The History of PACE
In the fall of 1983, Liz Hale and Roxanne Forster sat down together as friends and neighbors in their suburban Carrollton, Texas surroundings to talk about starting a community organization for Black women. They talked about needing to meet and connect with other black women in the Dallas Metroplex area who might share some of the same values and desires they had. They were looking for friendships and support as they raised their children in an environment that offered opportunities on the one hand, and troubling challenges on the other. They decided that community involvement and community would be important Christian values to keep the club vibrant, lively and relevant.
A few months later, a group of about 30 women were invited to attend a meeting at the home of Liz Hale to discuss the possibility of forming such a club. Among those in attendance were career professionals, including nurses, school teachers, secretaries, and also some stay at home moms. All were very excited about the possibility of forming an organization and appreciated the opportunity to get together and share ideas. There were several different ideas for the club, including an investment club, a crafts club, and a social club. Overall, the majority of the ladies talked about wanting to do something to make a difference in their community and to be a visible presence as Black women in the Dallas area and beyond.
After a second meeting a month later, about 20 women committed to forming an organization whose main purpose would be community service coupled with friendship and mutual support. Liz Hale served as acting president and Roxanne Forster as acting vice president. Others who volunteered to serve were Lillie Lawrence, Jackie Brown, Linda Aldrich and Barbara Byse. It was at the home of Barbara Byse in Carrollton, Texas in February, 1984 that the club became official and the group began pondering names for the organization. Suggestions for names were presented and included T-Some and Diamonds. Linda Aldrich suggested “PACE – Professional Achievers for Community Excellence” and the name just seemed to fit. Dues were set at $25 a year. The acting officers were voted in as permanent officers and began the task of overseeing the writing of the constitution, by-laws and establishing a purpose for the organization. New members were asked to wear pearls at our first events to be easily identified. “Making a Difference” was selected as the theme for “PACE”.
The first activities sponsored by PACE included the celebration of Black History Month at the Carrollton Library through displays, programs, films, and stories. A “Meet the Candidate” night was often held for those running for public office. Participation in the Carrollton County Fair became an annual event. The night preceding the first Carrollton County fair found some PACE members up half the night dipping apples in hot syrup to sell at the fair. The first Christmas party was held at the Country Place Clubhouse and benefited the Bethlehem Center for Children and the United Negro College Fund. Dwayne Dancer, a local radio personality, served as disc jockey for the evening. PACE’s contribution to the United Negro College Fund was presented on KERA public television during UNCF’s telethon. Later activities included visiting nursing homes, garage sales, the toy drive at Christmas, volunteering for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, giving Thanksgiving baskets and monetary donations to needy families, worshipping together in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, and many other events. In addition, PACE has been blessed to be able to help families and students alike when asked – whether a family in need or a young person needing assistance with a competitive event.
In 1985, PACE held their first luncheon and fashion show at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza on Midway Road in Dallas, Texas. PACE members were the first models and all vowed – never again! (Yet here we are again modeling this year.) Most were not suited for the runway life or behind the scenes chaos! It was not until the following year that the focus turned to scholarships for young minority women who were high school seniors bound for college with a need for financial assistance. And so began the “Annual PACE Scholarship Luncheon and Fashion Show.” Roxanne Forster suggested the name “Spring Into Summer”. Someone else added “Spring Into Summer with PACE” and the name stuck. Members were asked to wear the colors black, gold, or white. Later black and gold became the official PACE colors. Annually since 1986, PACE has contributed to the education and dreams of up to four young women each year who demonstrate Christian service, community service, academic excellence, pride in themselves, and the desire for educational achievement and success for the future. In 1995 the members elected to rename the “PACE Scholarship” the “Roxanne Forster PACE Scholarship” in honor of one of our founding members, Roxanne Forster.
PACE also sponsors an annual Christmas party the first Friday night in December. Disco Don has served as the disc jockey for a number of years and always adds a lively flair to the event. PACE has worked with the South Dallas YMCA during their annual Christmas Toy Drive for a number of years and has made monetary donations to assist with the purchase of toys for needy children and volunteered to sort and organize clothing and toys for the families. In recent years, PACE has supported Wesley Inn/Promise House, a home for unwed homeless teenage mothers. PACE members held baby showers and donated new clothing for infants and toddlers. In addition, members donated women’s clothing and toiletries for the mothers, as well as children’s books and magazines.
Today PACE members are busy, involved, active women, but still committed to community service - the sisterhood of friends and support for each other in times of need, achievement, sorrow, or joy. It has also been proven over time that PACE has been a magnet for women of faith. This is the anchor that holds each one to the task. As each one gives, each one receives. We thank God for all the current and former members who have passed our way and worked to help PACE make a difference in the Carrollton community and throughout the Metroplex. May God continue to bless Professional Achievers for Community Excellence.