The UMCOR anniversary planning commission members are, from left: Keith Lewis, Terry Smith, Ethel Lee, Vergie Richard, Idella Stevenson, Brenda Thomas, Sherise Henry and Benny Druilhet. Not Pictured are David Thompson, Violet Thompson, Jennifer Lanceslin, Maviola Phillips, James Armelin Jr. and Amy Fuselier.
Sacred memories recalled at UMCOR Sager Brown
By SHERISE HENRY
The grounds of UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin have been blessed with spirit led people with a mission to educate, house, feed and most of all nurture, the souls that have crossed its path.
Many are a testament to the unselfish acts of administrators, staff and teachers who have grown its legacy. Topping the list of witnesses to such character are Sager Brown students.
Before becoming a supply depot that reaches those in need globally. UMCOR has a history as Sager Brown School, an orphanage and learning center to those who were fortunate enough to receive training there.
This month, UMCOR Sager Brown is celebrating 150 years of service in a Homecoming Reunion for all administrators, staff, teachers, students and volunteers who have crossed its path over the years.
Among those celebrated will be some of the elders in the Baldwin community who have rich stories to tell of their Sager Brown experience.
Ninety-four-year old Susie Mae Lewis is one such person. She recalls the life lessons her training brought her.
“I went to Sager Brown from the third grade to the tenth grade and when I left Sager Brown, I had enough credits to finish high school,” Lewis said. “Those were the good ole days. We used to have Mayday at Sager Brown. We would plant the Maypole and there were ribbons that we used to wrap it. We had children attend Sager Brown from all over the state, teachers too, we all got along fine.”
One of the life lessons Lewis remembers learning at her beloved alma mater is work ethic. Lewis said along with studying, her job was to help out in the school cafeteria.
“I was a cook”, Lewis said. “Sager Brown was my second home, we were a family. I felt safe”
Eliza Collins, 84, of Baldwin also attended Sager Brown School. She said although she only spent one year on campus as a student, the faculty and students of the school were a rich part of her childhood memories.
“I only attended ninth grade at Sager Brown, but I have so many good memories of the people there because as a member of Trinity United Methodist Church, they would come to services for Sunday school and join church and sing in the choir so I knew them well,” Collins said.
Also on the list of local alumni is Ocie Carline Napolean, a current resident of Jeanerette. She said one of her best memories as a young adult came from joining extracurricular activities at Sager Brown.
“It was a very interesting school. We had sports and a glee club which I belonged to, one of my favorite times was when we got an invite from Southern University to perform there and we won second place for a song called ‘Listen to the Lamb,” Napoleon recalled. “Attending Sager Brown gave me a great head start in my education. My parents only had to pay a dollar a month for me to go there. In order to get there I had to walk. I would get up, prepare breakfast for the family and then I went to school.”
All three alumnists agree that faith and values were a big part of their education experience.
“Christianity was a big part of our school life. They taught us how to love one another,” Napoleon said. “If children today were coming up in the times we were coming up, they would learn a lot. Like discipline, we wouldn’t talk back to the teacher or no elderly person. I came from the old school.”
UMCOR Sager Brown’s 150th Homecoming Reunion is set to take place Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All former faculty students and volunteers are invited to attend. The day’s list of activities is as follows:
10-11 a.m. Parade
11 a.m.-Noon Welcome and Occasion
Noon-1 p.m. Campus history tour and dedication of museum
1-2 p.m. Lunch served
2-2:30 p.m. Wrapping of Maypole
2:20-3:30 p.m. Campus history tour/slide show and video
3:30-4:30 p.m. Entertainment
4:30-5:30 p.m. Refreshments and fellowship
9 a.m. Sunday morning worship service at Trinity United Methodist Church