Discussions to form the organization took place in September, 1985 when Mrs. Joyce Rickford, Rhoda Patnelli, Imodale Burnett, and Rosaline Fyle decided to start an alumnae organization of the Annie Walsh Memorial School. The first meeting was held on October 19, 1985 and the name “AWOGA” was coined as it was thought it would be an easy abbreviation to remember. In December of that same year, we held our first holiday party and fundraising raffle, in the Bronx, New York. It was a success, AWOGA was born!
The primary goal of the group was to raise funds for the Annie Walsh Memorial School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It quickly also became a way for alumnae to foster many lifelong friendships, and offer encouragement and support to one another. Tasty snacks reminiscent of home were always available at each meeting, and children were always welcome. Spouses were recruited to assist at fundraising events.
The very first Thanksgiving service was held at Grace Lutheran Church in Teaneck, New Jersey, in January 1986, and in later years was moved to March of each year to coincide with the timing of AWMS Thanksgiving celebrations in Freetown and currently alternates between New York and New Jersey.