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Local College Success Charity Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Story by Yolande Melbourne
Published 10/16/2013

Rev. Richard Smallwood, a singer, Grammy and Dove awardee and Music Hall of Fame inductee, performed at the fifth anniversary of the CEOs banquet.
College Educate Our Sons (CEOS), an organization born in the Columbia Union Conference with the goal of helping more young men graduate college, recently marked the fifth year of its founding with their Fifth Annual International Week of Hope and Inspiration for Boys and Young men. According to founder Bertram Melbourne, PhD, who pastors Potomac Conference’s Rockville and Gaithersburg churches in Maryland, the week was designed to inspire and provide education for boys and young men, parents, teachers and mentors. The organization, which seeks to increase global college graduation of young men by 50 percent in 20 years, serves as an international, multi-faith organization and clearinghouse of resources and opportunities for entities that mentor boys and young men.
The celebration began with a banquet held in Arlington, Va., with more than 100 guests in attendance. Pastor Eric Lee, the keynote speaker, a former Harlem Globetrotter and now senior pastor at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi; challenged all to learn from Peter to seize the moment; attempt the unattempted; try the untried; step out of the boat; and move forward to walk on water. He also challenged attendees to be willing to do a new thing in a new way.

Musical performances came from Rev. Richard Smallwood, a singer, Grammy and Dove awardee and Music Hall of Fame inductee; and Philmore McKenzie, who played the steel drums. Tyrone Barksdale and Jacquie Gales Webb, radio personalities from Howard University’s WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C., emceed the program. During the evening’s award ceremony, Rev. Emmy Hart received the Bridge Building International Award for work with dropout boys in Suriname; while Ronnie and Stevan Vanderhorst, founders of Prepare Our Youth, received the corporate award. Two others received Bridge Builder awards.  Morris Hudson of BROTHERS (Brothers Reaching Out to Help Each Reach Success) was recognized for outstanding work with male students at Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Md., and Weymouth Spence, EdD, president of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., for for outstanding work at the university and in the interest of young men.
At the CEOS’ Third Annual Virtual Prayer Breakfast, Henry M. Wright, featured speaker and senior pastor of Potomac’s Community Center Praise church in Alexandria, Va., shared the story of Abraham and Isaac and challenged fathers and sons to work together to advance the tasks at hand. Participants attended via telephone or webcast. A rebroadcast of this event can be found at

The festivities continued on Sabbath afternoon at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Md. Roo McKenzie, EdD, WAU’s vice president for advancement began the afternoon session with a plenary address titled “Six Steps Plus 1 for Raising Organically-Grown Boys.” Various workshops, highly credentialed speakers, followed with topics such as teachers, mentors, girls and young women and boys and young men.

The public celebrations concluded with a gospel concert in the Takoma Academy Chapel featuring talent from Takoma Academy and Howard University School of Divinity. “I am extremely pleased with the accomplishments of the weekend. God has certainly blessed,” Melbourne shared.  With this fresh endowment of inspiration, he invites participants in the weekend’s activities and readers to pour their passion and energies into making tomorrow brighter for our sons.

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