Throughout 2020, the Upsilon Sigma Omega (USO) Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, implemented programs of service that enhanced the social, economic, and educational well-being of the local, national and international communities. WIth a program theme of Exemplifying Excellence Through Sustainable Service, chapter members worked within five program targets, all designed to advance the mission of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Program target areas included:
- Target 1: HBCU for Life: A Call to Action
- Target 2: Women’s Healthcare and Wellness
- Target 3: Building Your Economic Legacy
- Target 4: The Arts!
- Target 5: Global Impact
The chapter also offered its signature program, #CAPSM (College Admissions Process) to high school juniors and seniors. The program provided a hands-on approach to the admissions process, covering all the steps from researching various colleges to completing the application process.
Throughout the year, the chapter made conscious efforts to focus on Entrepreneurship and the Black Dollar 365. This initiative highlights and promotes successful African-American owned businesses, with an aim toward spawning new entrepreneurial ventures in our communities by encouraging intentional support and leveraging the power of the black dollar 365 days a year. Additionally, the chapter also made consistent efforts to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Recognizing that HBCU funding is one of the primary obstacles that threaten the long-term growth and survival of HBCUs, members financially supported HBCUs through direct donations to schools, participation in the HBCU Impact Day, and through alumnae chapter memberships. Additional year-long efforts were made regarding voter registration and census work.
The chapter also spent time throughout the year focusing on Target 5: Global Impact. USO engaged in programming designed to enhance the international footprint of the sorority. Efforts were materialized through Soles 4 Souls, the Lions Club, and the Pillowcase project. USO collected gently-worn shoes and transported the shoes to specified locations, for the distribution of shoes around the world. USO also participated in an eyeglass initiative designed to prevent blindness, help restore eyesight, and improve eye health and eye care for millions of people around the world by donating used eyeglasses in partnership with local Lions Clubs. Lastly, USO continued to use pillowcases to make dresses for little girls and shirts for little boys. The pillowcase dresses and shirts were sent to Haiti to provide clothing for children in need.
January: USO began the year by celebrating its 112th Founders’ Day. A Pearlfection Mixer was hosted on January 15th, at Genesis Family Restaurant. During this event, members from the local and surrounding communities gathered to honor the sorority’s founders, reactivate inactive members, and kick off a new year of service. The chapter then committed to a day of service, on January 20, 2020, to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For the third consecutive year, USO volunteered at the BTU Rest Home in Bennettsville, SC. Members spent time playing rounds of Bingo with the residents and donated small gifts as prizes (i.e. socks, chips, drinks, mints, toiletries, word puzzle books, etc.) Following this service event, chapter members attended the NAACP’s community program at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.
February: On February 7th, USO joined the American Heart Association in the fight against heart disease in order to improve the health of all women. On this special day, Alpha Kappa Alpha women took off their pink and wore red for the day to raise awareness of this deadly disease and promote life changes that will increase the longevity and quality of the lives of women around the globe. Chapter efforts continued into the month of February with members attending the Cluster VII Joint Founders’ Day Celebration in Florence, SC. Cluster VII comprises chapters from Bennettsville, Cheraw, Manning, Camden, Darlington, Florence, Sumter, Marion, Conway, Columbia, Lancaster, and Hemingway. The joint two-day event was held February 7-8, 2020. Chapter members participated in health screenings, sisterly relations activities, and program/rededication activities in honor of the sorority’s 112th Founders’ Day. Members heard from their Regional Director, Carolyn G. Randolph, their Cluster VII Coordinator, Andrea Favor, and other representatives from chapters within the cluster. Significant milestones were also recognized during the event. The following local members were recognized, Barbara Abraham for 50 (Golden) years of membership and Adrienne Ash Hersey for 25 (Silver) years of membership.
April: The chapter conducted several activities for Target 2: Women’s Healthcare and Wellness. Recognition was given to chapter members serving as “Sheros on the Frontline” during the global pandemic. Additionally, the chapter hosted a Wellness Wednesday series with a focus on walking/exercising. The Nutrition for Life series ran parallel to these efforts, as chapter members shared healthy recipes via social media. April concluded with “Showers of Love”, recognizing members with 25 and 50 years of service to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
May: Targets 1 and 4 were the focus during May. Chapter members recognized educators during Teacher Appreciation Week, as well as hosted an event for high school students entitled “College: It’s a Different World.” During this session, students heard from local college students about their experiences, challenges, and the advice they would give to students planning to enter college. Students also engaged with a financial aid professional regarding scholarships, grants, and overall financial aid. In support of Target 4: The Arts, USO hosted a virtual watch party for Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” Chapter members also completed a “Celebrating the Local Arts” series, where local community members were spotlighted for their contributions and current works within the Arts.
June: Prior to the summer break, which occurs during the months of July and August, USO held its annual chapter retreat. Members were engaged in workshops, sisterly relations activities, and planning for the remainder of the year. USO also continued Celebrating the Local Arts, by highlighting more artists from the local community.
September: USO members joined the campaign, “Wear a Mask, It’s a Serious Matter” in efforts to bring awareness to COVID-19 and safety precautions. Twice within the month, photos of members wearing masks were submitted and put into a video. The videos were then circulated on social media. USO also made donations to the Community Kitchen, and replenished the Blessing Boxes located throughout the county. Over 60 bags were disbursed and each bag included food items, snacks, hand sanitizer, and a mask.
October: Chapter members engaged in additional sisterly relations activities including a reflective presentation entitled, Sisters Forever, and a virtual Escape Room. The chapter also donated to the city’s Trunk or Treat event, and recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Day/Month. Members of the chapter recorded videos giving facts and tips to promote breast cancer awareness. Additionally, testimonial videos were posted by breast cancer survivors as well to tell of their journey, provide input on early detection, and to provide encouragement.
November: USO members engaged in a sisterly relations activity, Thankful for My Sisters, where members recognized other members and the reasons for being thankful. This activity was conducted during the regular chapter meeting. Members also completed a Sisterly Self-Care Event, to promote self care and increase bonding amongst members.Lastly, USO members adopted precincts on Election Day by serving as poll watchers and giving out drinks and snacks.
December: USO concluded the 2020 service year with a virtual event for high school students, entitled College Application Tips. Students learned several tips and strategies related to the college applications, submissions, fees, etc. The chapter also made several donations to community organizations and families in need. Sword of Truth and House of J were two of the organizations, and families were adopted through Marlboro County School District and the district’s support app Purposity.