May 2020 Volume 16

The Fortis Covid-19 Primetime Event

Winston ‘Ras’ Henry
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Covid-19 is sweeping across the land. The ravages of the disease are forcing the cancellations of numerous events. The fundraising activities of KCOBA USA Inc. were not spared. Several fundraising events were canceled and it is likely that the rest may suffer the same fate.

Each year the proceeds from these activities assist Kingston College with scholarships, the nutrition program, care packs, and sports equipment. The raising of funds for the ongoing Capital Campaign geared towards completion of the Douglas Forest Building, which will house the Library and Technology Lab, would also become more onerous. Apart from the concerns caused by the pandemic, the questions on everyone’s mind were how do we engage the Fortis Family?

How we could raise funds when people cannot gather in large crowds? How would this shortfall affect the operations at our beloved alma mater? We had to find an answer and quickly.

We did.

In collaboration with the other Old Boys associations, the result was us airing the Fortis Covid-19 Primetime Event on April 30th. The event went well and allowed us to launch the Fortis Covid-19 Relief Effort. Even though Fortis and our supporters may miss the joy of pressing the flesh, our sincere hope is that the love of the institution will prompt many to visit our site and help us make up the shortfall.

HTTP://KCOBAUSA.ORG/COVID19RELIEF

The year had started out with NY president Perry Bloomfield, his executives and fellow board members looking forward to a slew of events. However, this was not to be. All the following fundraising events were cancelled; our Annual Reunion and Awards Dinner and the Boat Cruise. Roper Cup USA set for September 12 and our 28th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser & Dance scheduled for October 17th are in jeopardy of being abandoned for this year also. Other critical events on our calendar such as Champs and Penn Relays were canceled by the respective authorities, thereby robbing us of the opportunity to have our 11th Annual Panel Presentation & Awards Ceremony at KC on the Thursday of Champs.

We also lost the chance to host our athletes, who would have travelled for Penn Relays, at the annual Penn Relays’ BBQ held in New York.

Additionally, it is quite possible that KCOBA Florida’s huge Annual Big Purple Session event, which is held every first Saturday in October, could become a casualty of the Covid-19 disease. This would be a real blow as this event is the largest gathering of Kingston College supporters outside of Jamaica. The prospect of this cancellation is daunting.

By the beginning of April, most people deemed non-essential workers were working from home. Teleconferencing became more prevalent as a way of conducting business. Fellow board members Royland Gordon and Dwayne Montaque came up with the idea of us putting together a town hall style video conferencing event to reach out to Fortis supporters the world over. President Perry charged us to form a committee to get this done. A committee of about seven was formed. Several obstacles were encountered and yielded to our Fortis persistence.

Eventually it was time for primetime. We were nervous but ready!

The event opened with President Perry Bloomfield welcoming all, acknowledging the panelists, and stating the reasons for the event. The KC choir then took center stage.

The Rev. Canon Calvin McIntyre, OD, delivered the opening prayer. He mentioned the known Fortis brothers who had succumbed to the disease. He was followed by Alton Brown and Everton Howell. They were captivating in relating their harrowing experience with the disease.

Dr. Norman Smith came next and provided perspective on the conventional medical theory concerning symptoms and available approaches for dealing with the disease.

Dr. Glen Laman followed and gave information from an economic impact perspective as to how to access current government assistance and other things relating to personal and business finance.

A video celebrating Kingston College 95 years of excellence was then shown to introduce the chairman of KC Board of Governors.

Chairman Michael Vaccianna spelled out the current situation of how the presence of the virus was disrupting the school. He anticipated much pain going forward.

Principal Dave Myrie followed the chairman. The principal was thorough. He highlighted the current difficulties facing boys, who had inadequate resources such as access to computers and available internet connection, trying to learn remotely. He anticipated that a large percentage of the boys may need extra time to catch up when school resumed. With that in mind, he expected to extend the school day in order to increase teaching hours. While he did not expect any increase in the roughly 30% of the school’s expenses provided by the Ministry of Education, he expected a significant shortfall in parent’s contribution as many parents were facing unemployment. He therefore saw the need for a concentrated effort to be made by stakeholders to help the school in this regard. His direct presentation may be viewed at the link below.

President Bloomfield thanked all for attending. He reminded the audience that the school needed the help and announced an anonymous old boy’s challenge of a $20,000.00 matching funds pledge to the COVID-19 Relief Effort. He implored all to join in meeting and exceeding the $20,000.00 challenge.

The event was closed with another video from the KC choir and a final prayer from Rev. Fr. Michael Brown.

We had done it! The intended balance was struck. We had empathized, soothed, informed and reminded everyone of the dire need for fundraising for the ‘College’. Fortuitously, the forum facilitated the launch of a FORTIS COVID-19 Relief Effort.

This was immediately met with several attendees making pledges to the Relief Effort. The consensus from the fraternity and even neutral persons who participated had nothing but high praises for the Fortis Covid-19 Primetime Event. I had invited people from other schools to tune-in, and they were all impressed. As a matter of fact, a stalwart Calabar old boy called me immediately after the program to commend Kingston College for doing such a great service to the community.

I think KCOBA International has raised the bar yet again even during quite difficult circumstances.

Fortis Forever!

Winston ‘Ras’ Henry

Class of 1975

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