Chapter News

This is a public blog featuring news and announcements concerning Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter.  The content on this page is read-only.  For more information about Theta Epsilon Omega, please e-mail info@akanewhaven.org

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  • 28 Nov 2016 4:53 PM | Anonymous

    New Haven sorority takes giving to heart, providing help to many

    Sorority meets needs of families, children, the hungry

    By Shahid Abdul-Karim, New Haven Register

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Kappa Alpha Kappa sorority members, front row from left, Adrienne Lucas, Shannon Bowers, chapter President Cathy Patton, Dori Dumas and Lauren Williams; and back row, from left, Sondi Jackson, Shenae Draughn, Marlene Graham, Pia Grasty, Eboni Douglas, Jaryn Travers and Khalilah Brown-Dean at Wexler-Grant School in New Haven.

    NEW HAVEN >> Talia Morton has a lot to be thankful for.

    She was surprised when the Theta Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. decided to provide the Thanksgiving Day meal for her entire family last year.

    “They brought us so much food that (it) lasted the following month,” said Morton, 38, a Newhallville resident who is married with nine children.

    It was a critical time for the Mortons. Her husband had been laid off from work and he is still seeking employment.

    “I asked, (and) they were there for my family in time of our need,” she said.

    This type of philanthropy is part of the sorority chapter’s Adopt-a-Family program and is one among several that aim to engage in a variety of activities to uplift families throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season.

    Adopt-a-Family serves as an arm of the Family Strengthening initiative.

    For the Mortons, the program has been directly beneficial as the chapter goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to giving, Morton said.

    “They’ve helped me twice,” said Morton. “They have come through for us like they have done for so many other families in the community.”

    And for some city residents, obtaining basic necessities is not easy.

    According to U.S. Census figures, 26.3 percent of city residents live below the poverty level and the city’s unemployment rate is 12.4 percent, which is higher than the national average.

    In 2014, 13 percent of the Greater New Haven population lived in poverty, meaning they were in households with annual incomes below the federal poverty line, according to a report by United Way of Greater New Haven.

    The report noted that the federal poverty line is equivalent to $15,730 per year for a family of two and $23,850 for a family of four.

    While many area families continue to struggle, sorority chapter President Cathy R. Patton said the goal is to support the less fortunate.

    “This program has been a part of who we are and what we really do for some time now,” said Patton, who’s been with the sorority for 34 years.

    “We think it’s important that we support the family structure in the home, by providing what others may take for granted,” she said. “A lot of families just don’t have the basic necessities.”

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Soroity Inc. was established in 1908 on the campus of Howard University, as the first Greek-lettered organization for black college women.

    Its mission is to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life and to be of service to all mankind.

    The New Haven chapter was chartered in 1965 as a graduate chapter with 15 charter members.

    Patton believes the city is resource-rich, yet, “in terms of collaboration of organizations, we’re poor.”

    “I think we can be stronger if we did more things together to impact more families,” she said.

    As a part of a community collaboration, next month the chapter will partner with the WYBC radio station and the New Haven Firebirds for a community-wide coat drive.

    In January, the chapter will hold its annual community-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Conference at Wexler-Grant School, which Patton says has the strongest impact in the community.

    “It’s our favorite,” said Patton. “We get to take all of our programs that we do throughout the year and conduct workshops all in that day.”

    Some of the other initiatives include the A.S.C.E.N.D. Youth Enrichment Program, which is the sorority’s signature youth program; education; health; economic empowerment; and the AKA Connection.

    The chapter also provides monetary support to the Connecticut Food Bank, American Cancer Society, Emergency Shelter Management Services and Children in Placement, among other organizations.

    In addition to those initiatives, the chapter also adopted Ella B. Scantlebury Playground at Wexler Grant Park in an effort to help provide a better environment for children.

    “It’s part of our community impact day(s). We want children to feel safe and play in a clean environment,” said Patton. “We have to monitor it all year and make sure it stays clean.”

    While the chapter doesn’t have a physical office, it holds its meetings at Wexler-Grant School.

    School Principal Sabrina Breland said the sorority is invaluable to the school community.

    “They do so much for us here in terms of activities for the students,” said Breland. “They supply clothing for our students; hats, gloves and coats,” she said.

    Breland said the chapter has a strong presence at the school and is highly active during school events throughout the year.

    Chapter member Sondi Jackson knows exactly how the programs directly affect students and their needs. She serves as the school’s speech pathologist.

    “The children have been exposed to the AKA’s (members) for a number of years. Students have seen us at all different levels within the community,” said Jackson.

    For example, in previous years, the chapter adopted the kindergarten classrooms at the school and held activities for pupils.

    One other project, according to Jackson, which she said worked well, was giving bicycles to students who came to school early in preparation for the Connecticut Mastery Test.

    “In the areas where it relates to education and basic needs, we’ve been to the table serving the community,” said Jackson, who has been part of the sorority since 1981.

    Among other issues in the city for families is food insecurity.

    In New Haven County in 2014, 13.9 percent, or 119,880 residents, were food-insecure, and it would take more than $64 million to meet the needs of New Haven County’s food-insecure population, or $17.62 per week for each food-insecure person, according to a study done by the Connecticut Food Bank.

    The figures remain the highest among Connecticut’s eight counties. Although 2013 data showed a higher 14.1 percent food-insecurity rate than the 13.9 percent rate reported for 2014, there is a $1.4 million increase in the food budget shortfall, from the figure of $62.64 million reported in 2013. The average New Haven County food budget shortfall increased by 60 cents per week, or 3.5 percent, for each food-insecure person, the report said.

    Chapter member and Greater New Haven NAACP Branch President Dori Dumas said families are challenged with putting food on their tables.

    “We do these programs because there is a need and we understand our community,” said Dumas, who has been a member of the sorority for more than 20 years.

    “We know families that don’t have food; not just during the holidays, but year-round,” she said.

    When the chapter adopts a family, Dumas said, no one is left out.

    “We provide food, clothing and toys; everyone gets something,” said Dumas. “We shop like we’re shopping for members of our family.” .

    For the holidays two years ago, the chapter saw the need to make the Mortons’ Christmas one they’d remember.

    “They bought my kids lots of stuff; when they do things for you, they don’t play games,” said Morton.

    “They’re also very good people to talk to,” she said. “They’re understanding and don’t judge you based on your circumstances; they look at you as a human being.”

    Reach Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-680-9343.

    URL: http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20161123/new-haven-sorority-takes-giving-to-heart-providing-help-to-many

  • 07 Nov 2016 1:35 PM | Anonymous

    By Renee Chmiel, News 8 Reporter

    Published: November 6, 2016, 11:22 pm

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Volunteers at NAACP branches across the country are pushing to get out the vote. Dozens of people spent the day reaching out to voters at the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP.

    The Get Out To Vote campaign kicked off Sunday, but the organization has been preparing for it all year long. It got more than 300 people to register to vote over the past year. Organizers have a message for all of them.

    “It’s one thing to be registered but the other part is you actually have to go to the polls and to vote,” said Roxana Walker-Canton, Political Action Committee Chair for the Greater New Haven NAACP.

    Volunteers spent the day getting that message out. They made phone calls and canvassed neighborhoods. They focused on areas that have had low voter turnout in previous years. Campaign organizers say more people are interested this year, however. They say movements like Black Lives Matter have had an impact.

    “Those have politicized a lot of people who haven’t been politicized and definitely with the younger voters,” said Walker-Canton.

    Volunteers handed out information or left it in mailboxes. They spent time talking with voters; some had already voted. They want to make sure everyone gets to the polls on Tuesday.

    “Right now a lot of people think it’s not so important,” said Walker-Canton. “They don’t know that their vote really counts.”

    They’ll be helping voters get to the polls by providing rides. Volunteers are also gathering information from voters about what issues are important to them. They’re looking to use it to help them past Election Day.

    “It’s going to be used to help us be able to go out into the community and listen a little bit more to their concerns,” said Jeffie Frazier [Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter, AKA Connection Committee, Chair], who was in the office working to get out the vote.

    Volunteers will be working Monday and Tuesday and they’re hoping more will join them to help them reach out to voters.  

    ---------------------------

    Video and article on the WTNH News Channel 8 website: http://wtnh.com/2016/11/06/greater-new-haven-naacp-gets-out-the-vote/

  • 29 Jan 2016 10:45 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Service Organization Known for Wearing Pink Goes Red for Heart Health Day   

    New Haven, Connecticut, January 22, 2016

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women, has committed to raising awareness of heart disease and stroke by designating every February as Heart Awareness Month. 

    The signature colors on the sorority crest are salmon pink and apple green but, for Heart Health Day, members of the Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter, serving the Greater New Haven community, will trade their adored pink for the color red to support the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® Movement.  Under Launching New Dimensions of ServiceSM, the sorority’s current programmatic theme, Pink Goes Red for Heart Health Day is expected to make a significant impact across communities, internationally, as each chapter of the sorority participates in its own effort to combat heart disease and stroke. 

    The Pink Goes Red “Stroll Patrol” for stroke and heart disease awareness will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at the Connecticut Post Mall, 1201 Boston Post Road in Milford, CT.  Members will “patrol” the mall distributing heart-healthy items and information provided by the American Heart Association.  The event includes a stroll, a long-standing tradition of Black Greek-lettered organizations usually done at parties or step shows involving a choreographed, moving line of an organization’s members.  The “Stroll Patrol” also encourages the community to participate in physical activity, an essential component of a heart-healthy lifestyle, through line dancing.  Music will be provided by the Herman Ham Group.

    “We're excited to help Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated raise awareness of heart disease and stroke.  Their event is sure to be fun and informative for shoppers of all ages,” said Danielle Consiglio, Marketing Manager for the Connecticut Post Mall. 

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 265,000 members in approximately 983 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, the continent of South Africa, and the Middle East. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-lettered organization for African-American women.” For more information on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and its programs, visit www.aka1908.com. For more information about Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter, visit www.akanewhaven.org.  

  • 11 Mar 2015 6:37 PM | Anonymous

    Members of Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter gathered at Fantasia of North Haven on March 7, 2015 to celebrate fifty years of service to the Greater New Haven community.  Click here for more information about the chapter's history. 

    View photos taken by The New Haven Register: 

    http://photos.newhavenregister.com/2015/03/07/photos-of-alpha-kappa-alpha-sorority-at-50th-anniversary-celebratory-luncheon/#1 

  • 29 Jun 2014 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    NEW HAVEN >> For three New Haven women, mentoring young women in their hometown is just one way they give back to the community that helped raise them.

    Born and raised in New Haven, the three women are part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Theta Epsilon Omega New Haven chapter.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded on Jan. 15, 1908, on the campus of Howard University.

    “It’s really based on the principles of sisterhood and service,” chapter President Nicole Murphy said.

    Theta Epsilon Omega has been serving the community for nearly 50 years. Members started their work out of the Dixwell Community Q House and moved to Wexler Grant School after the Q House closed.

    Their work is based on a vision set forth by the sorority’s international president every four years. Their most recent efforts are based off the 2010-14 Global Leadership through Timeless Service initiative set forth by President Carolyn House Stewart.

    The chapters localize the international initiative to reflect the unique needs of their communities. This July, a new set of initiatives will be unveiled at the annual convention.

    “Whatever the thrust has been internationally, we’ve been able to do it locally, and I would say, do it well,” Sondi Jackson said.

    Jackson is a New Haven native and has worked in New Haven Public Schools for more than 20 years. She is currently a speech pathologist at Wexler Grant School.

    Some of the chapter’s most notable work over the last four years has included the continuation of two scholarships, the Emerging Young Leaders program and a focus on health issues that disproportionately impact communities of color.

    The chapter has worked with the National Kidney Association, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association and pushed for civic engagement in New Haven.

    “The majority of our membership is really from New Haven and really has a strong desire and will to be able to give back to students and families in New Haven,” Murphy said.

    Murphy, a James Hillhouse High School graduate, works in Hartford but decided to join the New Haven chapter specifically to interact with New Haven residents.

    “I work in Hartford and have had opportunities to do community service in that area but it just didn’t feel as right to me,” she said. “I didn’t connect as much as I connect with the community service opportunities that are here. I want to be able to interact with students at Hillhouse High School.”

    The two scholarships continued this year include a nursing scholarship, the Susan Moore Lincoln Scholarship, at Gateway Community College, and the Theta Epsilon Omega AKA Scholarship, a four-year, renewable scholarship for high school seniors, valued at $4,000.

    Theta Epsilon Omega holds about four fundraisers a year to support the scholarships and other activities. Murphy said the relationship with New Haven Public Schools has been “invaluable” because it allows the women to borrow resources and utilize venues.

    “We’re very much focused on developing and preserving communities of color, so any issues or any needs that are affecting communities of colors ... Be it in the realm of health, be it in the realm of economic security, be it in the realm of social justice …” Murphy said.

    One program the group is particularly proud of is the international Emerging Young Leaders program.

    The Emerging Young Leaders program is replicated across the United States in about 981 chapters of AKA. To date, about 15,000 girls have enrolled in the program across the U.S. In New Haven, about 20 girls have come through the program since 2010.

    Taryn Anderson, co-chairwoman of New Haven’s EYL, said EYL targets girls in sixth through eighth grade because it’s a “pivotal time in young women’s development.”

    To qualify for the program, the young women must have decent grades and an interest in community service and leadership.

    “That is our focus with them, encouraging their leadership skills and also helping them to develop a larger sense of community and community service,” Anderson said.

    The program featured “academies” on civic engagement, time management skills, public speaking, leadership and other areas.

    Tanaiza Glass, 12, heard about the program from a family mother and figured it would be a good experience.

    “I did take away how to be a polite and respectful young lady, how to carry myself, how to have etiquette, mostly just how to be a young lady,” Glass said.

    Recognizing changing times, Anderson said the program covers some of the newer challenges youth face, such as cyber bullying and developing an appropriate online identity. Students are taught to be aware of what they post on social media and are taught about “safety and safe space” so they know where they can go and who they can talk to if they feel unsafe.

    Students also worked on community service projects, collecting and packaging toiletries to send to U.S. military members deployed to Afghanistan. The young women later participated in community service alongside AKA members, such as a walk for sickle cell anemia.

    “I think that speaks to the importance of showing, not only just telling them, these are the things you should be doing,” she said.

    Having benefited from mentoring programs themselves, the women agreed on the importance of mentors and youth programming. Murphy said mentoring can be a “make or break” factor in many people’s lives. For Murphy, mentoring and similar programs exposed her to culture, public speaking and appropriate social interactions.

    “It’s about commitment and consistency,” Murphy said. “As long as we show up, and they show up, then I think the return on that investment is going to be invaluable.”

    “When you talk about mentoring in general, you have to be committed,” she said. “Your mentees count on you and they look to you to provide that feedback, to provide that input, to provide that impact on their lives overall.”

    Jackson echoed Murphy’s sentiments and said it’s particularly important that the women are “role models” and teach “the importance of giving back to your community.”

    “It’s especially important for our young people to know who we are and that there are people who are interested in giving back,” Jackson said.

    Call Rachel Chinapen at 203-789-5714. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with New Haven Register editors at AskTheRegister.com


    NEW HAVEN >> For three New Haven women, mentoring young women in their hometown is just one way they give back to the community that helped raise them.

    Born and raised in New Haven, the three women are part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Theta Epsilon Omega New Haven chapter.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded on Jan. 15, 1908, on the campus of Howard University.

    “It’s really based on the principles of sisterhood and service,” chapter President Nicole Murphy said.

    Theta Epsilon Omega has been serving the community for nearly 50 years. Members started their work out of the Dixwell Community Q House and moved to Wexler Grant School after the Q House closed.

    Their work is based on a vision set forth by the sorority’s international president every four years. Their most recent efforts are based off the 2010-14 Global Leadership through Timeless Service initiative set forth by President Carolyn House Stewart.

    The chapters localize the international initiative to reflect the unique needs of their communities. This July, a new set of initiatives will be unveiled at the annual convention.

    “Whatever the thrust has been internationally, we’ve been able to do it locally, and I would say, do it well,” Sondi Jackson said.

    Jackson is a New Haven native and has worked in New Haven Public Schools for more than 20 years. She is currently a speech pathologist at Wexler Grant School.

    Some of the chapter’s most notable work over the last four years has included the continuation of two scholarships, the Emerging Young Leaders program and a focus on health issues that disproportionately impact communities of color.

    The chapter has worked with the National Kidney Association, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association and pushed for civic engagement in New Haven.

    “The majority of our membership is really from New Haven and really has a strong desire and will to be able to give back to students and families in New Haven,” Murphy said.

    Murphy, a James Hillhouse High School graduate, works in Hartford but decided to join the New Haven chapter specifically to interact with New Haven residents.

    “I work in Hartford and have had opportunities to do community service in that area but it just didn’t feel as right to me,” she said. “I didn’t connect as much as I connect with the community service opportunities that are here. I want to be able to interact with students at Hillhouse High School.”

    The two scholarships continued this year include a nursing scholarship, the Susan Moore Lincoln Scholarship, at Gateway Community College, and the Theta Epsilon Omega AKA Scholarship, a four-year, renewable scholarship for high school seniors, valued at $4,000.

    Theta Epsilon Omega holds about four fundraisers a year to support the scholarships and other activities. Murphy said the relationship with New Haven Public Schools has been “invaluable” because it allows the women to borrow resources and utilize venues.

    “We’re very much focused on developing and preserving communities of color, so any issues or any needs that are affecting communities of colors ... Be it in the realm of health, be it in the realm of economic security, be it in the realm of social justice …” Murphy said.

    One program the group is particularly proud of is the international Emerging Young Leaders program.

    The Emerging Young Leaders program is replicated across the United States in about 981 chapters of AKA. To date, about 15,000 girls have enrolled in the program across the U.S. In New Haven, about 20 girls have come through the program since 2010.

    Taryn Anderson, co-chairwoman of New Haven’s EYL, said EYL targets girls in sixth through eighth grade because it’s a “pivotal time in young women’s development.”

    To qualify for the program, the young women must have decent grades and an interest in community service and leadership.

    “That is our focus with them, encouraging their leadership skills and also helping them to develop a larger sense of community and community service,” Anderson said.

    The program featured “academies” on civic engagement, time management skills, public speaking, leadership and other areas.

    Tanaiza Glass, 12, heard about the program from a family mother and figured it would be a good experience.

    “I did take away how to be a polite and respectful young lady, how to carry myself, how to have etiquette, mostly just how to be a young lady,” Glass said.

    Recognizing changing times, Anderson said the program covers some of the newer challenges youth face, such as cyber bullying and developing an appropriate online identity. Students are taught to be aware of what they post on social media and are taught about “safety and safe space” so they know where they can go and who they can talk to if they feel unsafe.

    Students also worked on community service projects, collecting and packaging toiletries to send to U.S. military members deployed to Afghanistan. The young women later participated in community service alongside AKA members, such as a walk for sickle cell anemia.

    “I think that speaks to the importance of showing, not only just telling them, these are the things you should be doing,” she said.

    Having benefited from mentoring programs themselves, the women agreed on the importance of mentors and youth programming. Murphy said mentoring can be a “make or break” factor in many people’s lives. For Murphy, mentoring and similar programs exposed her to culture, public speaking and appropriate social interactions.

    “It’s about commitment and consistency,” Murphy said. “As long as we show up, and they show up, then I think the return on that investment is going to be invaluable.”

    “When you talk about mentoring in general, you have to be committed,” she said. “Your mentees count on you and they look to you to provide that feedback, to provide that input, to provide that impact on their lives overall.”

    Jackson echoed Murphy’s sentiments and said it’s particularly important that the women are “role models” and teach “the importance of giving back to your community.”

    “It’s especially important for our young people to know who we are and that there are people who are interested in giving back,” Jackson said.

    New Haven Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter has 50-year history of serving the community

  • 21 Jan 2014 11:29 PM | Anonymous

    Fox CT News, by Ayana Harry, New Haven Bureau Reporter

    Video Story

  • 21 Jan 2014 11:23 PM | Anonymous

    New Haven Independent, by Paul Bass

    Medical student Kumba Hinds celebrated the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s birthday by guiding middle-schoolers onto the path she forged.

    Hinds was one of dozens of adults showed up to one of Monday’s main New Haven’s events in honor of the slain civil rights leader: a day-long “Drum Mayor for Justice” celebration at Wexler-Grant Community School.

    Some, like Hinds, came to run workshops advising young people on staying out of prison, getting to college, relaxing, eating right, managing money. Others came to sell beauty or art products at a fair in the cafeteria. All said they were there in the spirit of King.

    Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison brought voter-registration cards and lessons about participating in government for her “Politics 101” workshop. This is her third year running the MLK Day workshop. “The big thing with Dr. King, he understood how politics, understanding government, is going to be the piece that makes us free as black people. Not just blacks, all people. I want my community to understand the politics of New Haven so they can participate in this process,” said Morrison, who noted that King belonged to Alpha Phi Alpha, one of the “divine nine” black fraternities and sororities. She belongs to Alpha Kappa Alpha.
    Emmanuel Nwachuka joined Hinds in leading a worship on “navigating the education system from high school to graduate school.” “The more youth that we inspire to seek higher education, it’s going to create awareness. It’s going to help make the world a better place. I think that was Dr. King’s dreamundefinedto leave the world a better place” in part through higher education, Nwachuka said. Added Hinds: “We want to get them early so they can start thinking about different professions they might want to pursue and provide them some concrete steps on getting there.”

     

    A similar dream inspired Derick Sampson to don a cheetah-style backpack and stand next to a man in a cheetah costume in the Wexler cafeteria fair. They worked a table for a not-for-profit called My Dream Cheetah. (CHEETAH is an acronym “Connect to Higher Education Electronic Tools Application and Help.”) Sampson’s mother, Paulette Lawrence, created the not-for-profit to start kids thinking about college at a young age. She designed a Cheetah wind-up toy, wrote songs, created books. “Dr King had a dream at one point. That’s everyone’s favorite quote. My mom had a dream. When I was in high school, sophomore year, she started this,” Sampson said. (His mom wasn’t present at the booth Monday.) “She felt that a lot of my friends weren’t interested in going to school.What she wants to do is get that mindset in young kids, you don’t necessarily need to work a 9-to-5 labor job, if you apply yourself at an early age.”

    Personal shopper Alfreda Warner of New Haven credited King in part for her decision to launch V’s Accessories (“True girlfriends are like great pieces of jewelryundefinedbright, beautiful and always in style!”), wares of which she displayed Monday. “He’s helped us to move on,” she said of King. “He said that he believes in the dream; that dream has inspired me to pursue this dream of accessories.”

    Two women working the Mary Kay Cosmetics booth had a King spin, too. Shirley Ellis-West, who runs the street outreach program at the New Haven Family Alliance, has begun developing a side cosmetics business with the help of veteran Mary Kay “Independent Beauty Consultant” Dani Nixon. “Mary Kay is about beautifying yourself, keeping yourself healthy, your skin healthy particularly [for] women of color,” Ellis-West said as she sat with Nixon Monday. “It has evolved into some wonderful products for women of color. Dr. King talked years ago of blacks and whites coming together. This is one example of that.”

    New Haven Independent Article

  • 21 Jan 2014 11:18 PM | Anonymous

    New Haven Register, by Abbe Smith, Register Staff

    NEW HAVEN -- Hundreds of people gathered at Wexler-Grant School Monday to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and to engage in community building through education and service.

    More than 200 volunteers came out for the annual Martin Luther King conference, a decades-old tribute event that features music, free food, civil rights reflections, raffles and workshops for students, families and community members. The event was organized by local graduate chapters of the Alpha Kappa sorority and Omega Psi Phi fraternity, with help from the school district and numerous nonprofits, and donations from businesses.

    "It's important to maintain tradition and history and, more importantly, to celebrate this day by giving back to the community," said Sondi Jackson, one of the lead organizers of the conference and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

    She said the purpose of the workshops is to "uplift the community" and inspire people to think about the world around them.

    United Way of Greater New Haven helped recruit volunteers for the event, which featured remarks from state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Wexler-Grant Principal Sabrina Breland and Ward 22 Alderwoman Jeanette Morrison. The Rev. Brian Bellamy of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church gave the keynote address.

    The workshops cater to different age groups. Programs for kindergarten through second grade students included storytelling about the Civil Rights Movement, fire safety, African dance and drumming. Kids in third through fifth grades got to try beading, dramatic arts and line dancing. Middle schoolers learned about bullying, self-esteem and planning for the future. High school students joined health discussions, learned about Internet safety and heard about the New Haven Promise college scholarship program.

    Adult offerings included workshops on education topics such as the life of Rosa Parks, but also featured practical discussions about starting a business, navigating break-ups or divorce, estate and funeral planning, mental health treatments and weight loss.

    In a workshop for young children about King's legacy, Al Lucas, director of the city's Office of Legislative Services, urged kids to remember the civil rights leader's life and dream of a better world, rather than focusing on his assassination. He told students about King's dedication to Gandhi's principles of nonviolence and his use of civil disobedience to fight racism and effect change. And Lucas reminded students that King was once a kid just like them.

    "What do you want to be when you grow up," he asked the kids. Hands shot up and students vowed to be presidents, teachers, toy makers and principals.

    In another room, youth mentor Timothy Brown engaged middle schoolers in discussion about King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. He asked students if they think King's "dream" for justice and equality has been realized. Jasmine Brown, a student at Elm City College Preparatory School and one of 200 volunteers at the conference, answered "no."

    "That is not what's going on right now," she said, adding she believes society is moving closer to King's vision of equality.

    While some of the workshops focused on King, others addressed practical issues and served to solve problems facing youth and adults. High school students learned about budgeting basics from presenter Terrence Jennings. Merieta Bayati, owner of the Girlie Girl Shop in New Haven, talked to a group of women about starting their own business and being successful even in a bad economy.

    "It's all about how you carry yourself. You have to believe in yourself," she said.

    Link to New Haven Register Article

  • 14 Nov 2013 10:30 PM | Anonymous
    By Shahid Abdul-Karim, New Haven Register
     

    NEW HAVEN >> Vera Esdaile, Nicole Murphy and Doris Dumas said they believe mayor-elect Toni Harp’s victory was a momentous one for woman in the city.

    And they are proud that she is black.

    “I believe for all women it was awesome to have elected the first female mayor of this city and she is African American,” said Vera Esdaile, 48, a state social worker.

    “I felt proud in that moment and proud to be a part of her historic campaign,” she said.

    Harp, 66, a state senator, beat Alderman Justin Elicker, 38, last Tuesday in a tough race to fill the seat Mayor John DeStefano Jr. held for 20 years.

    Harp won 54.6 percent of the vote to Elicker’s 45.3 percent.

    “I felt a sense of pride and I said to her that night while hugging her, ‘you make us all proud,’” said Doris Dumas, 49, a New Haven native and James Hillhouse High School graduate.

    “It’s a shame in this day and age we’re still having to see ‘the first of,’ the glass ceiling has been broken and it’s time to get to work.” Dumas said.

    Harp is the city’s 50th mayor and is among 138 black women leading city’s in the country, according to Vanessa Williams, CEO/executive director of the National Conference of Black Mayors.

    “I’m excited to see someone who looks like me in this leadership role, but more importantly, it’s about the future and how it’s the beginning of a new era for New Haven,” said Nicole Murphy, 37, also a New Haven native.

    “This is an opportunity for all of us to rally together and be supportive of her vision to make this city great,” said Murphy, president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Theta Epsilon Omega chapter.

    The image of black women

    In some well-known instances in the entertainment industry, black women have been stereotyped, and according to a recent feature in Essence Magazine about a study of black women being portrayed in the media found many negative results, including black women labeled as baby mamas, black Barbie, gold-digger, unhealthy and fat.

    But all three women said Harp’s election will help change the image of black women and bring some dignity to the community.

    “I think she has a vested interest in black New Haven, she’s not removed from the needs of the community,” said Murphy, also Hillhouse High School graduate. “The image will change, but we have to have patience. I feel like her leadership is sincere and we (blacks) don’t hesitate to reach out to her, because whenever she see’s an opportunity to better the New Haven community she does it.”

    Dumas said Harp understands the issues of jobs, economic development and education as it relates to the black community’s interest.

    “It’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not magic, I think her vision and leadership will help change the image for us and the city,” Dumas said.

    “I hope we (blacks) understand she’s New Haven’s mayor and when she starts doing things, she has to embrace the broader community; not just us,” she said.

    Harp, who has been a state senator for the past 21 years, is noted as a consensus builder and received endorsements from the local, state and national democratic political machines.

    “I’m humbled by it and had no idea people felt that way,” Harp said when told woman the city are inspired by her win. “When I see little girls they get all excited and it makes me feel really good.”

    “I’m glad that finally in our lifetime that African American women can become mayors of cities,” Harp said.

    She inherits budget and violence issues, but also a downtown that’s thriving and a public school system that has become a model for national reform.

    Throughout the campaign, black voters stressed the need for more jobs, additional resources for youth programs and the need to address the alarming inequalities of wealth distribution facing New Haven.

    Yet, Esdaile said she is a realist and that issues in the black community have to be fixed by the black community.

    “It’s unrealistic for everyone to think since we have a black mayor now that all of our issues in the black community are going to be fixed overnight,” Esdaile said.

    “It’s going to take the village to fix the image of the black community and it’s not going to happen just because we have a black mayor,” she said. “We can’t expect her to work magic for us, we have to do our part with our children making sure we’re on top of what they’re doing,”

    Harp has been criticized by her rivals and some in the black community of her closeness with New Haven’s mostly white unions, arguing the unions will get undue benefits in exchange for their support of her campaign.

    But Esdaile said people say negative things about Harp, yet aren’t involved themselves.

    “Don’t just stand on the sideline and complain, get involved with the community and things that can make a difference,” she said.

    Murphy said people in New Haven have a very strong sense of pride for their city, Harp is familiar to everyone and “she has the respect of a diverse pool of people in the city,” she said.

    Gun violence in the community

    The city’s gun violence has led to 17 homicides to date this year and drew national attention as federal authorities offering assistance this year in Newhallville, after gun fire erupted in their every day for a week.

    During the campaign Harp said she was traumatized by what she found in Newhallville, where residents were afraid to leave their homes and felt menaced by youths involved in drug dealing and shootings.

    Blacks represent 35.4 percent of the city’s population.

    The majority of the homicide victims and known suspects in this year’s homicides are young black men.

    Esdaile said the ‘it takes the village’ concept is far removed from the community.

    “It’s about empowering parents. Some parents aren’t empowered, that’s one reason why we see so much violence in our community,”she said. “We have so many different resources and programs in our community for parents, but they have to involve kids in the positive things that work.” she said. “The churches could be doing more for the kids in the commuinity as well.”

    Murphy said ending violence in the community is a dirty job and some people are afraid to get out into the community.

    “We need to talk to those people that are out there in the community and find ways of how we can help,” Murphy said.

    “Finding out what’s lacking that causes our youth to have a blatant disrespect for human life is key; it’s like a game for many of them until it’s to late,” she said.

    Dumas said she is tired of seeing life lost by homicide or the prison system, as “no one wins’ she said.

    Harp said she wants to get the Q House board of directors up and running again with programs offered in schools and other space within a few months. She expects to ask churches and Yale-New Haven Hospital to help with the funding.

    Contact Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-789-5614. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com

    http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20131111/black-women-share-pride-in-harps-election-as-new-haven-mayor

     

  • 08 May 2013 4:27 PM | Anonymous

    A silver alert has been issued for the 20 year old Alyssiah Marie Wiley, a student at Eastern Connecticut State University. She is the grand-daughter of Evelyn Streater-Frizzle, one of Theta Epsilon Omega's members. Please spread the word, pray for her safe return and contact the authorities with any information that may help bring her home.

    Please help her family and the police by sharing this post via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.  Thank you!

    Family pleads for information on missing ECSU student

    Search continues for missing ECSU student (with photos)

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