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Riviera resident promotes unity

Column: Riviera resident promotes unity

By Mary Thurwachter, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 21, 2001

Rachel Ibarra says Riviera Beach has been a community divided for far too long.

"Racism and bigotry are citywide, and we need to bring people together," she said. "We have more things in common as human beings than differences. . . . We need to all work together."

With that in mind, Ibarra, 38, recently founded the Riviera Beach Community Association, a group of volunteers devoted to fostering trust and respect and addressing issues that concern all residents. The association meets on the second Monday of each month at city hall.

"We're planning and organizing," she said. "We'll have guest speakers. We will not endorse candidates but will work with elected politicians."

Already the group has adopted the Suncoast High School Marching Band and is raising money for new uniforms.

"So far, we've made a $500 donation," Ibarra said. "The city is planning a Fourth of July celebration at Bicentennial Park, and we'll have a table there to hand out fliers."

Ibarra, president of a home-based public relations company called NozNewz, is a former newspaper reporter from Los Angeles, a press deputy to a Los Angeles city councilman and a police officer with the Ossining Police Department in New York.

Along with Ibarra, who is president of the association, board members include Nann Miller, vice president; Marvin Reiner, board member; Jim Fox, recording secretary; Jim Mathews, fund-raising chair; and the Rev. E. Austin, board member.

"These volunteers have been invaluable with forming the organization, and we sincerely appreciate the time and effort they devote toward making it successful," Ibarra said.

The association's objective is to just get the word out about its existence and recruit new members. Those interested in joining may call Ibarra at 840-0510.

Pioneers of the new century is a weekly column about people who make a difference. To nominate someone, write Mary Thurwachter, The Palm Beach Post, P.O. Box 24700, West Palm Beach, Fla. 33416; or call 820-4576, or e-mail

mary_thurwachter@pbpost.com.

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