UNION — The charitable arm of an area chapter of one of the oldest African-American sororities in America recently extended that charity to organizations in Union and Chester counties in keeping with the ideals of the sorority’s founder.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded in 1908 at Howard University and Incorporated five years later in the District of Columbia. According to its website (www.aka1908.com), the sorority was founded by Ethel Hedgeman “who dreamed of creating a support network for women with like minds coming together for mutual uplift, and coalescing their talents and strengths for the benefit of others.”
Since being founded at Howard University by Hedgeman and eight other coeds, Alpha Kappa Alpha “has grown into a force of more than 290,000 collegiate members and alumnae, constituting 1,007 chapters in 42 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Germany, Liberia, South Korea, Japan, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East.”
That force includes the Zeta Mu Omega Chapter in Gastonia whose members recently visited Union County, bringing two $400 checks, the latest in a series of donations the chapter has made since the establishment of “Twenty Pearls Inc.,” its non-profit arm. Taking part in the presentations were Twenty Pearls Inc. Chairman Barbara Dillard, Zeta Mu Omega Gastonia Chapter President Beverly Tribble, and fellow AKA Sorority member Katherine Pendergrass.
Dillard said that Twenty Pearls was established in 2008 as a 501c3 non-profit to serve as “the non-profit arm of the chapter.” Since its founding, Dillard said Twenty Pearls has made donations to charitable and public service organizations in Gastonia, Charlotte, Chester and, now, Union. She said the addition of Union is due to the presence of Pendergrass who is the sorority’s only member in Union County and a member of the Twenty Pearls board.
Dillard, Tribble, and Pendergrass presented the first check for $400 to John W. Williams, Executive Director of Turning Point of Chester Inc. Founded in 1986, Turning Point Ministry of Chester provides assistance to recovering alcoholics and persons seeking to recover from alcoholism. The presentation was made at the SCWorks Office on Main Street in downtown Union.
The second check for $400 was presented by Dillard, Tribble, and Pendergrass at the Union County Council on Aging Union office to Council on Aging Director Tim Black.
Dillard said the funds donated are raised by the group through a variety of fundraisers including fashion shows, raffles, and car washes as well as voluntary donations. It’s main fundraiser, however, is a Debutante Ball where young women in the 11th grade of school are introduced into the sorority. In addition to raising money for the donations it makes to organizations like the Turning Point Ministry of Chester and Union County Council on Aging, Dillard said the fundraisers also raise money for scholarships.
Over the years, the Zeta Mu Omega Gastonia Chapter of AKA has given more than $10,000 in donations to organizations in the region, a number of that now includes the donations made in Union County. Dillard said the sorority’s decision to do so is due to its efforts to realize the goal of its founder of AKA being a network of support for its members and working together to benefit others.
“We are excited to be here to give to two organizations here in Union and Chester in support of our sorority sister, Katherine, and to show we love the community as much as she does,” Dillard said.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Zeta Mu Omega Gastonia Chapter President Beverly Tribble (far left), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member and Twenty Pearls board member Katherine Pendergrass (right), and Twenty Pearls Inc. Chairman and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member Barbara Dillard (far right) present John W. Williams, Executive Director of Turning Point Ministry in Chester, with a check for $400. Twenty Pearls is the non-profit arm of the Zeta Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha which made its first donations in Union in December.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.