On The Beat: 1/24

A calling to youth

Wahid Abdullah Memorial Fund continues to help college-bound students

By Jim Bucher

I think about Wahid Abdullah all the time. His image, as an 18-year-old heading to Ohio State University on a full ride, is etched in my memory.

If he had lived, today this young man would be approaching his 42nd birthday, and I’m sure married with kids and a successful career and life.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards. The events surrounding his tragic death are as clear as an HD image.

During the summer of 1993, a young high school graduate and his dreams came to an abrupt end: a teenager killed him in an attempted carjacking.

Wahid, the 17-year-old victim, the oldest son of Muslim immigrants from Africa’s Ivory Coast, worked two jobs and maintained above-average grades in school and still found the time to pursue his athletic interests, like wrestling. He also found time to enter and win a local speech contest shortly before his death.

His speech, “A Calling to Youth: Restore the Sacredness of Human Life—Stop the Violence,” urged African-Americans to work together to end youth violence and reinstill a collective sense of religious harmony.

I met Wahid while shooting a story on a neighborhood grocery store in the Five Oaks Neighborhood of Dayton. He impressed me with his politeness and demeanor.

After his passing, I had to do something.

I, along with some friends who had also had enough, established the Wahid Abdullah Memorial Fund through the African-American Community Fund of The Dayton Foundation.

Everyone seemed to pitch in. We hosted fundraisers at the old Joker’s Comedy Café, and I added money to the fund whenever I was offered a fee for a speaking engagement. As longtime On the Beat readers might recall, we raised $25,000 for the Wahid Abdullah Fund to award $1000 every year.

When we began the fund, 30 to 40 youngsters applied. Last year was an all-time low: we only got six applicants.

I’m at a loss because last I looked, college ain’t cheap, every little bit helps. My friends at the Dayton Foundation are perplexed, too. They tell me they’re up in applications, but individual applications are fewer than in the past.

They advertise to get the word out that this and other scholarship funds are available.

So, are youngsters too busy? You know you can apply on your mobile device. (See: the end of this column.)

One of our scholarship winners a couple years back, Da’Montae Quincy, had this to say: “I was shocked that I won the $1000 because I applied to so many scholarships because college is really expensive, and to tell you the truth, I forgot about this particular one.”

Well, I, for one, am happy you remembered, my friend. I encourage you, my wonderful readers, if you, or your child, grandchild, niece or nephew is approaching college, to check out our scholarship fund and the many, many others at The Dayton Foundation.

“We are so fortunate to help people who want to do good things for our community through the establishment of charitable funds at The Dayton Foundation. Sometimes, there is a tragic story behind why a fund was created, such as the story of Wahid Abdullah. Perpetuating Wahid’s beliefs through this scholarship continues to give his life meaning and provides hope for other students who share a love for learning. We’re honored to help facilitate that and be good stewards of his and the more than 3,500 Dayton Foundation funds,” says Michael Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation.

“The Dayton Foundation is proud to support the work of the African-American Community Fund, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It’s Board of Directors, volunteers, and donors are making a positive impact in our community that will benefit generations to come,” he adds.

I’m proud to be connected to such a wonderful organization founded by John Patterson of NCR fame. He was looking out for future leaders and assisting with their education.

Now, if we can just get college-bound kids to take advantage.

Cheers and apply today!

For more information on the Wahid Abdullah Memorial Fund founded by Jim Bucher through the African-American Community Fund of The Dayton Foundation, please visit DaytonFoundation.org.

If you would like to apply, please visit the Dayton Foundation’s new ScholarshipCONNECT System by logging on to
www.daytonfoundation.org/scholars.html.

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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