Sorority honors King by giving back

Sorority honors King by giving back
January 22
00:00 2015

A team of young volunteers serve hot food.

The Phi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. provided clothes, food and education to the community for its annual Martin Luther King Day of Service project Monday.

The Phi Omega Chapter has a history of honoring King through service, often lending volunteer muscle to causes like the restoration of the historic Odd Fellows Cemetery. While some did participate in the annual restoration effort of the historic black cemetery that morning, the sorority devoted much of its resources to its own outreach program at the Ivy Arms Community Center.

An overwhelming amount of donated items, too numerous to count, filled half the community center at Ivy Arms, an affordable apartment complex the Phi Omega Chapter owns. There were racks and tables of clothes, purses, school supplies and other items. The other half of the room was filled with more than a hundred chairs for a presentation from top school system officials on how parents can help their children be successful in school. To top it all off, soup, chili and assorted deserts were served up to attendees at the event and bags of canned food were given to them to take home.

“We’ve fed; we’ve clothed; we’ve educated. We can’t do much more than that,” said LaDessa Cunningham-Pearson, co-chair of the event’s clothing committee.


Phi Omega Outreach Chair Carolyn Parker (second from left) with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System Superintendent Beverly Emory, Mathematics Program Manager Velvet Simington, Language/Arts Program Manager Janie Costello and Chief Academic Officer Kenneth Simington.

Organizers were expecting about 100 attendees but closer to 200 showed up, filling the center to capacity. About 90 volunteers helped, including cheerleaders from Glenn High School, law students from Wake Forest University, AKAs from Winston-Salem State University and community volunteers.

It was standing room only at the educational presentation, which was given by Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Beverly Emory, Chief Academic Officer Kenneth Simington, Mathematics Program Manager Velvet Simington and Language/Arts Program Manager Janie Costello.  About 25 girls in the Lil’ Ashley’s Angels organization donned their signature pink shirts as they sat in on the educational session. It was part of a big day for the girls that began with walking in the Dr. Martin Luther Jr. Day Parade and ended with them catching a showing of “Selma,” the new movie about King’s voting rights march in Alabama.

Ashley’s Angels is a program for girls 6-16 that focuses on life skills, volunteerism and motivating its young participants.

Co-founder Blondella Johnson said they always do something to honor the King holiday, like a trip last year to participate in the King Day Parade in Myrtle Beach. She said it’s important for organizations like hers and the AKAs to remind people of King’s legacy.

“A lot of people don’t know anything about civil rights and how it all began,” she said.


Veronica Ford, Maxine Whitney and Dominique Benson give away gloves.

Many families flocked to the center to take advantage of all the offerings. They worked their way through makeshift aisles of clothes to find what they wanted. Twana Stuckey  got dress clothes, shoes and purses. She works two jobs to make ends meet and appreciates the much-needed items. Stuckey’s daughter, Latisha, was also there, as were her grandchildren, Philip Stuckey and Tony Roseboro Jr. Twana Stuckey said she marched in the Martin Luther King Day parade earlier, an annual tradition for her. She was glad to see such outreach on a day devoted to King.

“I enjoy it, it makes my heart happy,” she said. “He was a great man. A lot of things have changed, but not everything.”

Organizers say the clothing that was left after the event will be donated to schools and the clothing pantry of a local church.

“I think it has been phenomenal,” Carolyn Parker, chair of the Phi Omega outreach committee, said of the day’s event.

Blondella Johnson (far left) poses with members of the group she co-founded, Ashley’s Angels.

Blondella Johnson (far left) poses with members of the group she co-founded, Ashley’s Angels.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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