For this episode of Community Conversations we spoke with Marcia Leftwich of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Omicron Chi Omega Chapter.
Q: I’m going to go ahead and let you talk about your organization. What is the name of your organization?
A: We’re Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Omicron Chi Omega Chapter in Woodbridge, Virginia. And we serve the Prince William County, and we have been here 31 years.
Q: So, what kind of things do you do in the community?
A: So, we serve the community by providing community service to the community. We provide shelter and things like seasonal wraps for those who need coats. We have coat drives, we provide canned goods, we provide mental health issue services as far as information about mental health, stroke awareness. We actually have five target areas that we promote within the Prince William County.
Q: What are they?
A: So, our target 1 is education enrichment, where we have mentoring for our students – it’s called Ascend. And we provide mentoring for high school young men and young women. So right now that’s at Potomac High School – we do that weekly. Target 2 is our health promotion. Where we have three of those targets where we work with the Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, and American Stroke [Association]. We provide information in those target areas as well to promote healthy eating, to prevent stroke, things to prevent heart attacks, and ideally to abate those issues in our community, Prince William in particular. And the third area is the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) association that we work with mental health awareness. We try to abate the things people are dealing with in mental health, and to provide information about depression, and those things that sometimes people don’t understand about mental health awareness.
Target 3 is family strengthening. We try to promote financial literacy, we also try to promote, again, seasonal wraps, people who are in need of coats – we do coat drives – canned goods, things like that. Target 4 is our playground mobilization and environmental stability, where we will give information about how to promote, how to live in an environment and reduce your footprint. How to also recycle, just basic things – recycling canned goods, turning off the lights, unplugging things, which can also promote reducing your footprint. And we also just had a great event last Saturday, where we revitalized a playground, and we do that every year where we help revitalize one of the elementary school playgrounds, and we go in and plant things – you know, plant new plants. And we also paint the United States on the ground, do hopscotch, Four Square, so that the kids have a safe environment and a new, revitalized playground.
And then target 5 is our global impact, and we want to give people the opportunity to learn about globalization, Africare is one of our targets as well as UN and we teach the students about Model UN and how to make a global impact, and we’re currently helping to build a school in Liberia.
Q: So, you’re pretty involved in the community at all different levels, and so how did you get involved in this organization?
A: So, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated is an organization for college educated women, and you join either when you’re in college or after you graduate from college, so that is how you become a member.
Q: And how long have you been involved with it?
A: I have been involved for 26 years.
Q: Has it always been in Prince William County that whole time or has it been in any other places?
A: So, myself? Oh for myself, it’s been in different places. But I have been here in Prince William along with Omicron Chi Omega for the last seven years.
Q: So, what’s one of the things that drives you to keep on all this? Obviously this is – you have a lot going on – I know it’s not just you, but what’s one of the things that drives you to want to help like this in the community?
A: One of the things that drives me is that one of my passions is health. Making sure that our underserved community members take care of themselves. And so my passion has been the health initiative. So that’s one of the things that drives me to help our Prince William County community residents to learn more about health, stroke awareness, heart, diabetes, and things like that. Because a healthy community actually helps serve others in the community. So that’s one of the things that we as a sorority have become very passionate about. Because as we become healthier, we can help the community be healthy and we can help others – not just here – but globally as well.
Q: So how many people do you have in your sorority that help you?
A: So, we have approximately 140 people.
Q: So, your group has a big impact when you go in to do any of these different programs.
A: Right. So, we also have our sorority and then we have a foundation, which is the Ivy Foundation of Greater Prince William County Incorporated. So, they are with us – they’re our charitable part of our foundation. So our sorority works in the community as well as our non-profit charitable contributions that we get from our foundation, so we work hand in hand.
Q: So, you have a couple of events coming up?
A: We do.
Q: So, what’s the first one you have coming up?
A: The first event we have coming up is the Little Miss AKA Pageant. And out Little Miss AKA Pageant is one of our biggest fundraisers that our charitable foundation, the Ivy Foundation of Greater Prince William County does for our sorority. And what they do is, we mentor and impact little young ladies in the community, ages five to 17, and we basically foster their growth by providing information on social graces, civic activities, community service, and teamwork, over a six to eight-month period time. We meet with them, we teach them different things, and then the culmination of that activity is an actual pageant. And through that process they’re raising funds to fund helping us provide scholarship money for the community – young men and women that are going to college.
Q: And where is this going to be held?
A: This is going to be held at Hylton High School. It’s June 11 and the tickets are $5…at C.D. Hylton High School from 3 [p.m.] to 7 [p.m.]. And like I said, the pageant, it has three categories, so each category is age specific. So we have girls in each category.
Q: And your second event that you’ll have coming up.
A: Our second event is our first annual Big Hat Brunch. So, this is an awesome opportunity for everyone to come out and enjoy a wonderful fashion show. We’re going to have a jazz band, and this is at the Waterford in Springfield, and that’s going to be June 17. And it’s an opportunity for everyone to come out, wear a big hat – it’s going to be men and women – so men are invited as well, family members, to just come out and have a really good time and enjoy. It’s another fundraiser. Tickets are $65 and again that’s going to be at the Waterford in Springfield.
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