Some good out of the bad
It happens way too often. We hear about it almost daily, someone’s life taken by the hands of another.
This happened 20 years ago.
It was summer 1993: a promising young high school graduate and his dreams came to an end with the sound of a single gunshot. He was murdered by the hand of a fellow youth in an attempted carjacking. Ironically, this slaying unfortunately echoed in the words and fears of the victim, 17-year-old Wahid Abdullah, the oldest son of Muslim immigrants from Africa’s Ivory Coast.
Wahid worked two jobs and maintained above-average grades in school and found the time to pursue his athletic interests on various school sports teams, especially wrestling. Shortly before his passing, he had entered and won a local oratorical contest. His speech, entitled “A Calling to Youth: Restore the Sacredness of Human Life – Stop the Violence,” called out to African-Americans to end youth violence and regain a 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 – just a nice kid. I had enough and even though working in the news media – we were not to get involved – but I couldn’t help myself.
So to keep his memory alive, I – along with some friends who had enough also – helped to establish the Wahid Abdullah Memorial Fund through the African-American Community Fund of The Dayton Foundation. We had donations from everyone, held fundraisers at the old Joker’s Comedy Café and anytime I was offered a fee for a speaking engagement I would add it to the fund.
I am proud to say now that we have $25,000 in the Wahid Abdullah Fund and are able to award $1,000 each year. Since 1997, we’ve awarded over $7,500 in scholarships to help Montgomery County high school graduates pursue their education. As part of the process, seniors are asked to write an essay and meet certain criteria which are then presented to a committee. I along with my good friends, former Director Foundation at DP&L Ginny Strausburg and 2 News Chief Photographer Kris Sproles, chose a nice young man from the Dayton Regional STEM School, Da’Montae Quincy. While the seniors rehearsed their graduation ceremony at Kettering Fairmont, I surprised him with a $1,000 scholarship.
“I was shocked that I won the $1,000 because I applied to so many scholarships because college is really expensive and to tell you the truth, I forgot about this particular one,” Quincy said.
Quincy describes himself as a very interesting person who likes to entertain friends, enjoys company and getting involved with his school’s community. He has two brothers and three sisters and a few good friends he considers siblings. And just like Wahid, 20 years earlier, he’s a kid enjoying summer before college.
“I hang out with friends; we go to movies, malls, parties, the average cool teen things,” Quincy said. But he gives back, too. “I volunteer at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Mary Scott’s Nursing Home and St. Vincent’s Food Pantry. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Da’Montae is heading to college in the fall.
“I will attend the great Bowling Green majoring in journalism. I am excited for the college life, both academic and social,” Quincy said.
But like life, challenges lie ahead.
“The biggest one is maintaining an excellent academic streak. This includes keeping up good grades, extracurricular activities and other school stuff,” Quincy said.
It’s weird to think that when Wahid’s life ended, Quincy’s hadn’t yet begun. And as he learns more about the scholarship’s namesake, this young man takes time to reflect.
“It seems like it happens so often, we just go on living our lives not really caring or allowing it to affect us. Because of the news and everyday life, it seems a part of the society we live in,” Quincy said. And his thoughts on violence in today’s society: “It’s hard to say because when it comes down to all the violence in the world, you wouldn’t expect a young person to be the victim.”
And that’s the sad fact, you hear of another young life snuffed out needlessly every day. Our wish is maybe future leaders like this young man can do something about it, where we have failed. Quincy said it best: “It’s as simple as stop the violence, nothing less.”
When we began the fund, almost 30 to 40 youngsters applied. This year was an all time low – only five applicants. So, if you’re interested in picking up a cool $1,000 for college, see below.
For more information on the Wahid Abdullah Memorial Fund founded by Jim Bucher through the African-American Community Fund of The Dayton Foundation, just visit daytonfoundation.org/aacfunds.html. If you would like to apply next year, visit the Dayton Foundation’s new ScholarshipCONNECT System by logging on to daytonfoundation.org/apply.html. Also, visit the foundation’s website for many more scholarship opportunities.
For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.