The 2018 Convention held in Lanham, Maryland
August 10 - 12, 2018
The DMV always plays host to good conventions and this year was no exception. There are mixed opinions on the ranking; some claiming it was the best while others classifying it as one of the best. No matter which direction the pendulum swung, 2018 convention will be placed among the better. From the arrival of members and supporters on Friday the 10th to the departure on Sunday the 12th, the convention was full of excitement, entertainment, fun and rock solid business. Mr. Johnny Barnard and his team of hardworking committee members from across several States did a remarkable job of putting it all together. A special thanks to Mr. Tommy G. Logan for effectively running the shuttle service between BWI Marshall Airport, the Best Western Capital Beltway Hotel and the meet and greet venue (Ernest Johnson's home). Some first time attendees were so impressed that they have vowed to make it to the Atlanta convention of 2019. This means we are getting better. Members and guests arrived during all hours of Friday. Some even got in on the day before to make sure their presence were felt.
The Meet and Greet Social
It was a little different from previous conventions in that there was a cover charge to enter. No one really complained about paying the meager fee of $10 for entrance, with complimentary food and water. Other beverages were on sale at very reasonable prices. The financial team had their act really organized to the point that money was handled at a central station and tickets were issued for everything. There was plenty of food to go around, the music was spun by DJ/host Ernest Johnson. The evening was off to a very good start. President King asked to pause the music for a round of introduction (a first of its kind at the meet and greet social). One could not help but notice some of the first timers or first in a while. Among them were, Hon. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Barwon, Mabu Torbor, Mimi Bedell, Martha Freeman, Myrna Saab, Marie Brown, Assunta Hage, Trokon Gbadyu, as well as Osseh Gordon and company. Some other regulars came on fishing expedition. Mother Caulcrick was not in attendance due to other pressing issues. However, she was with us in spirit. Mr. Tommy Logan was very helpful in shuttling people between the meet and greet venue and the hotel. He did it cheerfully without showing any sign of exhaustion. He exemplified a true spirit of the association. Without the fear of having to drive after a few to several drinks, most people didn't have to worry about getting pulled over by the police with Tommy G. Logan at the wheel. Everyone that volunteered to bring drinks for the event came through successfully.
The Business Meeting
The main event of the morning and into the afternoon was the general business meeting. This is when we gather for serious financial and policy discussions to help guide the association throughout the course of the year. In addition to the routine roll taking, minutes and financial report, the business meeting included projects discussions, a change in leadership at the Ways and Means Committee, and election of the Board of Directors. Lunch was provided during the meeting to give members the opportunity to recharge as many persons failed to take advantage of the breakfast provided by the hotel. We learned that the financial health of the association was strong and properly managed by our able financial team. While we might appear to be in a strong financial shape, there are many challenges facing the organization that could dry up the treasury in a short time if an aggressive fund raising campaign is not embarked upon soon. With in mind, Ways and Means Chair-lady stepped aside for the more energetic Immanuel Wortee Karpeh to take the leadership of the committee. The solar panel project as a means of providing a more stable supply of electricity to the campus is a key prerequisite to the revamping of the computer lab (a priority project being considered). We are still obligated to compensating four science lab instructional personnel until they can formally get on the Ministry of Education payroll. We were presented with a challenge to raise $10,000 in order to receive a matching $10,000 to undertake the replacing of 52 windows on the main building on the campus. The current windows are obsolete with most of the glasses broken.
There was an election of the Board of Directors where all members were up for reelection. The body unanimously re-elected all current members. But in keeping with the constitution, there was a need of two additional members to constitute a full Board. It was then that Dr. S. Obediah Butscher and Mr. Trokon Gbadyu were the new addition to the Board. Towards the end of the business meeting, Atlanta, Georgia was selected as the location for the 2019 convention when Dr. Butscher opted out of taking the convention to California due to the possibility of not generating enough revenue.
The Annual Dinner and Ball
This was the anticipated event of the entire weekend. It afforded members and guests the opportunity to display an array of elegant fashions while dining to some deliciously prepared food. Most importantly, this is when we expect to raise our largest amount of funds for the year. MC Harmon was all set to get the program to start on time. She instructed DJ Alvin Hoff to play some soft tunes while people got situated in their seats. Following a combined invocation and blessing of the food by Chaplain Daniel Davis, the program was up to a very good start. Dinner was served early as per the agreement while DJ Hoff continued to play a fine selection of soft tunes.. Ms. Lainu Johnson entertained the crowd to a beautiful song composed by her specifically for the occasion. President King gave a brief state of the association address in which he outlined the projects we are involved with at our alma mater, the Bassa High School in Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Liberia. He also spoke of the additional four new standing committees established to make the organization more effective. They are: 1) Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, 2) Convention Program Committee, 3) Technology Committee and 4) Finance Committee. Dr. King addressed the discouraging performance of the 12 grade students in the WAEC exams, citing that not a single student passed in the STEM courses of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, even though we poured resources in the science laboratory (equipment, specimen and instructional staff).
Other highlights of the evening included an inspiring address by Mr. Eugene Bedell, an accomplished business executive in the Washington, DC area, the annual raffle, queen/king contest, and a special fund raising event spearheaded by Mr. Immanuel Woortee Karpeh. The raffle gave away several valuable prizes, including a laptop computer, a 40" smart TV, an IPad, and a modern electric iron. The King/Queen Contest was a battle between males and females with the reigning queen, Georgia Hansen, defending her title. Mr. D. Patrick Williams represented the males. There were three rounds of competition. The contest was a cash competition. The males were the winner in round one, the females bounced back strong to win the second round. During the third and final round, when the females seemed to be on the verge of retaking the crown, the men were quietly supporting their king. At one point, queen Hansen got up off her seat and took the plate around which appeared to be paying off (considering the pile of money seen in her plate). At the end of the round and the competition, Mr. Patrick Williams was victorious, earning him the title of Mr. BHSAUSA, the second man towin in the history of the association. Later on, Mr. Karpeh did a magnificent job of fundraising for the windows project. We were trying to raise a total of $10,000 in order to receive a matching gift of the same amount to replace all of the obsolete windows on the main building on campus. Employing a unique strategy, Mr Karpeh was able to spearhead the raising of a little more than $6,000 in cash and pledges for this worthy cause.
Following the installation of the newly elected Board Members by Guest Speaker Nagbe, the Grand March was led by Board Chairman, Victor D. King and his partner, Mrs. Diana Harmon.
The Farewell Brunch
Breakfast was served by the hotel on Sunday morning where most members and guest stayed. By late morning to early afternoon, the activities moved to the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Johnny Barnard in College Park, MD. Deliciously prepared home cooked food was provided. And as usual, the last round of fun and jokes from outfits to dancing of the weekend, as well as from past years, particularly our years at the Bassa High School. Everyone seemed to have had a good time and are looking forward to the convention in Atlanta in 2019. It is expected to be quite exciting as well.