The Miami-Dade County Commission for Women met on Wednesday, October 28th. Members discussed future meetings and how those might be impacted by Governor DeSantis and what decisions he will make regarding COVID-19. The commission also discussed fundraisers and a donation to the Miami-Dade County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.
The commission, like other Miami-Dade County organizations, has been meeting online to minimize COVID-19 risks. It is only legal for them to formally meet online because of an executive order renewed by Gov. DeSantis every month.
“There’s some rumors he will not be renewing it for November,” said Monica Skoko Rodríguez, Executive Director and Program Officer of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women. If Gov. DeSantis does not renew the order, it would be illegal for government meetings to be conducted virtually.
Members of the commission appeared reluctant to conduct in-person meetings due to health concerns. They are looking into scheduling meetings at the Women’s Park, local libraries, or other venues that would provide enough space for social distancing should the order not be renewed.
Monica Interian, First Vice Chair of the Commission for Women and a registered nurse, voiced her concerns for the future of COVID-19 and the community. “From my own knowledge and common sense as a healthcare provider, I think that by the end of this year, if not the beginning of next year, we’re going to have another surge,” said Interian.
“I understand that the economy is by far paramount…we understand that. What I don’t understand is why some people are not wearing their mask, they’re not maintaining social distancing. I mean, they’re just not following the CDC guidelines,” Interian said, acknowledging the desire of many, including Gov. DeSantis, to keep local businesses open.
Members concluded that their next meeting would take place on November 18th but the location of the meeting will not be decided until it is clear whether or not the commission will be able to conduct it digitally.
A member filed a motion to review the meeting’s agenda for that afternoon. In true Zoom fashion, a dog began to bark. “I think there’s a dog that is not approving of the agenda,” joked Michelle LaPiana, a member of the commission.
Shamele Jenkins, Executive Director and Immediate Past President of the Miami-Dade County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (MDCFAPA), attended the meeting to request a donation for her program.
Jenkins has been a foster parent herself to over 300 youth over 30 years and has adopted 5 children. Jenkins has also been awarded the “Angels in Adoptions” award from the United States Congressional Coalition on Adoptions Institution.
Through the MDCFAPA, Jenkins is raising money to give Miami-Dade youths in foster care each a $10 Walmart gift card in honor of the upcoming holiday season.
“Kids come into care because they have been neglected or they have been abandoned or they have been abused mentally, physically, and/or sexually. This is a population that 99.9% of the community is always forgetting about,” Jenkins told the committee.
“I realize that this is a pandemic season but this is also a season where, during the holidays, many of our youth have become reclusive. If there are no gifts for them or little to no gifts at all, I can see many of them contemplating suicide. We have seen suicides in the past,” Jenkins said.
Members of the Commission for Women were supportive of making a donation. “It’s already a particularly challenging year on students and young folks’ mental health, so I think supporting this would be a really good idea,” said Raisa Sequeira, Member at Large and Communications Chair.
After reviewing the available funds, a motion was filed to donate $500 to Jenkins’ cause. The commission voted unanimously to make the donation. More information about the cause and how to donate can be found here.