Monday, March 18, 2013


Is there life after retirement? I read somewhere that Ernie and Mencie Hairston retired recently but why do they look busier now than when they were, well, working.

They recently opened five scholarships for high school graduates under the High Bridge Foundation, Inc., a Bowie, Md.-based non-profit which they formed last year. The scholarship, Mencie explained, would help pay the cost of attending a trade school, community college or university of the beneficiary’s choice.

Graduating high school students in DC; Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland; and Arlington and Fairfax counties and Alexandria City in Virginia who are in dire need of financial help to pursue a college diploma are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

The deadline for submission of applications is April 19. You can access forms here.

A veritable dynamo, Mencie has been part of virtually all of the big Fil-Am organizations in the Metro DC region. Many of them she helped start, from charities to congressional lobbies for pushing the diverse Fil-Am agenda in the nation’s capital.

She’s still involved with Mabuhay Inc., another non-profit, which helps both Filipinos and Americans bridge the cultural divide through lessons usually given in summer in Greenbelt, Md. The unique school draws Americans who had married or are about to marry Filipinos, couples raising bi-racial children or those adopting children from the Philippines, and 2nd generation Fil-Ams who want to know more about the “old country”.

Ernie and Mencie have shared a passion (aside of course from their “apo’s”). Cognizant that she’d be an enthusiastic voice in and outside the Fil-Am community, we asked Mencie during last year’s political campaign “what would draw her to support a candidate”?  She shot back almost instantaneously – “education…anyone who’ll give our kids a good education”.

She tried to get me to join a 5K walkathon (I never made it but I was told over 150 did) to raise money for scholarships in the University of Maryland’s Asian American Studies program. It offers financial aid for deserving students who want to specialize in this field, including two scholarships given in honor of outstanding Fil-Ams – labor leader and civil rights activist Philip Vera Cruz and retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba.

Mencie is part of the AAST scholarship committee.

“We want to ensure that these scholarships are always there for everybody. That’s how we learn about each other,” she averred.

The High Bridge website explains that, “Dr. and Mrs. Hairston are life-long supporters of youth programs that address the needs of young people, especially those with disabilities and life challenges, who may not have easy access to scholarship information and funding.  

“As recipients of scholarships during their student days, Dr. and Mrs. Hairston are aware that a scholarship is more than just free money -- it is a donor’s financial investment in a student’s potential to succeed and to give back to the community as well.”

1 comment:

  1. Mencie and Ernie Hairston are inspiring examples of selfless dedication and community service. May their tribe increase. Thanks for the feature, Rodney.