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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Annual Dues Increasing for Douglass Alumni: Programs and Overhead Cited

It will cost you a little more to be a member of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association of Kingsport.

At its meeting on Saturday, October 10th, the alumni board has approved a three-tier system of increased dues, designed to allow members to show their support for the alumni association with different amounts and contributions.

Beginning next year, alumni dues for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association will rise from $25.00 dollars a year, to the three levels of support:

$50.00 dollars a year at the bronze level

$75.00 dollars a year at the silver level

$100 dollars a year at the gold level.

"We have different fund raisers from time to time to keep our bottom line all right," says alumni president Alan Watterson, " but to fund programs that we do during lean months, sometimes we just don't have the money.  $25.00 has supported us for a while, but if we're going to survive, an increase in the dues is necessary."

"Compared to other alumni associations in the area, I'm suprised that we've been able to get by with 25 dollars a year," he says.  "We just can't afford that anymore."

When he took over as president at the Douglass reunion back in July, Watterson echoed a growing sentiment on the board, that many Douglass alumni and their descendants in Kingsport and beyond, are not members of the association.

"This was their school," Watterson said then.  "Douglass was the school years ago for all black children where we got good educations from good teachers.   To not be in its alumni association is almost a disservice."

He's also urging people to join the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association and be part of something special.

"Our alumni numbers are dwindling fast," he says.  "The alumni and their descendants need to hold on to the heritage of this school.  Once it's gone, it's gone forever.  If you lose that history, you lose part of yourself," he says.

At the board meeting on Saturday, Watterson launched a recruitment drive designed to bring more members to the alumni association.  "We want people to be part of our community," he says.  "Helping us support our programs and grow them is important for our young people.  This is their heritage, too."

In other action, the Board is making a move to focus also on fundraising.  Admiring the success of recent fish fries, board members have formed a fundraising committee.  Its goal is to come up with different interesting and fun ways of raising money for alumni programs and the board's overhead.  Board members Sandy Wilmer, Pam Sensabaugh and Thelma Watterson volunteered to be on the new fundraising arm of the alumni association.

Any suggestions from alumni and the public are welcomed by the fundraising committee.

Elsewhere, Board member Doug Releford told the group that it's time to begin thinking about continuing a special project to purchase needed items for many underprivileged children at the Lincoln School.

Last year, the alumni association applied for and received a community development block grant that it used to buy school supplies and book bags for students at the school, considered one of the poorer schools in the Kingsport city school system.  As it turns out, after Lincoln School administrators told the association what the children were having to do without, the list of supplies expanded to include snack items, clothes, shoes, and warm coats for the winter.

The association spent almost $700 dollars it received from the grant.  "Those kids were so appreciative of what they got back in the spring," Releford says.  "I really think they would have done without, if we hadn't done something for them."

"Many of those kids come from broken homes in our community, and they don't have a lot of the luxuries of other children in the school system," he says.  "Our mission has always been to help those in the community who need it, and we'll step up and do what we can this fall, so the kids at Lincoln can have the same learning opportunities as the other kids in the school system."

Andra (Puddin) Watterson, Thelma Watterson, Ozine Bly and Judy Blye are on the School Supply committee, checking into partnerships with area merchants and putting smiles on the faces of children during the upcoming cold months.

If you'd like to help, please contact the members of the committee, or at

Please check the calendar on the Douglass website's main page periodically.  You'll now be seeing upcoming events of the Alumni Association and the community that will keep you updated on what's going on in our association and the neighborhood.

The next meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association will be on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 1 PM, in the Eastman Board Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

All Douglass alumni, their descendants and anyone else are invited to attend the meeting.

If you've not ever been to a meeting, you're asked to please come and join the group.  A lot gets done, in the spirit of, and continuing the legacy of..... the Douglass High School of Kingsport.