Chi Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority members.
More than 115 participated and witnessed the completion of an MLK Day of Service Project, “Make It a Day On, Not a Day Off”. James S. Rickards Middle School in Oakland Park, Fla. with more than 900 students of diverse backgrounds, is the home of a new health garden, a bellwether concept, unmatched, unparalleled, a model and example, one of its kind, with no other elementary, middle or high school in the state of Florida mirroring or offering a comparison.
The concept was the brainchild of Yulanda Smith-Ellis, Science Department chairman and her Anatomy and Physiology class, sanctioned by Washington Collado, principal and Andria Doughty, assistant principal.
Chi Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., through its charitable arm, A Plus Foundation, Inc., a partner, accepted the project, applied for and received an MLK Day of Service Grant, in the amount of $5,000. For success, the chapter partnered with Home Depot Store #6312 of North Lauderdale, Broward College North Campus, Kappa Kappa Omega Chapter, AS-CEND youth group, Rickards Middle School Staff, Mrs. Yulanda Smith-Ellis and Anatomy and Physiology Class and dozens of community volunteers including the Mayor of Oakland Park and a city com-missioner.
The health garden, “A Blooming Tranquility of Health and Wellness” will impact the school and the community. Sixteen weatherized copper-colored signs attached to copper-colored stakes are in the raised beds and identify the names of the plants with preventive health information. Vegetables/herbs in the garden are red bell peppers, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, string beans, Japanese eggplant, sweet banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, thymes, oregano, basil, peppermint, cilantro, garlic, chives and lemon trees.
The reading on the signs indicates how each plant is health preventive; reduces the risk of cancer, low in cholesterol, sup-ports cardiovascular and digestive system, decreases obesity/diabetes and heart disease and prevents degenerative eye disease. Science/health teachers may take their entire classrooms to visit the health garden, read the signs and learn about eating healthy grown foods. Community participants may visit the garden and learn as well about preventive health through established school procedures.
Home Depot Store #6312 delivered and assembled the raised beds, provided the mulch needed, facilitated the planting, was prepared with tools for assembling, hammering, shoving, raking and cleaning. Moreover, the store facilitated the painting, cementing, placing of the monument and trellis, park benches, stones/blocks for a new walk way to the garden, as well as the planting of pine trees and pruning of existing trees.
In learning to be self-sufficient, the 8th Grade Anatomy and Physiology Class along with many of their parents volunteered and participated in making the safe, high quality health garden that will be sustainable by the class.
Most importantly, Chi Psi Omega Chapter owes a debt of gratitude to partner, Broward College North Campus for their volunteerism, facilitating registration, the flyers and printing, photo and waiver of liability forms printing of the program and t-shirts.
Chi Psi Omega Chapter owes a special indebtedness to her sister chapter, Kappa Kappa Omega for invaluable services rendered during MLK Day, an international service impact day for the sorority. A debt of gratitude is owed to the staff of James S. Rickards Middle School for a vision spanning a lifetime for its students and the community.
Receiving more than gratitude or indebtedness is the volunteering staff from Home Depot Store #6312, North Lauderdale, included William Flint, Manager; Shinelda Joseph, Assistant Manager; Joey Griffin, Project Lead; Marleen Budyam, Robert Clark, Kedecia Daniels, Marcia Hunter and Tedd Williams.
Supporting and present for the ribbon cutting ceremony were Oakland Park Mayor Timothy Lonergan and City Commissioner Michael Carn.
Twenty-eight Chi Psi Omega Chapter members participated in this event: Venetta McCullough, President; Ashley Greene, Second Vice-President, Yulanda Smith-Ellis, MLK Day of Service Chairman; Dr. Barbara J. Thomas, Grant Writer; Miriam Cato Broward MLK Day of Service Liaison; Andrea Bailey-Dowling, LaKeitha Baugh, Lotoya Brown, Kassandra Burton, Cassandra Evans, Tanika Franklin-Francis, Sophonie Gaspard, Michelle Green, Revertha W. Grace, Karena Ivey, Candace Kennedy-Wandlaw, Francesse Lucius, Trivel McKire, Antionece Myers, Josetta B. Patterson, Veronica E. Phillips, Lisa M. Smith, Tscharner Strapp, Joyce Toran, Dione Trawick, Cheryl Waide, Nicole Willis and Cheriane Zephy.
Twenty-six Kappa Kappa Omega Chapter members participated in this event: LaNetta Henry, President; Kara Bailey, First Vice-President; Rendolyn Amaker, Bernice Bailey, Paula Bailey-Gilchrest, Andrea Black, Karen Blake, Abbie Bryan, Ivie Calloway, Andria Doughty, Tamyra Edwards, LaJill Holloway, Laconia Johnson-Martin, Vetia Josephs, Beverly Kelly-Swann, Susan B. McCray, Jemilla Montgomery, Constance Phillips, Kimberly Robinson, Rhoda Scott, Porchia Session, Karen Stokes-Dozier, Leatrice Sullivan, Shemetria Sullivan, Shamilia Thomas and Davette Wright.
In addition to a nutritious continental breakfast by Kappa Kappa Omega Chapter, partners enjoyed a nutritious lunch prepared by Honey Baked Ham that included turkey and ham sandwiches with assorted chips.
Chi Psi Omega Chapter is committed to giving back to the community for sustainable and lasting purposes. Partnerships fostered, humanitarian acts of kindness coupled with collaborative efforts and work were extraordinary awesome, outstanding, incredibly amazing and remarkable. Each partner received a commemorative plaque for their volunteer services. More than 1,000 volunteer hours were earned preparing the garden.
Very high ratings garnered from the evaluations evidenced the success of the safe, student-driven, sustainable health garden.