Greetings. I have the utmost honor to present to you the state of our association for 2018. Let me first give God all the glory and honor for giving us another grace opportunity to meet in another convention and re-union. This is a special convention because this marks our 30 years of educational investment at Ricks, and interestingly, the convention is also being held here at our headquarters with our beloved DC-Metro Chapter that has worked assiduously well throughout this year to make this a reality. We are very confident that we will have a great convention and reunion.
This year the state of our association may not be as strong as we would like it to be but it is filled with great optimism and lots of possibilities for a brighter future if we work together and seize every opportunity that may come our way and make the best of it. There is a lot of passion for Ricks, but we have to change our passion to tangible results through our full participation and donations of our time and financial resources. We must commend all of you for your sacrifice through the years, but let us also recognize 35% of our membership that have continuously kept their hands to the plow for 30 consistent years and have never turned back, come what may. They are the ones who have been directly involved and continue to do all the “heavy lifting” for this association to be sustained all these years. Thank you for your service; thank you for your commitment.
This year I am pleased to report that the state of our association is progressing with changing times. We are encouraging full participation from all our members. If our membership in the diaspora, especially the US and other European countries is between 400 to 600 alumni as estimated, than we are blessed and there should be no reason why we sometimes struggle to raise the needed funds for our beloved Alma Mater. However, we have been able make it for the past 30 years with this lukewarm approach. Some of us may consider this as a “success”, while others believe we could have done better. Whatever view we hold may not be as important as finding better ways to build on the “success” or go for the next 30 years with a better result.
Let us now pause to remember fellow dragons who passed from labor to rest (Sept. 2, 2017 to Sept 2, 2018): William H. Mathies,’78, Ruth Tolbert Goodridge, Lincoln O. Wayne,’68,Sayku A. Maseru Waritay’76, Eddie M. Collins, ‘78, Austin G. Mulbah, ’86, Austen D. Clark, Sr., ’67, Othello Johnson, ’88, Hawah Collins Henry, ’76 and any unknown dragons that we have no knowledge of. May their souls rest in God’s perfect peace and perpetual light shine upon them.
Progress through this Fiscal year
“Project Renovate Ricks”
Since the end of Convention 2017, we have kept to the task of executing “Project Renovate Ricks”. We are pleased to report that phase 1 of our project, which included the painting of the exterior and interior of our William V. S. Tubman administrative building was fully completed in April, 2018 with our original paint colors like old times(gold and brown). The cost was up to $15,000.
Recently, this month (August), we have started phase 2 of “Project Renovate Ricks”, which includes the replacement of all windows on the administrative building to standard sliding windows like we have here in the United States and other developed countries. The school building has a total of 183 windows according to the estimate. We believe these windows will be more manageable and durable as compared to what we had in the past; the present window glasses keep falling from the frames and breaking, and are posing serious safety concerns for the students. The cost of this second major phase of our project, replacing all windows is about $35,000. Our Chairman of Program will highlight pictures of the progress thus far in the next presentation. “Project Renovate Ricks”, Phase II includes 4 major areas of the building that are in 4 phases. Presently, phase 1, which includes the two arms of the front of the building will be completed by mid September. The cost of that phase is $7,202 and that fund has been made available to the contractors and expected to be the end of October. Phase II which will cost about $12,910, includes the auditorium, and will begin immediately after phase 1 is completed; if all go well and the funds are available, the replacement of all the windows will be completed by the end of December or early January 2019.
Our goal is then is to move on to the next project under “Project Renovate Ricks”, repair or put in a new school gate after the administrative building has been renovated. Fortunately, we are pleased to report that some members of the class of 1976 have volunteered to give us a helping hand to undertake that project; they have sent us the design and details are still being worked out. Now that the gate will be taken care of by members of the class of 1976, the association will turn its focus to the pavement of the road from the gate to the administrative building after the building renovation. We are encouraging other classes to undertake any other project of their desire to help with “Project Renovate Ricks”.
Our website should be the bloodline of our association. Last year a new website was launched with the assistance of Mr. Fabunde Maimey, one of our young alumni who is a web designer. Mr. Maimey is presently at Ricks fulfilling his 2-year obligation to Ricks as computer instructor. We are gradually updating and modifying the website on a daily basis. We have agreed to turn the website over to Mr. Maimey’s company to manage it on a contractual basis with minimal fees. But we will need a volunteer team for content and editing. New items on the website are as follows: RIAA contributions to Ricks through the years, memorial page of deceased dragons and family members of dragons, starting from 2017, celebration page of accomplished dragons, wordings and instrumental of music of our school ode played by Minister Phillip Hance, one of the musician at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Providence, church of your humble servant, T-Max scholarship, Project Renovate Ricks and 30/30 donors. We hope we can upload our financial summary after convention 2018 pretty soon.
We have initiated direct fund raising at every convention and throughout the year, asking each alum to donate a minimum of $100 for “Project Renovate Ricks”; this initiative continued at the convention last year where members were asked to pledge. We are pleased to report that our Program Chair and his team have been working assiduously to encourage members to make installment payments of their pledges. About $11,000 at the last convention was pledged; a total of $8,000 has been collected thus far. If you have not made a contribution, please do so for last year. We thank those who have made good on their pledges. This year at the dinner again, we will encourage all of us to make direct donation or new pledges for 2018 and make installment payments again; we realize that some of our members and supporters did not have the opportunity last year to pledge because they were not at the convention or perhaps they were not ready; this will be your chance to help with the projects at Ricks to be fully executed. God will surely bless you for your contributions.
The RIAA 30/30 Campaign was launched this year to help fund our STEM program; our National Program Chair has been working with his team this year on ways to apply for educational grants and implement a Stem program at Ricks. He will give you a detail in few minutes. 30/30 is a fund drive geared towards encouraging each alumnus to contribute $30 dollars in commemoration of our 30th convention & reunion, $1 per year. Your contribution to our 30/30 initiative will help support our Project Committee newest endeavor at focusing on STEM education at Ricks. We are hoping that some of you contribute more than a dollar; please do not hesitate to do so. Your contribution will be highly commendable as the need is so great at Ricks Institute, as we strive to make a difference with every contribution you give. We thank alumnae Yvonne Itoka, who suggested this idea; we also thank our team for following through on this.
Our various chapters are essential to the wellbeing of our association. A stronger chapter will make a stronger convention so we want to encourage chapter development. Community awareness is very essential for a chapter to be successful. We are asking each chapter to at least identify one major program to do in your community annually that your community will know your chapter for. The Georgia Chapter has been an example and very successful in hosting the education breakfast for the last 10 years. The New England Chapter started a “Music for Education” gospel musical concert this year that allowed it to raise substantial funds. We commend all these efforts. We also continue to encourage each alumnus to identify with a chapter in your state, if there is one.
We need to identify new places where there are not necessarily chapters of our association but the presence of influential alumni members like pastors, community leaders, etc. to host future conventions to give our already overburdened chapters some breathing space or time. We need to start exploring these new places for the sustainability of our association for extended period. We have to think outside the box and act soon because some of these places may not be there forever; these influential members may not always have these opportunities so we need to act fast. We need to be innovative, think a new and better way if our association is to survive for many more years. “A hint to the wise is quiet sufficient.”
We want to sincerely thank all our officers and the entire membership for the confidence reposed in us to lead you for the past two years. It was indeed an honor serving you as your National Chairman along with our team; thank you for your support and cooperation. It is our hope that our association will move up another level with the new leadership that will come in, building on where we left off; we do not to intent to go for another two- year term because we are of the conviction that those that will be elected in the next few minutes are more than capable to take our association to another height. There are many seasoned dragons better to lead so I do not wish to entrench myself into power for another two years but to give way for new and better ideas. In the future we may return if the need arises but for now our support will go to whomever our new chairman and officers will be. May God richly bless each of you, save our association and prosper it in years to come. “Until we win the Golden Fleece, let toiling never cease”.