A stint at sales well worth it

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

I now have respect for anyone who has a career in advertising sales.

I have been a member of the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association Inc. since its inception in 1987.

We have been sponsoring semi-annual reunions since then and are in the process of finalizing plans for our 10th reunion to be held at the Shrine Club on Elizabeth St. the weekend of July 8-10. We will be honoring those who held or still hold careers in law enforcement, and dedicating our souvenir booklet to our past vice president, the late Clyde Bradley.

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A small body of members began meeting last fall to plan this reunion and committees were formed in March to get things rolling. We usually give college scholarships to children, grandchildren, and guardians of grandchildren of alumni students. To date our scholarship committee has awarded more than $34,000 in scholarships. A big portion of these funds comes from our souvenir booklet that we publish at each reunion.

A separate scholarship is sponsored and funded by Maurice Biggs, which began in 1999. The award goes to a deserving student who graduated from the Suffolk Public School System. To date this scholarship has awarded more than $4,000.

My challenge began when I was elected to serve as chairman of the advertising committee. As the chairman, I wanted to do an excellent job. Therefore, I sought the advice of Earl Jones, the advertising manager here at the paper.

We had spaces to sell as follows: one-fourth page, $25; one half page, $50; and full page, $100. Jones told me that the first thing I had to do was to believe in my product, inform the client who will be exposed to his ad, tell the client what the importance of his ad being in our booklet will mean and to reassure them that if they bought an ad, it will be money well spent.

In April I had a meeting in my home with my committee to assign clients from previous booklets. Instead of a couple of days, I ended up selling 14 spaces in one week while seeking new clients. I then wondered how Jones and the employees under his leadership could sell sometimes well over 10 ads in one day totaling hundreds of dollars. I was still proud of my accomplishment of raising $700 and want to thank my committee and everyone who bought an ad from us for your support. Each person or business that bought an ad will be receiving a free booklet.

Other students who attended the former Booker T. Washington High School, and the public are invited to celebrate along with us. A special invitation is being extended to the Suffolk Police Department because we will also be recognizing those officers who lost their lives while on duty. Each activity except the Honor Prayer Breakfast recognizing law enforcement officers and Bradley will be $35. The breakfast will be $10.

The full activity schedule is as follows: On Friday, July 8 from 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m., the Dinner Dance will take place with Benford Hunter Jr. serving as DJ; on Saturday, July 9 beginning at 10 a.m., the Honor Prayer Breakfast with Clyde Fisher (Basehorn), a graduate in the class of 1958, serving as guest speaker, will be held.

A business meeting for alumni members only will follow; also on Saturday at 7 p.m. alumni members and guests will gather at Booker T. Washington Elementary School on Walnut Street to depart to Portsmouth for a boat ride aboard the Carrie B from 9:30 p.m.-1 a.m. On Sunday, July 10 at 11 a.m. a worship service will be held at the Shrine Club with the Rev. Edward Gardner, a graduate in the class of 1960, serving as guest minister. The final event, a picnic, will be held immediately following the service.

Our final alumni meeting will be held at 1 p.m. at the Boosters Lodge on East Washington Street. Virginia Barnes is the president of the association. For more information she can be reached at 539-9359.

Remember, the reunion will not be a s-ccess without (u). Therefore, we are looking forward to seeing you for a weekend of fun and celebration in three weeks.

Evelyn Wall is a regular columnist for the News-Herald.