Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated
Iota Alpha Omega Chapter
Abridged History (1969 – 2008)
|Jacqueline (Wilson) Blount
Jeanne Buie (Holmes)
Brenda Burney (Whitaker)
Linda Epps (Browne)
Kaitie Griffin (Gafford)*
Loretta Jenkins*Ivy Beyond the Wall
|Vivian Love Jones
Linda Kittrell (Waldemar)
Celestine Mickens (Campbell)
Gwendolyn Glover Stephens
Marlene (Gray) Watts
May 1967 five AKA women met to explore forming an alumnae chapter, and in September Soror Barbara Battle became the first chairperson of thirteen AKA women who fellowshipped under the unofficial name “Alpha Kappa Alpha Women of Mid-Hudson Valley.” In 1969, Soror Jacqueline Wilson Blount, the second chairperson, led sixteen sorors to seek affiliation with the sorority. On Saturday, December 6, 1969, Soror Esther G. Pollard, NA Regional Director (1966-70), officially presented the charter to the newly created Iota Alpha Omega (IAΩ), the 375th chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Lorraine Roberts (1970-71) organized the framework. Kaitie Griffin Gafford (1972-75) set the guidelines for personal involvement. Annette Morgan (1976-77) sowed the seeds for program expansion. Jeanne Buie Holmes (1978-79) laid the groundwork to incorporate the program arm. Shirley Walker (1980-81) reaffirmed the commitment of “supreme in service to all mankind.” Linda Kittrell Waldemar (1982-83) extended the sorority’s influence to area college campuses. Celestine Mickens Campbell (1984-85) expanded the chapter’s services in the Mid-Hudson Valley. LeDora Taylor (1986-87) increased networking with new community groups. Patricia Jarvis White (1988-89) made the chapter a functioning part of the North Atlantic Region and Cluster III. Betty E. White (1990-91) enhanced community activities and institutionalized public recognition of agencies receiving chapter financial support. Katherine Davis (1992-93) implemented the international Ivy AKAdemy program. Loretta Goode Taylor (1994-95) continued the chapter service projects while strengthening the bonds of sisterhood. Paulette Sibert (1996-97) initiated involvement in the PIMS project. Mary Bagley (1998-99) led the chapter to renewed commitment to strong programs. Celestine Mickens Campbell (2000-01) focused on the four R’s (Retain, Reclaim, Recruit and Revitalize). Velda Brown (2002-2003) concentrated on fund development. Dana Fleming (2003-2007) has increased membership, employed chapter meetings themes and implemented additional service projects. Lorna Woodside (2008-2009) continued traditional programs while implementing more service in closer line with the International Program Platforms. Tara Jones (2010-present) is working to expand chapter visibility at both the Regional and local level.
Since the chartering of the chapter, more than 130 sorors have affiliated with Iota Alpha Omega Chapter, fifty-seven women of whom were initiated into our sisterhood beginning in 1972. As of January 2008 the chapter has 54 active members; eighteen life members, four Golden sorors, 23 Silver sorors. We lost Betty E. White (1996), Loretta Jenkins (1999), and Kaitie Griffin Gafford (2006) when they became “Ivies Beyond the Wall:”.
Incorporation of Chapter’s Program Arm
The process of incorporating the chapter’s program arm began in 1978. The Iota Alpha Omega AKA Community Scholarship Fund was incorporated in New York State on December 10, 1979. The Federal 501(c)3 status was received in 1982
The Undergraduate Chapter Affiliation
Xi Mu Chapter, State University College at New Paltz, was chartered April 4, 1983; it was under the sponsorship of the chapter until 2004 and again beginning in 2007.
The Funding of Chapter Operations and Human Service Initiatives
Chapter operations are funded by dues. Initiatives including scholarship grants to students and not-for profit agencies as well as community service projects are funded through fundraising events and grant monies channeled through the incorporated entity.
Chapter Operations Initiatives Supported Through Dues
The Chapter has been representated at most Cluster III Leadership Conferences, Cluster III Founder’s Day celebrations, North Atlantic Regional Conferences and Boules since 1970. The chapter hosted the North Atlantic Region Leadership Conference in 1977 and 1988. In 2004, the chapter together with Xi Mu Chapter hosted the Cluster III Leadership Conference. In February, 1990 both chapters hosted over 300 sorors at the Cluster III Founder’s Day celebration and presented scrolls containing the names of the original founders. More than 250 sorors were welcomed to the Hudson Valley for the 2006 Founders’ Day celebration. Sorors have also been an integral part of planning committees for the North Atlantic Regional Conferences held in New York City in 1995, 2000, and 2005. Since the inception of the “Day at the State Capital,” the chapter has participated in this Albany event. In Honolulu, Hawaii, October 11, 1991, a monument honoring the first African American hero of World War II at Pearl Harbor (Matt, 2C Doris [Dorie] Miller, USN) was dedicated. This AKA International project was initiated by Sorors Patricia White and Lorraine Roberts of Iota Alpha Omega Chapter. They helped with the implementation of the project and participated in the ceremony. The chapter has publicly celebrated two birthday anniversaries-—the 20th, December 9, 1989; and the 30th, December 4, 1999. The hallmark of the that celebration was the presentation of the first “Service To Mankind” awards to seven community leaders. The 35th Anniversary was celebrated by sorors with a “Week of Service,” December 4-11, 2004. This practice has been continued in subsequent years.
Fundraising Activities to Support Human Service Activities
The first fundraising activity was a dance/art show in 1970. The Ebony Fashion Show has been sponsored as a major funding event every two years since 1970. To supplement funds for community service, the chapter sponsored other fundraising projects: “AKA Goes Green Mountain (1971 and 1973); “Favorite Recipes” Cookbook (1977); “Men On The Go,” a male fashion show (1977 and 1979); “Hawaiian Theme” dance (1983); “Summer Breeze Dance” (1985). The “Cruise On the Hudson” is a major fundraising event and has been held annually since 1987. In 2003 and 2004, the chapter sponsored the Lobster Feast activity. The chapter has raised more than $95,000, which has been given back to the community.
Major Service Programs Supported by Fundraising Activities
- Collegiate Scholarship: The scholarship program is opened to current June high school graduates. Since the first collegiate scholarship of $500 presented in 1970, 88 students have received awards from $250 to $1,500. A public program honoring scholarship and community organization recipients is held the third Sunday in May.
- Youth/Adult Programs: Youth work began in the early 1970’s with holiday parties at Anderson School, Martin Luther King Center (Beacon) and Smith Street Housing Project (now Hudson Gardens), which led to a teenage girls’ program (Mahogany) and working with the YWCA “Teen Mothers” program. The Reading Awareness program begun in 1976 evolved into an annual essay contest with the Beacon School District (1985-97). Sorors did projects with the Academy Street Adult Home; Hudson River Psychiatric Center, Castle Point Veterans Hospital and the Dutchess County Volunteer Action Center. Ivy AKAdemy, an eight-week experiential reading/writing program, began operating in 1993 and has serviced over 130 Grade 2 and 3 students. From 1995-1997 in partnership with the Newburgh School District and Glenn Hines Boys and Girls Club of America, the chapter sponsored PIMS (Partners In Math and Science) and sent three Newburgh middle school students to the 1997 PIMS Camp, Bowie State University.
- Programs for the Economically Challenged: In 1990-91 sorors prepared Thanksgiving baskets. Since 1995 the chapter has sponsored meals at the Beulah Baptist Church for more than 100 individuals the third Saturday in September. In 2000 and 2001 new projects were added including the Shoe Box project and the suit and coat drives
Other Local Major Service Programs
- Local Census/Voter Registration/March of Dimes Walkathons: The chapter worked on the 1980 census drive followed by a number of voter registration rives (last in 2006). In 1989 the chapter began working with the March of Dimes to implement registration activities for the Hyde Park Walkathon and raise money for the cause as walkers. The chapter received a special award from the March of Dimes in 2000 in recognition of this participation. Iota Alpha Omega started to raise money for another worthy cause by walking in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkathon.
- Public Awareness Initiatives: Iota Alpha Omega sorors wrote articles that were published in the Poughkeepsie Journal during Black History Month (1975-79); a musical concert featuring Sorors Celestine Campbell, Paulette Moore (Sibert) and Vivian Walker (1975); initiated the 1981 Greek-letter NAACP Membership Campaign; marched in Poughkeepsie Tri-Centennial Parade and hosted a booth (1987); lead community group in networking with Barclay’s Bank, Seagram and United Negro College Fund in sponsoring a bicycle race to benefit UNCF(1987/88); financial planning workshops (1996/2001/2007); SIDS Seminars (2004-05); assisting Red Cross with sickle cell anemia screening (1974)and blood drives (last 2007)
- Financial Support of Local Not-for-Profit Organizations: Astor-Poughkeepsie Headstart, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Beacon Day Care Center, Catharine Street Community Center, Glenn Hines Boys and Girls Club, Harambee, Hale House (NYC), Martin Luther King Cultural Center, Newburgh’s Moody House, New Day Repertory Company, Newburgh Drug Rehabilitation Center, Northside Resource Center, Poughkeepsie City School District Pre-Kindergarten Program, Poughkeepsie Children’s Home, Southern Dutchess Coalition, Southern Dutchess NAACP (life membership) and YWCA Campership programs (Dutchess/Orange counties).
- Financial Support of AKA International Programs: M. Bethune Memorial (Washington DC); Cleveland Job Corps Center (until 1995); International African Village Project (Midekhine in Chad); restoration of Martin Luther King Homestead; NAACP life-time membership; Tuskegee Veterans Hospital (Beta Xi Omega, Christmas project); United Negro College Fund; Wilberforce Library.
As the new millennium unfolds, we will be mindful of our past national and local leaders and our programs of service. The true test by which we will be judged is the effectiveness of our sisterhood to deliver human services. Service to all mankind is the mission and commitment that binds our sisterhood today, tomorrow and forever. We are committed to this purpose because we are sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.