Guam Society Recognized as Outstanding State/Territorial Society by NCSS

Mr. Bill Christian, President of the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS), presided over the revived NCSS Roy C. Haines Award ceremony on Saturday, November 16, 2013 in Silver Springs, MD.  Bill provided an overview of the NCSS and its role as the overarching organization for the various state and territorial societies in Washington, DC.  Bill stated that many of the societies grew from social/political clubs/organizations benefitting the various states and territory expatriates who had migrated to the nation’s capital to work for their respective congressional delegations.  The societies served as a ‘home away from home’ for those who came to DC, if even for a short time or eventually remained in the national capital region.  The NCSS grew out of these traditional groups, culminating in the signing of the NCSS Congressional Charter by President Truman in 1952.  The NCSS has sponsored the Cherry Blossom Princess Program since 1948 and continues to do so today.

The Roy C. Haines Award was named after Roy C. Haines, a native of Ellsworth, Maine and the senior staff member for a U.S. Representative from Maine who chaired one of the major committees of the House of Representatives in the late 1940s and 1950s.  Mr. Haines was active in the state society movement in the Nation’s Capital, particularly in the predecessor organization of the National Conference of State Societies. He was instrumental in organizing and guiding the effort through the Congress where it became Public Law 89-293 on April 3, 1952.  It is under this legislation that Guam Society of America’s roots began and in fact, our establishment as a Society stems from this April 3, 1952 date – making it the oldest Chamorro Organization in the United States.

The Roy C. Haines Award is awarded to the Outstanding Society in the NCSS in honor of Mr. Haines’ efforts and in recognition of the Society’s accomplishments in keeping with Mr. Haines’ values and endeavors in promotion of the NCSS.

The nominees for the 2013-2014 Roy C. Haines Award and some of their key accomplishments are listed below:

- The Guam Society of America – have held a Cherry Blossom Princess Coronation Ball each year since its establishment in 1952; hosts annual events promoting Guam, including Membership Appreciation Night, Memorial Day Picnic, Guam Liberation Activities – commemorating the Liberation of Guam; Roberto LG Lizama Memorial Golf Classic – raising scholarship funds awarded annually; Chamorro Night – promoting the island’s rich culture and heritage; and the annual celebration in honor of Guam’s patron saint, Our Lady of Camarin.

- The Illinois State Society – founded in 1954, perhaps the oldest State Society; held the Illinois Society 2013 Inauguration Ball; Memorial Day commemoration in honor of Illinois Senator John A Logan, who founded Memorial Day in 1868; visit to Gettysburg Battlefield National Park to re-dedicate three Illinois-related monuments.

- The Maine State Society – held the Maine Day and Maine Princess Welcome Brunch in March 2013; Castlebay Benefit Concert; Fall Clean up of Maine Civil War monuments at Gettysburg Battlefield National Park; support of the Maine, “Wreaths Across America” Program, laying wreaths at each grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

- The New Jersey State Society – held the Garden State Inaugural, raising $17,000 for Hurricane Sandy Relief; ‘Fire and Ice’ – NJ Devils vs. Washington Capitals Hockey Game – raising funds for the Fuller Center in Atlantic City, NJ; extension of the Gridiron Reprise to the NCSS; Congressional Baseball Game between Republican and Democrat members of Congress, raising money for the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Clubs; raising money for the Zero Prostate Cancer Walk/Run; finished second place in the NCSS Summer Insanity Softball Finals.

- The Oklahoma State Society – held the Oklahoma Inaugural Gala in Jan 2013; Oklahoma Congressional Delegation Reception, with Native American Tribes participating as sponsors for the event; in partnership with NCSS, raised over $150,000 for tornado relief for the hard-hit town of Moore, Oklahoma when devastating  tornadoes struck Oklahoma in May.

The award was presented at the Knights of Columbus #12169 Council in Silver Spring, Maryland at an event coordinated by Co-Chairperson, NCSS Vice-President for Internal Affairs, Pete Berlowitz and Suzanne New, Past NCSS Cherry Blossom Festival Chairperson.  The revival of the long-standing NCSS tradition of the Roy C. Haines Award was attended by members of various State/Territorial Societies including American Samoa, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Vermont.

This was Guam’s second time receiving this award, earning the honors for the first time for the 1973-1974 award year.  Receipt of the award brings recognition at the National level amongst the various Societies from the 50 states and territories within the NCSS.  The award spotlights the Guam Society’s continuing tradition in the Washington, DC Metro area and another example of the leaders and members of the Guam Society’s demonstrated abilities as people from Guam.   In a message to Guam Society members, family and friends, Guam Society President, Mike Blas, thanked all of the Officers of the Guam Society, both past and present; its members; Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo and her staff in the Guam Congressional Office, the Governor of Guam’s Office in Washington, DC and all who supported the Guam Society in its endeavors as this distinguished award would not be possible without the help and support received over the Society’s 60+ years as an organization.  Blas expressed his pride in being surrounded by so many of island’s people in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC area who care about and are always ready to put forth the very best of Guam for all to see and experience.

Past Recipients of the Roy C. Haines Award for Outstanding State/Territorial Society are listed below:

New York State Society (1964-65)

Hawaii State Society (1965-66)

Kentucky State Society (1966-67)

Florida State Society (1967-68)

Alaska State Society (1968-69)

Pennsylvania State Society (1969-70)

Tennessee State Society (1970-71)

Massachusetts State Society (1971-72)

Ohio State Society (1972-73)

Guam Territorial Society (1973-74)

North Carolina State Society (1974-75)

Vermont State Society (1975-76)

Massachusetts State Society (1976-77)

West Virginia State Society (1977-78)

Illinois State Society (1978-79)

Virginia State Society (1979-80)

Maine State Society (1993-94)

(Portions of this entry were provided from excerpts of Mr. Bill Christian’s address during the Roy C. Haines Award Ceremony)