Fellow Board Members, Officers and Members, Supporters:
I have the honor to report to you the state of our Association for fiscal period Sept. 4, 2016 to Sept 4, 2017. The state of our Association is as follows: 1. Very strong in the commitment that remains a burden to limited dedicated members; 2. Fair in the participatory role of our general alumni body and 3. Poor in all fundraising endeavors.
We want to commend the few but faithful alumni who do not relent in their continuous commitment as they donate valuable time, structural resources and financial contributions. However, there are few additional members who remain minimally involved when called upon; we also recognize and remain so grateful for your support. Fundraising, one of our most important goals must be maximally achieved. Most members have great passion for our beloved Alma Mater and desire a transformation. Although this passion remains deep for Ricks Institute, the majority of our 500 alumni who reside in the United States are not matching their passion in a concrete reality of giving back to support the goals of this association. We see this pattern at our annual weekend reunion which brings in great excitement; then it wears off quickly following departure. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that we will gradually find improved tools to engage them further, either by what we continuously do or create novel areas of outreach. This should be a great and never a daunting task for the future leadership of this great association.
Our Association has the potential to be vibrant and very effective if most of us work together in sincerity and honesty, before and during our convention. This work is daily; it still occurs after the convention ends and throughout the year. At the next convention (our harvest), we are encouraging more laborers to yield greater quality and better fruits from the hard work ahead since “”The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”.
We want to recognize the passing of 4 (four) fellow dragons this year: Esther Freeman Gbonimi, Humphrey Vanpelt, Wesley Baily and Alfred T. Max Davis; as well as many family members of fellow dragons.
This 2017 convention is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Wesley Nathaniel Bailey, Jr. who was our former National Chairman, Chairman of our Board of Directors, Board Member, Chapter president and a very committed alumnus. He was of the Panther class of 1974. His departure has left a void that we can never fill in years to come. We want also to recognize the demise of another alumnus, Mr. Alfred T-Max Davis, also from the Panther class of 74. He was very energetic and inspirational to us all when he attended our convention in good health. He too has left a void that will never be filled.
We will be remembering these dragons and family members of other dragons at our Sunday worship service. We encourage their families to be in attendance.
Progress through 2017
“Project Renovate Ricks”
“Project Renovate Ricks” launched in April following unanimous board approval. This project is intended to step-by-step carry out minor and major renovations at Ricks as our resources allow. Some of us visited Ricks in recent times and saw the global needs for renovation. A video was also emailed to most of you depicting this dire situation. Thereafter, this project was commenced in phases based on our limited resources but our desire to restore the facade of the campus. We then shared the project concept with our general body via teleconference immediately after the board meeting for suggestions and input. We are glad to report that PHASE I of the project has started and we were hoping that it would be completed by the start of our convention. This project could be marred by the present, heavy rainy season in the Liberian weather. No matter the delays, the status of the project will be presented by our program Chairman in a moment.
Most importantly, I am encouraging that each, all, alumni donate at least $100.00. If about 150 alumni will be kind enough to deliver to this appeal, an amount of $15,000.00 (fifteen thousand US dollars) will be immediately realized. This will constitute the estimated cost to complete phase I of the project for renovating the school building. We are hopeful and confident that our alumni will respond to this worthy cause in an expedient manner for donation. Your delay to respond will nevertheless be disappointing; but we are sure it will not be due to a refusal or lack of love for Ricks but perhaps you are still praying and carefully considering to give an even bigger amount during this convention. We will provide you opportunity again at this convention. In the meantime, we are very grateful to all those that gave the stated amount, and even for those who donated above the call of the $100.00 expectation.
We have recognized that our website remains the bloodline of our association as it provides valuable information for our membership. In needs an upgrade; we desire a website to be functionally active with timely and regular updates. We are thankful to some of our young alumni who have risen to our call of duty in assisting us in this direction. Today, we will lunch our modified website, designed by Mr. Fubande Mamey, in a few minutes. This will be done by our Chairman of Records along with Mr. Boakai Mamey.
We have to transform our association by maximizing its outreach capability. This will involve the encouragement and recruitment of more alumni. Membership in numbers, talents and involvement is crucial to the survival of this association. Our membership committee is actively working on this endeavor to reach out to as many alumni as possible, making them inclusive to all causes of our association. We appointed a two-man committee (Mr. James Toles and Ms. Gloria Cooper), assisted by our Program Chairman, Mr. Rocheforte Padmore to spearhead this process. Please be open to support this cause when you are approached by them.
Our National Vice-Chair has been actively engaging our various chapters to organize and be fully participatory in this association. There is still more work to be done since Chapter activities are still not at parity. If this association must continue to survive, our chapters have to be functional throughout the year and not only at the time of the convention. We have realized that some of our alumni come to convention regularly but are not involved with their chapter; we therefore encourage you to join in and fully participate in your chapter’s activities. Your involvement will enable you to explore chapter resources, enabling you to develop a track to understanding the process of time, functional and financial commitments in the association. We kindly ask each alumnus to identify with a chapter closest to the state of residence and get involved.
We will continue be open to new strategies for raising funds. We just listened to a great presentation of new ways of raising fund by Rev. Dr. Rudolph Bropleh. We have to adopt these ideas and launch further to our benefit. Newer innovations are encouraged from our alumni experts as we move forward to create additional avenues that will improve our fundraising endeavors. Quicker ways to raise funds by directly requesting a donation should be abandoned. We will employ all resources within our association to request donations (for a specified and meaningful cause, projects, scholarships, school supplies, etc.) using our website as a portal.
We want to be an organization with open access year round to the flow of information. We have also engaged in more board/ officers meetings than at any time in the history of this association. This trend will continue. This year, the administration has been opened to allowing more information through general alumni teleconferences, email, text, etc. These general teleconferences have engaged our members, more than ever, in understanding the history of this association. General alumni teleconferences have succeeded in membership engagement by encouraging them to ask questions and receive vital informational responses; it also has requested suggestions that are meant to meet their interests. We will continue these kinds of engagements.
We have members that are experts in different professions; we don’t want to miss the opportunity to gain wisdom from their insights. This is why this year we want to introduce a concept of “small group discussion” session at the business meeting. We hope to use this time to discuss new ideas of various topics and thereafter render suggestions that we can use throughout the year.
Let us assure you that we are in no way frustrated or discouraged but remain optimistic at all times. We were fully aware of the many challenges that come with the leadership of any organization. We strongly believe in predestination, that we are not here by happenstance; it is by God’s grace, preparing us for critical moments of involvement in time. There are times that taking challenges can turn to glorious opportunities to help others; so nothing should be a deterrence in making a difference to helping others. In the meantime, we save your space; we remain more than determined to keep our hands on the plow for the development of Ricks Institute, its students and its prosperity. We have and will always remain focused, keeping our eyes on the bigger picture.
We thank all of you for your kind support and encouragement in whatever way. We thank you for your undivided attention, and joining us again for 2017 reunion and convention with the Carolinas Chapter that we are so grateful to for our hosting us in a marvelous way.
“Here we point to Glorious, Ricks for fame and victory”. Indeed, victory is ours, for with God success is sure.