By Lea Michelle Cash
Rialto —His name was Vernon Bragg Jr. His mission was simple. To help others become better speakers and communicators in our community. Last year on February 8, 2011 he passed at the age of 79. It been said many times that when a magnificent oak tree falls, or a lily in the field that brilliantly bloomed is gone to soon, it leaves an emotional hole in the heart of a community that never heals. Vernon Bragg Jr. was many things. He was a husband, father, grandfather, retired Air Force (Master Sergeant, First Sergeant), business owner, Kiwanian, debater, community leader, devoted church member, philanthropist, and most importantly a Toastmaster. He was as thoughtful and deliberate in conversation as he was tough and corrective during his legendary sterling status in Toastmasters Inc. Bragg loved Toastmasters and on April 28, 2012, the heart of a community begins to heal by honoring Bragg through Toastmasters. Toastmaster International is a worldwide non-profit organization that assists individuals from all walks of life learn communication skills to increase their self confidence, become better speakers, become better leaders, and communicate more effectively. In the United States, there are clubs in every city with meeting locations.
Decades ago, Bragg founded Rialto Club 4064. And to date numerous San Bernardino County citizens have been members including many community leaders, political figures and noted individuals. On April 28, 2012, the Rialto Club 4064 proudly changed its name to the Vernon Bragg Jr. Club 4064. The legend and his mission lives on and will never be forgotten. The name change was performed at the 4th Annual Vernon Bragg Youth Leadership Speech Contest, designed to inspire Rialto’s high school students in 10th and 11th grade to provide a public speech on a topic selected by the club. The topic this year was centered on “Bullying”. The event was held in the multi-purpose center at Bob Murphy Community Day School in Rialto.
The five paneled judges had a difficult time judging to select the first, second, and third place winners who won cash prizes ranging from $200 to $150 dollars. The student’s speeches were remarkably informative, inspirational and loaded with a sense of duty to put an end to bullying. All seven speakers and one student guest speaker received loaded gift bags with school supplies. In addition, they received special recognition certificates from Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter, who attended to recognize the Bragg family in the formal name change. Carter’s husband delivered a short tribute to Bragg. As he delivered the somewhat humorous tribute, remembering his dear friend and the times they shared, a memory began to shape. Ratibu was caught off guard, choked up for a moment—yet elegantly finished the honoring his friend. The Vernon Braggs Jr. Club 4064 meets every Tuesday morning at 7:00 AM at Carrows Restaurant located at 298 W. Baseline Avenue in Rialto. Anyone who desires to communicate better is welcome to attend as the group continues the legacy of Vernon Bragg Jr. and the mission of Toastmasters to help individuals develop communication and leadership skills.
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