NAACP tries to boost its strength in Washington County

February 18, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - As the NAACP approaches its 100th anniversary next year, local leaders are working to reinvigorate the organization's shrinking local chapter with new programs and membership drives, Washington County branch president Samuel A. Key said.

"We can only be as strong as those of you who come and participate," Key told the group that gathered for a black history program Sunday.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, remains a key player in the struggle to right society's wrongs, Key said.

However, membership in the Washington County chapter has dropped to about 50 people from more than triple that number a few years ago, Key said. Some members moved away, others lost interest, and the organization lost many of its younger members when its youth program was discontinued about two years ago, Key said.


Now, the chapter has most of the pieces in place to re-establish a reading club targeting middle-school boys, he said. The chapter has organized places to meet and people to lead the group, Key said.

Eventually, he also hopes to re-establish a "College and You" program for high school students, he added.

The chapter also is looking to team up with other local organizations to pool resources, Key said. Already, the area's churches are deeply involved with the organization, and two church youth choirs sang at Sunday's event. Key said he hoped the other local churches would participate in the organization's Freedom Fund banquet, scheduled for the third Saturday in August.

Meanwhile, leaders continue to stress the importance of supporting the local chapter, not just the national organization, Key said. Local donations will benefit the national organization, but the same is not necessarily true in reverse, he said.

"We are the bloodline to the national group," he said.

County residents may join the Washington County branch of the NAACP by filling out an application and paying a $30 membership fee, Key said. There is also a lifetime membership option, he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles