Intimate Conversation with S.A.G.E. Bookclub

Intimate Conversation with S.A.G.E. Bookclub
Sistahs Acquiring Goals Through Excellence

BPM: Give us a little history on your organization, Sistahs Acquiring Goals Through Excellence.

In November, 2002, a group of basketball mom’s got together and started SAGE, Sistahs Acquiring Goals Through Excellence, at the suggestion of one Mary Johnson of Germantown, M. Since then, SAGE has grown to a total of eleven active members. While there is no president, SAGE is guided by our two remaining founding members, Mrs. Acqueetta Ragland-Higdon and Ms. Carlette “Sissy” Laing, both of whom reside in Germantown, MD the remainder of our members reside throughout Montgomery County, Frederick County and Prince George’s County, Maryland

BPM: What type of activities do you enjoy as a group? Do you travel?
The SAGE year kicks-off in November with our anniversary brunch at a fine DC eating establishment in commemoration of the founding of SAGE Book club. This is also the month in which the schedule for the coming year is set. Each member is assigned a month to host the club which includes choosing a book and preparing a place (usually their home) for the discussion, and an enjoyable meal. In December, SAGE adopts a family in need, a local cause like the “Secret Santa” charity, to help make the holiday season a little lighter by donating new clothes, toys and food. This is one of our favorite things to do as part of “giving back” to our community.

In the Spring, we all go on a retreat. From Friday to Sunday, we pack up and go to some wonderful chalet/resort to hold our book club for that month, enjoy a little R&R and sneak in a spa day and even wine tasting. It’s a great time to take a break and enjoy a little getaway. Each year we rotate which sister host’s the book club at the retreat.

Rounding back to fall, SAGE holds our annual book bag/school supply drive every September and judging by the reviews from the schools we choose, this is our popular and rewarding undertaking.

BPM: What is the mission of the group? Tell us about your work in the community. 
SAGE has a strong sense of community. We feel it is important, not only as a group, but as individuals that we “give back” to society, to our community. We do our small part largely in the months of September and December with our school supply drive and adopt a family, respectively.

Ms Laing, eagerly coordinates our charitable efforts. She locates needy schools, contacts the officials, and then takes charge of our delivery efforts – usually capped off with a celebratory brunch.

As you can see we require energy to do our community service and we do not hesitate to take time out to get our nourishment and to be in each other’s company! Community service can be so rewarding. Our Secret Santa charitable activity operates in a similar fashion. The families in crisis are suggested or referred to us from a local school counselor. We divide up the shopping responsibilities and then we get together again – this time for a potluck, gift-wrapping event! Delivery to the family is done discreetly, so the parents of the children can give the gifts as if they had purchased them. We really enjoy this fundraiser the most!

BPM: What impact has reading or being in a organized group had on your life? 
We find that when reading in an organized group, it requires us to respect our differences in taste, as well as, appreciate our similarities in reading materials. We do not always like the book of the month, but because the love and respect that we share, it requires us to be flexible and tolerant. We have realized that flexibility, tolerance, patience and true sisterhood is required for the cohesiveness and continued success of our book club.

BPM: What is your favorite genre of books? What are the key factors that make a book remain on your mind long after you read the last page? 
Initially, SAGE wanted to support only black authors as we hear constantly how black authors do not receive much support from their own community. So in our small way, we tried to do our part to support our own community. However, we have found we also enjoy “other than black” authors as well. Some members find books that tell the story of social struggles and obstacles that reflect morality issues of love and fidelity are considered a “good read.”

While others enjoy stories with villains and heroines as great page-turners, all of SAGE appreciate books that have in their conclusion, moral and ethical lessons, to be considered on an individual scale. We have enjoyed page turners by authors such as: Trice Hickman, Mary Monroe, Eric Jerome Dickey, Kimberla Lawson-Roby, Beverly Jenkins, GiGi Gunn, Walter Mosley, Dolen Perking –Valdez, Lutisha Lovely and last, but certainly not least, the late E. Lynn Harris.

BPM: How do you feel about electronic books such as downloads for Kindle, Nook or iPad, etc?
SAGE has several members who use and enjoy electronic reading devices. It is a fact that if all of us go to our local library or bookstore for the book of the month, there would be a shortage. Having the ability to order a book in an instant has increased readership. Having the ability to download the book at one’s leisure is very satisfying, although some of our members just love feeling the pages and “the smell” of a great book, or if luck has it, having that book signed by the author. Overall, a hard copy of a book will never go unappreciated.

Submitted by:
Acqueetta Ragland-Higdon and Members of the S.A.G.E. Bookclub
Sistahs Acquiring Goals Through Excellence (S.A.G.E. Bookclub)