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”.
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.
Congratulations to the NY/NJ/Philadelphia Chapter for hosting the 27th Reunion of the Ricks Institute Alumni Association in Willingboro, NJ. We had a good Business Session and a great time reuniting with School Mates and Friends. This was election year and we want to congratulate the slate of officers 2016 – 2018…
Emmanuel Paulus – National Chairman John E. Scott – Vice National Chairman David A Thomas – Chair, Records & Correspondence Rocheforte Padmore – Chair, Programs & Development Mary Toe-Tarpah – Chair, Audit John Gblah – Chair, Religious Affairs George Brown – Chair, Elections Inez Reeves – Chair, Legal Affairs
Continuing as Chair, Financial Affairs (in a non election year) is Lucelia Harmon
OUR WEBSITE WILL BE UPDATED SOON WITH THE NEW OFFICERS AND THEIR PICTURES!!!
Just had a live demo by the Florida Visual Learning System (FVLS) in connection with the Virtual Education Project that the current administration has taken on. A generator and computer lab has already been set up at Ricks Institute as a donation from RIAA to get this program going. More will be put on the website. Imagine an instructor teaching a class from the US. Exciting future for Ricks Institute.
Tell us (by providing comments) if YOU think this is a worthy initiative…
The National Chairman Dave Dixon wrapped up his two year term recounting the achievements of his administration as laid out in a plan he had put forth when elected. The plan included initiating 2 major projects; a new Water System for Ricks Institute and a Virtual Education Program that would allow students to receive instruction via the Internet. The Chairman reported that he and others in his Administration are working closely with the school to begin piloting this program.