Every fall, organizations in the Diaspora begin phase two of their annual campaigns. At the core of their efforts is the concept of giving back – a universal principle that is supported by federal not-for-profit law.
As usual, this period is crowded. In addition, the Harrison College-Queens College are in the process of renewing their association.
Among the events are: the Barbados Cancer Society’s symposium and a luncheon for their hospice project in Barbados; the Foundation Alumni Health Walk and Dance; the Barbados Nurses Association’s 50th Anniversary Grand Luncheon; the Barbados Consulate’s Pre-Independence Extravaganza; affairs by the Ellerslie and St George Old Scholars’ Association; and a Harrison College and Queens College October fundraiser.
When the Collegians first started, many persons strongly felt that they should join and help other associations, rather than create new ones.
When reminded of the history, one member of the steering committee, Michael Ashby, responded: “I was a member of the second effort and I am very proud of what we did. After our quiet period, Eustace Burnett kept asking me when are we going to get the outfit going again. So I decided to make a start.”
Burnett, who left Harrison College in the fourth form to rejoin his parents – who had come back to Barbados because of the 1929 recession and later returned during the war – confirmed Ashby’s view.
“I loved the camaraderie of the events. They reminded me of my schools days. My only regret is that I never got to meet some of my schoolmates,” he said.
A confident Junior Moore saw the future of the organization in a longer term view.
“Do you have to call my name? I don’t want it to be about me. It is more important that you call the name of Thomas Harrison, who, in 1733 . . . and, by the way, was a merchant – reached into his pocket and started a first class institution to help the poor. I am not certain who he defined as poor, but I like the idea.
“I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of Prime Ministers of Barbados and alumnae across the world who owe a large part of their success to the instruction they received at Harrison College. If you get my point, our Alumnae, and not the Government, should be calling the shots with the contributions they make; and it doesn’t have to be money, it could be mentoring. I am a product or by-product of Thomas Harrison’s idea. What he did is consistent with my Methodist faith and practice. What I said about Harrison College also holds true of Queens College and other secondary schools,” he added.
Reverend Dr Laurel Scott, first co-chair, president and a founding member of the association, is more than hopeful that it will continue to give back.
“It is a matter of choice. We have a good chance of succeeding, if only because we have a core group of experienced people . . . . We have some big ideas, but we also need to get in step with some of the things which the schools need.”
The Sons and Daughters of Barbados – the first known philanthropic organization in Harlem, New York – eventually folded because its members were old and efforts to revive it failed. Interestingly, most of the leadership of many current Barbadian organizations is drawn from the same member pool which ran them 15 years ago.
Consequently, the issue of transition and sustainability is not unique to Collegians. It is the thin line between developing an institution and maintaining it – a partition that cannot be joined by a piece of plaster or sealed with glue. It needs a leadership lens that sees an institution as generational.