by ALLAN APPEL | Jan 15, 2024 2:24 pm
More than 200 volunteers from 23 different African-American led fraternities, sororities, and civic and service organizations gathered for a “We Are One” day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Day.
The event took place Monday morning at the Wexler-Grant Community School on Foote Street in the Dixwell neighborhood.
The service consisted of collecting and packing 300 bags of groceries, which were then delivered a short distance down Dixwell Avenue to the Women of the Village Community Food Pantry, at the Charles Street police substation, to be distributed to families in need beginning tomorrow.
The Black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, to which MLK belonged, was founded in 1906. The local chapter Monday contributed 300 cans of tomato, minestrone, chicken and rice, and other healthy soups to the drive. Leading Monday’s event were the women of Theta Epsilon Omega,the local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Participants Cynthia Farmer Streeter and her daughter Sabrina, from one of the local chapters of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NANBPWC), reflected the multi-generational, follow-my-example style of the festive gathering. Youth division President Nevaeh Simon-Burroughs of Metropolitan Business Academy is following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, who were past presidents of the club.
Simon-Burroughs said the MLK event and the club participation give her “a stronger sense of connection to my community.”
The local AKA chapter has been organizing MLK Day events for more than 50 years, said the AKA chapter’s Sondi Jacksons. The restrictions on gathering pursuant to Covid in 2020 shifted the event focus from a workshop/conference/career development format to food distribution for today’s 300 families, triple the number of the first Covid day of service.
“Why do we have so many hungry children?!” Rev. Antona Smith challenged her listeners in her invocational remarks, before the packers dived into their work. She’s from the Southern Connecticut State University Pi Lambda Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, yet another historic African-American sorority founded at Howard University in 1920.
“Let’s pray,” she said, “that we have changes so we won’t have to have so many food drives!”