As I think about our Organization, I’d like to say it's an honor to have served for 25 years as the Executive Director and Founder of RAY. Thanks to our current President Mark Myers who during his reign has put much effort into increasing efficiency steps to move RAY forward with ideas, resulting in timely decision-making which is important for this organization.
I owe a great amount of gratitude to our newly appointed Ambassador, Deborah Birmingham M.Ed., who has been an outstanding leader and visionary representing RAY nationally and internationally. I’m grateful to co-founder, Rev. Gloria Randolph who has shared how tragedy should be utilized as a stepping stone of strength on the journey to triumph.
Also, I say thanks to those past Presidents, Advisory Board, and Executive Board members who have worked and devoted personal resources to lend to the vision that makes RAY the strong, successful organization it is today.
As I reflect further, the Volunteers are a group with exceptional aptitude and sense of service who work tirelessly every year to accomplish our goals while contributing to the overall mission of RAY.
Founded on the God given vision the day after my son’s funeral, we at RAY have continually challenged ourselves to reclaim youth with the programs we provide. When I asked God why so many youth are being killed, he responded, “Your son’s death will be a catalyst to help save many youth and I will get the Glory from this one,”
So this tragedy was not a mystery. The vision was quite plain, but the mission seemed insurmountable and an uphill battle. Yet, the opportunity was too great, and the need to dire to ignore.
The vision became a tangible image with a mission with vivid descriptions of clear and compelling goals. The vision allowed volunteers to feel like they were part of a greater whole, and hence provided meaning for their involvement.
Never has a Bible verse come so alive and have such meaning to me than the past 25yrs. "Participating in The Building of RAY," by God, gives a penetrating picture of its meaning when Jesus explained why He had to die.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels - plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24, NIV.
A Bold Move
Therefore, 25 dedicated men and women took a bold move forward, following the leadership of a vision planted while obeying God’s direction.
I'm not the same person as when my son was alive. The decisions I make now after Steve’s death are not my decisions but decisions made by the vision that played out in my head.
While we have achieved a great deal, there is much more to do as we march toward our lofty goal. Let us move forward with passion, but also with purpose. And most of all let us be mindful of why we are supporting our beloved youth of the future. I believe the energy of this organization is firmly established through vision.
RAY is truly a vision that has saved and touched many lives by its work. We closed the year 2015 with successful program accomplishments and a scholarship gala with an attendance of 500 plus guests.
RAY’S 2016, Youth Intervention Program at Brookwood Jr. High kicked off with 80 or more students and 20 volunteers and facilitators, both men and women. Watch you Manners initiated its program for this school year at Brookwood Middle School. RAY-JAY at Bloom High School rallied 60 enthused students.
By reaching out and touching the lives of youth, young and old, our voices are being heard, our ideas are well received, and the impact of our contributions to them will be fully realized as they become productive citizens of society.
RAY has grown and flourished because of the pioneering spirit of its volunteers who have made a space and a destination for young dreamers to dream and explore their gifts, talents, and skills.
As the organization embarks on its 25th year of its storied existence, I hope you share my pride in RAY for all that it has accomplished and for its vision in moving forward.
I invite you to join us on this epic journey. As you explore this Web site, I hope you will consider becoming an active participant in shaping RAY’s future and think about the positive impact you can make through our organization. The future is ours to create. Let us write the most glorious chapter ever for Reclaim-a-Youth of Illinois.