2008 Convention — Nurturing our Youth for the Future

HALO’s annual convention, now in its third year, is gaining momentum just as the organization is refocusing its mission to mainly be the support and promotion of future leaders through education. We expect this momentum to continue to build as we remain steadfast in our mission to unify our community.

In an effort to facilitate the community’s access to our convention, it was moved from its location of the past two years at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Miami to the Miami Shores campus of Barry University. This change in venue proved to be a beneficial one as evidenced by the number of students who attended the Students’ Forum on Friday. There were a total of 162 students present which was a 46% increase in the expected attendance by students for that day. Close to 200 individuals participated or registered for our first ever job fair. Convention traffic for Saturday and Sunday counted close to 500 visiting guests. There were about twenty different organizations on hand to serve guests at the convention. Those guests were treated to a choice of forty-five speakers on different topics with the sole goal of bringing information to them through a solid and varied program.

Convention Chair, Ms. Gracelle Toussaint, made the convention’s opening remarks on Friday, inaugurating day, to an auditorium filled to maximum capacity with students from both Dade and Broward counties, accompanied by their teachers, and ranging from middle school through high school level. Amazingly, among those students, one could also count students at college and university levels.

Our speakers came as far as New York, Cincinnati, and Massachusetts as well as locally to speak with and motivate the students. It was a pleasure to see our panel of speakers being inundated with questions and commentaries from eager students even well after the program came to an end. Drs. Magaly Rouzier and Herold Merisier were fantastic as moderators in engaging the students and speakers resulting in enhancing even further the speakers' sessions.

Students had a chance to meet HALO’s first ever Essay Competition winners who not only presented their winning essays, but also had a chance to address the students as well as receiving their prize with the audience looking on. Our First Prize winner of a $1,000.00 check was Ms. Chimene Mathurin out of Homestead. Our Second Prize winner of $500.00 was Ms. Daphne Nacius out of Port-St. Lucie. Unfortunately our Third Prize winner of $300.00, Ms. Dina George from Miami, could not be present to accept her prize, but she received honorary mention in absentia during the award ceremony. One could hear the exclamations of impressed students during the award ceremony. Comments such as, "Next year it will be me," could be heard all about the room. What a pleasure it was to witness such excitement!

Congratulations go out to all the teachers who served as chaperons and championed for their students to attend the convention. Our hope is that next year HALO will be in the delightful dilemma of having to provide two auditoria to serve as hosts to an even larger and varied number of students!

The exhibit hall was open on Saturday and Sunday and counted among exhibitors private businesses including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, police department, insurance companies, graphic design companies, and artists, as well as an array of schools and not-for profit organizations. Traffic in the exhibit hall was a steady stream of inquisitive guests either looking for information or browsing at free available gifts. The South Florida Workforce Mobile van was kept busy all two days by eager and serious job seekers. Networking was taken to a serious level, for at every turn one could see different individuals gathered together, talking, laughing or exchanging business cards.

Our town hall meeting on the HIV/AIDS epidemic conducted by our own Secretary General, Dr. Herold Merisier, fuelled a very animated debate. The room was abuzz with different opinions and solutions to the problem. It was a great discussion on an obviously extremely sensitive issue. Our keynote speaker for Saturday, Mr. Ralph Gilles, was a great success with the audience. He made an inspiring presentation on the road to his success.

We had great reviews from convention guests on the delivery of the presentations and the caliber of our speakers, a fact that makes us very proud. Our objective is to provide a successful program with topical and relevant information that is useful to our targeted audience. HALO is nowhere close to its goal as far as attendance at the convention is concerned; however, we remain committed to our objective of being a vehicle for information to members of our community, specially the youth. We invite all other organizations and individuals who share that objective with us to help us achieve this goal in order to bridge the disparity and gap present in our community when compared to other communities in the South Florida area.

We would like to thank all of our faithful collaborating organizations as well as many members of the media who have supported us and helped us put together our third convention. We have the upmost respect for all of you and are looking forward to many more years of working together.

As we look forward to our fourth convention, our hope is that HALO will continue to provide quality services to our community with the help of the aforementioned and that in turn the community will support all of us by attending in droves our future conventions! With that said HALO hopes to see you at our Fourth Annual "Nurturing Our Youth for The Future" Convention slated for January 23-25th, 2009, at Barry University. Come and get acquainted with our community! See you there!

Convention pictures                                                                                                                                                               More Convention pictures

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