes at the end of the voting period will receive a $10,000 grant to benefit the charity of his or her choice; followed by the second-place winner who will receive $5,000; and a third-place champion who will receive $3,000. The remaining champions will receive $2,000 grants respectively for their designated charities. All nominees receive a $500 check as acknowledgement of their community service.
“We’re honored to recognize Ms. Barton who is making a difference and improving communities. We created the Feeding Dreams program to celebrate the work of our Community Champions, and we’re excited to have consumers help us empower these amazing people in 10 cities with grant monies,” said Rodolfo Rodriguez, Director, Multicultural Marketing, General Mills. “Merline and other Community Champions have made extraordinary strides to improve the lives of so many. We encourage everyone in Miami and supporters nationwide to visit the Web site and cast a vote for their top Community Champion.”
FeedingDreams.com also pays tribute to 2008 and 2009 Feeding Dreams Community Champions from Birmingham, Charlotte, Memphis and Norfolk.
“We’re celebrating a handful of our brightest community stars, our civic engineers,” said Susan L Taylor, Feeding Dreams spokesperson and editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement. “I am truly inspired by their leadership and energized by their work. These champions show that with vision, passion and a plan, we can restore our communities and change our world.”
Feeding Dreams online voting begins Sunday, August 1, 2010 and runs through Sunday, October 31, 2010. The program culminates in December in Atlanta with a celebratory luncheon and awards ceremony hosted by Taylor.