PIQUA – Bob Fairchild stressed the importance of reaching young people and helping them be successful as he visited Piqua for the 28th annual Achievement Week Celebration for the Xi Iota Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Fairchild, who serves as the adviser to the fraternity’s grand basileus and as international chairman on fatherhood and mentoring, was the keynote speaker at the chapter’s Achievement Week Scholarship Banquet on Saturday evening at the Piqua Country Club.
“I think everybody should be concerned about the next generation, the future,” Fairchild said. “You’ve got to pay something forward, and that’s the whole part of this whole thing. Pass it down, pass it so the next generation knows how to survive.”
As part of its effort to pay it forward, the Xi Iota Iota Chapter of the fraternity presented four high school students – Sidney’s Cedric Johnson, Piqua’s Trenton Riley, Troy’s Kevin B. Walters II and Lima’s Jayden Donald – with $1,000 scholarships.
Johnson is enrolled in Advanced Placement and College Credit Plus classes through Edison State Community College and has a 3.8 GPA. The high school junior also plays quarterback for the Yellow Jackets’ football team and point guard for the boys basketball team.
The Sidney High School student volunteers at his church, Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ, going on mission trips around the country. He also works part-time at Hardee’s and enjoys playing AAU basketball and lifting weights.
Johnson plans to attend college in the future. He’s undecided on his major but has interest in becoming a doctor or a lawyer.
Fairchild commended the chapter for its scholarship outreach but said the fraternity, which has 750 chapters around the world, should strive to reach all young people.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure that we encourage young people in general, across the board,” said Fairchild, a former grand keeper of records and seal for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. “We always recognize those individuals who excel, but we want to get them all because we want to have more kids excelling.”
Fairchild has served as international chairman of the fraternity’s fatherhood and mentoring initiatives and worked to involve Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in former President Barack Obama’s fatherhood and mentoring initiative. He worked with the White House and members of Congress in the efforts.
“Let’s take that next step,” Fairchild said. “You’ve got this, this is good, outstanding. Let’s take that next step. Let’s really reach out into that community. Let’s really go after those kids that might never see a scholarship. Let’s go out and reach those kids.”
Fairchild has been a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for 55 years and received guidance from members prior to joining the organization. His parents were actively involved in his life, he said, but the fraternity’s mentoring still was beneficial in guiding him on the path to success.
“I knew of fraternity brothers, but I didn’t realize what it was all about,” Fairchild said. “I had several fraternity brothers help me out when I was a youngster, coaching me, talking to me, giving me direction about things, but I didn’t really understand.”
Fairchild went on to become a colonel in the United States Army. He served as an armor officer with tours in Germany, Vietnam and the U.S. and received an Army Commendation Medal, two Bronze Stars for Valor, a Purple Heart and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
After returning from Vietnam, Fairchild transferred to the Adjutant Generals Corps and was assigned as the first black staff bands officer in the U.S. Army. He commanded the U.S. Armed Forces School of Music and also served as deputy chief of staff for personnel for the military district of Washington.
The Fairfax, Virginia, resident earned a Bachelors of Music Education degree from Lincoln University and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Golden Gate University. He’s retired from Xerox Corp.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity has reached thousands of people like him, Fairchild said, but still can do more to reach young men.
“If you don’t give them something, they’ll find something,” he said. “It’s better for them to find the right thing than the wrong thing.”
Once leaders reach young people, such as the scholarship recipients, they need to continue mentoring them and guiding them toward success, Fairchild said.
“Once we start hooking into students, once we start hooking into the young people, we want to track them all until they’re successful out here as young men,” he said.
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