Sometimes, when people hear the words fraternities and sororities, their minds and imagine wander. However, such wandering typically drifts towards the stereotypical images portrayed in films such as Animal House, or a situation in which an organization's members are involved in activities ranging from the silly to borderline self-destructive.
However, this is more of an exception than a rule. In fact, a number of such organization in metro-Atlanta aren't merely about having a party or just getting together for a social event. A number are involved in a balance of programs and services designed for community uplift and empowerment. While such news doesn't always come across the 10 o'clock news or other publication, during the past year, a number of the Black Greek Letter fraternities and sororities, including a number of the area chapters, are firmly entrenched in community action.
Fraternities such as Alpha Phi Alpha (established in 1906), Kappa Alpha Psi (1911), Omega Psi Phi (1911), Phi Beta Sigma (1914), and Iota Phi Theta (1963) are grounded in local, state-wide, and even national service oriented programming, all of which are critical focus areas which are part of their establishment. With histories ranging from 49 to 106 years, all have made significant historical and present day contributions in the public and private sector.
Some of the area Alpha chapters provided programs related (but not limited) to career development, support of families during the early portion of the holiday season, male-mentoring, and partnering with other organizations in supporting children who are sick and shut-in during the holiday season. As part of their signature event, one of the metro-area Kappa chapters raised funds for their Guide Right program which provides male-mentoring as well.
While not necessarily a chapter-related program, Chozen Talent Development Agency's leadership (Adam Burch) development of the arts is an example of the larger presence that a number of members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. has in this and fields similar to that of their Alpha and Kappa colleagues. Multiple chapters of Phi Beta Sigma supported the arts and scholarship, Likewise, the area chapter of Iota Phi Theta re-established its series designed for working professionals to meet, greet, network, and establish partnerships grounded in community and business related endeavors.
Likewise, sororities such as Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Delta Sigma Theta (1913), Zeta Phi Beta (1920), and Sigma Gamma Rho (1922) provided programs of service and impact during the year to serve the metro-Atlanta area.
Area Alpha Kappa Alpha chapters provides programs related to voter education, and one of its members (Anneka Jenkins) plays a key leadership role with an area non-profit with a focus on womens' empowerment. Some of the area chapters of Delta Sigma Theta provide similar programs in working with young women from the ages of 3 years to 8th grade, providing scholarship opportunities, and a growing standing of support for the arts. Through its signature events to support its reinvestment in the lives of women and young people, as well as initiatives to support teachers, area chapters of Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta (respectively) are also making their presence felt.
Service, leadership, and community involvement is a way of life for many members of these regarded and respected organizations, as they align with their larger missions, purposes, and rich histories. This, along with providing a sense of balance in regards to social events and community programs, provide such organization a means of further community integration, involvement, and development.
It's not about resting on their laurels. It's about responding to and helping problem-solve given the needs of the community.