Toomer Family BLOG

Our goal is to celebrate ALL Toomer family members today and yesterday. This blog will include history, genealogy, and reunion news. Additionally we will share our talent in poetry and prose, along with spotlight news on family members.

Friday, March 17, 2006

2006 Family Reunion Conference

Well family I am on my way to Pittsburgh, Pa, to attend the 15 National Family Reunion Conference. This conference has been around since the late 1980’s.. It was started at Temple University by Dr. Ione Vargus. She created a group called the Family Reunion Institute. Cousin Floyd was in the mix from the beginning and eventually got me involved. At my first conference I ran from table to table soaking up the information and then finding Floyd to compare notes. Our first presentation together was in a workshop called Telling the Story. Along with two other presenters we discussed ways to present genealogical and historical information at a reunion. Floyd and I discussed our Toomer publications, the Partial History booklet and one birthday calendar at that time, both prized possessions in our Toomer arsenal. Additionally we showed reunion tee shirts which provided genealogical information. This included the big T with Momma and Poppas pictures and their named children and the shirt with the names of all of the living descendants-I think that we numbered over 600 that year.

The Toomers were a hit. Eventually we presented the 1999 birthday calendar and the 2000 reunion journal. Then Floyd said - okay grasshopper, you have successfully walked the rice paper and it is still intact. You are now ready for your solo journey. By that time the internet was the rage and of course the Toomers had a web site. Dr. Vargus viewed the web site and asked me to do a present on building a family web site. Last year, in Atlanta, GA, I shared a workshop, Gina Paige, Co-founder of African Ancestry Inc. Floyd and I had already discussed the possibility of doing a family DNA test. But after sitting and listening to Gina_s wonderful presentation, and having my many questions answered I called Floyd from the conference full of African dreams.

Part of the reason that I love this conference is because you get to learn how other families put on a reunion. People do some fantastic things, but not all things are for all families. Floyd and I would sit and listen to the many ideas evaluating each on the Toomer scale. Nah the Toomers aint gonna go for that, could you see us, or we could do this if we change it a bit. For instance many families travel for their reunion. We would love to take a family trip but we want as many people to attend as possible. If we went on the road this would put many at a disadvantage. An off year trip would be nice. Any travel agents in the family? (Patience of a saint and middle eastern diplomacy experience required. Nah, just kidding fam, just kidding. We are a loving bunch. Just as long as everything is perfect. Remember The Reunion Without Chicken. Again, we truly apologize for that one. We really do. How this happened remains a Toomer Unsolved Mystery. Thank good ness it did not become a Toomer City Confidential.)

This will be an exciting conference on many fronts. First, this will be the first multicultural conference. Second, I will get the chance to hang out with my Pittsburgh genealogy buddies. When I met them in 2003, it was like meeting family. They took us in and made sure that we were ok. They fed us good home cooking (and I think that yams were involved). It was fantastic! Additionally, two of the Pittsburgh crew have ancestry in Barbour Co, AL, where my Grandmother Maggie’s ancestors are from. The final point of excitement will be introducing our new family blog.

Next year the conference will be in Philly. All of those interested, plan to attend. I will probably be in March.

Well off to the airport, with an additional nine new CDs, pushing my iPod song count up to 1236 (3.8 days of music). Off to meet other family reunion planners and budding planners. Off in search of a new idea to make our Toomer Reunion special. Floyd, stay by the bat phone.


  • At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I do hope the Family Reunion Conference was all you antiscipated , and more, again this year Shamele. If only I could grow wings and fly-in from 'downunder'to attend such a meeting of minds. Meanwhile; thanks for keeping the family so well informed.

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