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HomeCommunity GroupsAfrican-American CemeteryGiving Rye: Meet the Friends of the African American Cemetery

Giving Rye: Meet the Friends of the African American Cemetery

(PHOTO: Dave Thomas of the Friends of the African American Cemetery.)
(PHOTO: Dave Thomas of the Friends of the African American Cemetery.)

Giving Rye is a new occasional feature highlighting non-profits and community groups in and around the City of Rye. Today meet Dave Thomas of Friends of the African American Cemetery.

Your Name: David Thomas

Organization: Friends of the African American Cemetery

Your role: President

MyRye.com: Tell us your organization’s mission.

Restoration work at Rye's African-American Cemetery in June 2021 - 3
(PHOTO: A World Monument Fund apprentice works to help restore a headstone in Rye’s African American Cemetery in June 2021.)

Thomas: Friends of the African American Cemetery will restore the deteriorated landmark African American Cemetery. This unique site has important historical and cultural significance to the African American as well as the overall community dating from 1860. It will enhance the quality and quantity of heritage tourism, offer educational opportunities, and expand passive recreational opportunities in this highly populated area. 

How long have you operated in Rye?

Thomas: Since 2011, the organization’s address is in Port Chester, NY

(PHOTO: John Reavis Jr., former president of the Port Chester-Rye branch of the NAACP, speaking at the 2011 Memorial Day ceremony at the African American Cemetery.)
(PHOTO: John Reavis Jr., former president of the Port Chester-Rye branch of the NAACP, speaking at the 2011 Memorial Day ceremony at the African American Cemetery.)

What programming or work in Rye is the organization best known for? 

Thomas: 

  1. Memorial Day Ceremony
  2. Juneteenth Celebration
  3. Veterans Day Ceremony
(PHOTO: Heritage Consultants uses what looks like a high tech baby stroller to map the underground at Rye's African American Cemetery.)
(PHOTO: In 2023, Heritage Consultants used what looks like a high tech baby stroller to map the underground at Rye’s African American Cemetery.)

Looking forward to 2024, what will be your top initiatives? 

Thomas: 

  1. Completion of the Ground Penetrating Radar/Survey
  2. Marking the unmarked burial sites

Tell us about the population you serve and how they can get involved with your programming and services.

Thomas: We serve the Rye Town community and descendants of those interred at the site.

Are you a 501(c)(3) non-profit with tax exempt status? 

Thomas: Yes

Looking back across 2023, what were your organization’s top achievements? 

Thomas: 

  1. The receipt of the Federal Grant for African American Historic Preservation and the grant from Arts Westchester provided the Town with funds to commence an archeological survey of the site.  
  2. The grant from Arts Westchester was used to fund a Juneteenth event at the Jay Heritage center in conjunction with the Center.

How can local residents support your organization? 

Thomas: There are “Days of Service” held at the site each year for volunteers.  Donations would also be greatly appreciated.

What local Rye residents and area businesses have been the longest, steadiest supporters of your organization?

Thomas: The Jay Heritage Center, the Rye Historical Society and the City of Rye

Tell us about you:

How long have you been in your current role? 

Thomas: 10-12 Years

Is the role full time or part time? Paid or volunteer? 

Thomas: Part-Time Volunteer, I currently work for Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages.

Pick one:

Thomas: 

MyRye.com

Select from:

Your Pick:
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Regular or diet? Regular
Action movie or rom com? Action
Cook, order in or eat out? Cook in
Dog, cat or no pet? Dog
Balsamic vinaigrette or ranch? Balsamic
Ruffles Original, Lay’s Barbeque or Funyuns? Lays
Still, sparkling or tap? Tap

 

What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?

Thomas: My wife consented to be my wife.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why, and who would you take with you? 

Thomas: I would visit the Grand Egyptian Museum and tour the Middle east.

What is your favorite streaming / TV series?

Thomas: Too many to quantify.

What is your favorite movie?

Thomas: Too many to quantify.

Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you lived in the City? 

Thomas: Port Chester

Thanks, Dave!

Organization’s website (none)

Specific donation link for online donations (none)

Facebook.

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