Pittsburgh has suffered two gigantic loses in the past three weeks in the deaths of Rev. Delano Paige and Sylvester Pace, president and CEO of NEED.
Reverend Paige wasn’t just a preacher who served one church, Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church for 24 years; he was a community leader and innovator of various programs at Rodman, which the total community benefited from.
Rodman didn’t become a mega church under his leadership but it became a much larger caring church.
Rev. Paige was one of the nicest men you would ever want to meet and he led by example. It’s one thing to talk the talk but he walked the walk.
The contributions of men are not always the things they do, and he did a lot. But the most important contribution he made to Pittsburgh was just being himself. He was an example to all, a kind, caring man who always had a kind word to say about others, whose sermons were always geared toward the glass being half full instead of half empty. Any young man or old man who saw Rev. Paige saw a positive role model. He was a breath of fresh air, and I didn’t know him that well.
Sylvester Pace led in another way. The most critical struggle in the Black community today is education. There’s a lot of concern about dropouts and other problems in high school, but none of that means anything if a child does all he needs to do to get through high school then comes to that devastating reality when he decides to go to college and finds he doesn’t have the money.
Even though he’s working and saving money, it’s not enough. All the money his parents have scrapped together is not enough. But here comes NEED, to save the day.
Pace devoted his life to making sure young people who were willing to put in the work needed to go to college were not turned away because of money.
NEED did not provide full scholarships but the $500 here, $1000 there that helps struggling students tremendously. That NEED money was the difference between a student going or not going, a student being able to stay or having to drop out of college.
In many cases we take organizations like NEED for granted because we don’t realize just how important they are to the survival and growth of the Black community. Pace’s death forced me to take a harder look at NEED. This is an organization that every Black person, every Black business, every Black church, every Black denomination should be contributing to and other organizations like it.
Just imagine what NEED could do if rich athletes and entertainers made this a priority in their life with the rest of us. Instead of only giving a student $500 it could be $1500 or $5000 or even a full scholarship.
Hopefully whoever they get to replace him will continue his legacy because far too often when a great man dies, his dreams die with him because there’s no one to carry on.
He did more in the past 10 years than most of us will do in a lifetime. My suggestion is to all the people and organizations that mourned him, and said what a great man he was is to donate to NEED. I recommend you get your friends to donate to NEED, to get your business to donate to NEED, and even get your family to donate to NEED.
If we are to grow we must do it ourselves instead of always depending on others.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)