Dear Rochester Community:
I had the pleasure of meeting Congressman John Lewis in 2014 when he was the guest speaker at the Rochester EOC graduation celebration. I volunteered to pick him up from the airport as I knew that this would be a great opportunity to meet and have a personal conversation with him. On the day of graduation I arrived at the airport early. As I waited to greet him I suddenly became anxious. I expected there to be security and an entourage for this man who was a trailblazer and who was held in such high esteem. Yet, as I spotted him, I could not believe that he was traveling by himself. I soon learned through our conversations over the next two days that this was how he lived his life: as an unassuming individual that fought tirelessly for change through his actions and words. He was not there to be recognized, but to make change and impact.
The two days that I spent with Congressman Lewis was one of the best experiences of my life. I was with a civil rights icon that I had read about in books. Hearing from him directly about some of the trials he encountered throughout the Civil Rights movement made me appreciate him even more.
His address to the students during the Rochester EOC graduation ceremony was compelling, inspirational and real. He inspired and reminded our students of their civic responsibility to “get in good trouble” for the good of humankind. After the graduation, I escorted him to REOC for a reception for our students so he could connect with them personally. Many students, staff, community members, and leaders were present to meet Congressman Lewis. Included in the crowd were the nurses who saved his life after his historic crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge during Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965. This was the first time he saw the nurses since Bloody Sunday. It was a moving night. Congressman Lewis’ connection to the REOC was fostered through our former nursing faculty member Sister Barbara Lum, a Sister of Selma, who medically tended to Congressman Lewis.
The next day after we had breakfast, I intentionally took a longer route when it was time to transport Congressman Lewis at the airport. I did not want to end this amazing experience. After meeting him personally and spending some time with him, I can honestly say that he was one of the most courageous people I have ever met. Congressman Lewis was steadfast in his message throughout the years, and tirelessly fought for the rights of others. I am honored to have met him, and grateful that he took time to speak at our graduation ceremony. The world is without a great man, but his legacy will live on through the lives of others.
Dr. Roosevelt Mareus
July 2, 2020
We are saddened by the loss of Assemblymember David Gantt. He was a great and longtime supporter of the Rochester EOC.
I met with Assemblymember Gantt countless times to seek his guidance and support. His unending commitment to the growth of people and building community enabled the Rochester EOC to purchase and move to the new Center at 161 Chestnut Street.
A few years ago, we celebrated 50 years of transforming lives in Rochester and the surrounding communities. We honored Assemblymember Gantt with the REOC Legacy of Leadership Award. This award was given to Assemblymember Gantt to recognize his work in advocating for those who can’t speak for themselves and organizations such as REOC that are improving lives and communities. While he was very appreciative of the award, he reminded me that he did not fight for the underserved for the recognition. He did it because he wanted to level the playing field, and make a difference.
Assemblymember Gantt understood that education was a powerful means to success that could help move individuals from poverty to self-sufficiency. Therefore, he valued the Rochester EOC for providing innovative programs to over 1,300 students annually. He recognized that we also support the community as a whole through Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (A.T.T.A.I.N) and numerous community offerings.
Graduates, it is up to us now to carry on his legacy and transform our communities by being involved and supporting each other.
We will miss Assemblymember Gantt. We honor his legacy and mourn his loss alongside his family, friends, colleagues and the people of Rochester and New York State.
June 1, 2020
Dear REOC Community:
I hope all is well.
As we all are aware of the current unrest both locally and nationally, I wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you, and our counselors are available.
Based on what transpired across our community this weekend, it is clear that our community is in so much pain. Yesterday, as I joined many others to assist with the healing process, it was evident that we had more in common than we had differences.
Please be encouraged and know that the only way we can overcome the pain is by staying connected and talking to each other.
Please let me know how I can assist.
April 13, 2020
Dear REOC Students:
I hope all is well.
This letter is to encourage you to hang in there and let you know that I am thinking about you.
Before we made the transition from face-to-face lessons to alternative delivery instruction, I met with most of you and shared that we would get through this time together.
I remember that a few years ago, when I was in my PhD program, I encountered some unexpected obstacles. In order to overcome those obstacles I had two options: either give up or press on. I chose the latter. I pressed on and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
With the end of the academic year around the corner, the pressure continues to increase. Please continue to do your best and contact us immediately if you need assistance. I know this transition has not been an easy one. Yet you have continued to press on with your education and I am proud of you.
Please remain safe and continue to practice social distancing. Remember, we are all in this together.
Be encouraged! The best is yet to come!
Dr. Roosevelt Mareus