Sat. Jun 25th, 2022
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If you have not met Jackie Lyons-White, let’s just say that she is nothing less than a force of nature. If anyone can help restore some sense of “normal” to the county, it might be Lyons-White and her board members. Recently, she announced that BACA is bringing back their fundraising events this fall.

So Lyons-White, the founder of Bertie Alumni Community Association, is leading the charge to get their programs back on track post-pandemic. You might also know the association as BACA Educational and Community Outreach.

Let’s Start at the Beginning, When Jackie Lyons-White Formed This Non-Profit Group

Here’s an overview of what BACA brings to the table for those unfamiliar with the Bertie Alumni Community Association.

Although Lyons-White moved away from Bertie County and worked a long career in public service with the Durham Public Schools and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, she carried a love for her home community in her heart. She remained concerned about the economic conditions, lack of resources, and joblessness. But most of all, she felt concerned for the children of Bertie County, many of whom have few paths to pursuing higher education.

Throughout 2010, Lyons-White began brainstorming about how she could help create opportunities for the youth of Bertie County. At the same time, she reconnected with several other Bertie High School graduates who wanted to start an all-class alumni group to enjoy social get-togethers and help improve the community.

Lyons-White and her fellow Falcons knew that they could build a coalition of citizens who could address all these needs if they worked together. They formed a Board of Directors and recruited volunteers by the end of 2010. Then they formally registered the non-profit with both the IRS, the North Carolina Secretary of State, and the Bertie County Register of Deeds by February of 2011.

Once the BACA crew put their minds to funding college scholarships, they were off and running. In fact, they awarded their first $2000 college scholarships in 2011, shortly after formally organizing their non-profit. From there, they blossomed, growing year over year, before hitting the 2020 bump in the road that we call the coronavirus. But Jackie Lyons-White and the BACA board plans to bounce back strong and have big goals for the future.

The BACA Mission Statement

As provided by BACA founder Jackie Lyons-White, this is the BACA mission statement:

The mission of the Bertie Alumni Community Association (BACA) is to provide to youth that is at-risk and has hardship in the Bertie County community. BACA will offer programs and activities, educational services and support, and mentorship to empower and uplift the youths, and their families in the community. BACA will continue to be a premier non-profit charitable organization to provide a variety of services for shaping the present and future generations in Bertie County. BACA will continue doing business, fundraisers , events, community days as BACA Educational and Community Outreach. (BACA) will also carry out these missions through providing educational services through leadership in technical assistance, career days, planning program management and development, evening and weekend programs, scholarships, health and wellness, and community services to increase self-sufficiency for the sake of alleviating poverty in Bertie County

Bertie Alumni Community Association Mission Statement

How BACA Helps Bertie County

Bertie Alumni Community Association fundraises primarily via membership dues and by putting on excellent community events and entertainment, with the proceeds going to fund their efforts. The labor to bring all these events to life comes from the BACA executive, board members, and members throughout the community.

Some of the past (and upcoming) events Jackie Lyons-White and her Board have organized include these:

  • Car shows
  • Charity motorcycle rides
  • Seafood and street festivals
  • Step shows
  • Charity basketball games
  • Clothing drives
  • Food truck rallies
  • Alumni gatherings
  • Local vendor showcases
  • Adult prom
  • Dinner dances
  • Alumni homecoming weekend
  • Parades
  • All-class reunion events
  • Comedy shows
BACA Alumni King and Queen, 2019; photo used with express written consent.

Besides awarding college scholarship funds, here are some other blessings BACA has bestowed on Bertie County residents in the past years:

  • Hosting career day events to allow local students to consider available opportunities
  • Back to school events
  • Collecting school supply donations
  • Christmas giveaways
  • Disaster relief efforts after weather disasters (most recently, the 2020 Morning Road tornado)
  • Distribution of winter clothes, hats, and gloves
  • Literacy advocacy, helping people who need a little assistance completing paperwork

Who Else Is Involved With BACA?

Lyons-White could not make this vast an impact on the community alone. She’s quick to tell you that her “heart resides in Bertie County,” but her career and life landed her in Durham. So she heaps praise on her Board of Directors, who make the outreach efforts possible here in Bertie County.

The BACA executive committee and board members include these individuals:

  • Ms. Jackie Lyons-White, President, Class of 1981
  • Mr. Frank Mitchell, Vice President, Class of 1975
  • Ms. Carla Peterson, Secretary, Class of 1984
  • Ms. Alicia Small, Treasurer, Class of 1975
  • Ms. Sheila Lee, Accountant, Class of 1975
  • Mr. Norman Cherry, Jr., Class of 1985
  • Mr. Rickey Freeman, Class of 1979
  • Mr. Alice Lyons, Class of 1975
  • Mr. Charles Johnson, Class of 1978
  • Mr. Ronald Rascoe, Class of 1987
  • Mr. James Spivey, Class of 1997
Jackie Lyons-White BACA Board
BACA Board Members; photo used with express written consent by BACA

What’s Next for Jackie Lyons-White and the BACA Team?

Now that we are *writer crosses fingers* emerging from the global pandemic, Lyons-White and BACA are looking forward to the future.

Big plans for social events and fundraisers are in the works, as Lyons-White announced on Facebook recently.

Upcoming community events include the following:

  • Comedy show, planned for October 22, 2021, directly after the Homecoming Game. Join BACA at Chief’s Sports Bar in Windsor and enjoy comedy by Bertie alumni Cee Breezy and the Sweetz Comedy Club comedians from New Jersey. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
  • Homecoming parade, scheduled for Saturday, October 23, 2021, at 10 am. The parade starts in the big field near Wilder’s Funeral, 222 S. Granville Street, Windsor, and runs along York Avenue and Dundee Streets, ending by the courthouse. BACA will publish the exact route on Facebook, so be sure to check it out before you head out. Here’s the information for entering a float in the parade. In the event of rain, the parade will postpone until 2 pm that day.
  • A food truck and vendor rally, scheduled for Saturday, October 23, 2021, from noon until 4 pm, at Cashie Convention Center. Entertainment will include music by DJ Smoothz, family-friendly activities, and live performances while you enjoy lunch. Vendors will include local merchants from around the area selling retail items, food, handcrafts, and other goodies. To join the fun as a food truck or vendor, register using this form.
  • Adult prom, scheduled for December 4. 2021, at the Bertie High School gym. This event is a “reboot” from the postponement due to COVID-19. Walk the red carpet at 6 pm and enjoy dinner, a live band, dancing, and prizes. More information is forthcoming on the BACA Facebook page.

An Important Survey Underway:

Finally, Jackie Lyons-White is currently surveying to assess interest in attending an Alumni Dinner Dance on the evening of Saturday, October 23, 2021. If you would want to attend this event, please send her a private message on Facebook to indicate your interest.

BACA membership form
Are you interested in joining BACA? Right-click, do a file “save as,” then print the form using the “fit to page” setting to print and complete your application.

BACA’s Next Goal, the Bertie Alumni Center

Currently, the BACA team does not have a designated office or permanent location. They work out of the school or the Bertie County YMCA when they call meetings. In addition to raising scholarship monies and serving the imminent needs of the community, they also plan to fundraise to find their own space, which they will call the Bertie Alumni Center.

Of course, Bertie News will update our community event calendar to keep you updated in case of changes.

Indeed, these projects are all enormous undertakings. But the future of Bertie County looks brighter with the support of Jackie Lyons-White and the entire BACA team.

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