Delta Sigma Theta sorority celebrates centennial by continuing their legacy of helping other and celebrating DELTA’S great heritage
Robin Huger (l) and Deborah Sharpe, both of Baltimore County.
Delta Sigma Theta brings help to Haiti
Three years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, one UCF alumna was able to return to her home to help Haitian children to succeed academically.
Manica Pierrette, southern regional representative for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., was one of six members of the organization who traveled to Cherette, Haiti, to open the Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Sorority Elementary School. The school’s fruition was made possible through Pierrette’s sorority as well as Delta Research & Education Foundation in collaboration with Water and Education International Student Collaboration for Haiti Outreach Opportunities for Learning.
The school opened its doors on June 15, but it is an initiative that Delta Sigma Theta has been working toward since 2012, according to a press release. This grand opening came at Delta Sigma Theta’s 100th anniversary.
“The celebrations planned throughout our centennial year have not deterred us from doing what we were called to do — to serve,” Delta Sigma Theta’s national president, Cynthia M. A. Butler-McIntyre, said in a press release. “Although we no longer see the images of Haiti in the news, the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority have not forgotten the devastated faces of our Haitian brothers and sisters after the earthquake three years ago.”
Pierrette said that she was immediately interested in taking part in the initiative, as she had not been to her home of Haiti since she was 5-years-old.
“Hearing of this initiative immediately sparked my interest and excitement, being that I am of Haitian descent and my parents were born and raised in Haiti,” she said.
The WEI SCHOOL project was established to provide an educational resource with clean water for Haitian children, and is the first of many initiatives of its kind to improve the school systems in the region.
The elementary school will be funded through donations from members of Delta Sigma Theta in support of the Clean Water Haiti fund, which was established in 2010, according to the press release. WEI is also in control of management and finances of the school, as well as its daily operations.
“We believe that by impacting the lives of young people, we will have a lasting impact for years to come,” Butler-McIntyre said. “As a former elementary school teacher, it has been my experience that providing the proper educational tools and creating a positive learning environment is essential to school instruction and enables students to excel in and outside the classroom.”
Pierrette said that Delta Sigma Theta members have al-ready donated $30,000 to the reconstruction and implementation of new technology for the school as well as to maintain clean water.
The school currently has seven teachers for more than 300 students who will be attending the school, which consists of six classrooms named for living past national presidents of the sorority.
“Those of us that were able to attend the grand opening brought over school supplies … for the 300 plus students that will attend the school,” Pierrette said.
Pierrette said that her Haitian background afforded her the unique opportunity to communicate with natives while at the grand opening, as she was the only traveler who spoke Creole.
“I was also able to actually speak to the children briefly in their native language even though my Creole isn’t fluent,” she said.
During her time at UCF, Pierrette served on the board of Multicultural Student Center, as the second vice president of the Mu Iota chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and president of the John T. Washington Honors Society. She currently works as a facilities graduate assistant at the Recreation and Wellness Center, as well as serving as the sorority’s regional representative. She is also preparing to begin her graduate degree at UCF in educational leadership.
As southern regional representative for Delta Sigma Theta, Pierrette oversees 210 chapters of the sorority in Florida, Mississippi, Tennesee, Alabama, Georgia and the Bahamas.
Because there was a retired chapter of the sorority in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that fell under Pierrettes’ regional oversight, she was urged by national board members of Delta Sigma Theta to join the initiative.
Delta Sigma Theta is a national nonprofit sorority that centers on public service.
“Through the Mu Iota chapter on campus, we have enhanced the campus and community with many service projects such as our annual male scholarship pageant, our annual Greater Orlando Heart Walk Reception, which has raised over $1,000 in previous years, and speaking to juveniles in our city’s detention center,” Pierrette said.
Pierrette is hopeful that this and other initiatives will continue to help and inspire others in the future.
“After the temporary Greek ban on campus that affected thousands of Greeks, I think it is critical to highlight initiatives that we engage in that impact the lives of others,” she said.
Hundreds of women assemble for traveling Olympic-style torch
Standing in a crowd with a couple hundred of her Delta Sigma Theta sisters, Ruth Travis watched as a flotilla escorted the sorority’s torch to the Inner Harbor Friday for a centennial celebration to honor the women’s service to Maryland and the world.
From their first march on Washington during women’s suffrage in 1913 to their ongoing Park Heights mentoring sessions, the women engage in service activities centered on economic empowerment, education, international involvement, political awareness and physical and mental health.
Travis, a retired schoolteacher and pastor at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, said the Deltas have left their mark on Baltimore and beyond.
“It’s just an honor to be a Delta,” said Travis, dressed in a white linen jumpsuit with a red silk flower pinned by her heart, a tribute to the sorority’s signature red and white.
“There are Deltas all over the world and the sisterhood is so strong. We are all in facets of life: doctors, lawyers, teachers , pastors — you name it, we’re in it.”
In the Baltimore region, the sorority invites girls and boys monthly to the chapter headquarters to teach them study skills, expose them to possible career paths and mentor them. Members take the youths on college tours, serve food to the elderly, sponsor Girl Scout troops and host financial management workshops.
The women also participate in political advocacy with “Delta Days” at City Hall and the State House, where they lobbied for stronger school attendance laws.College-educated women are invited to join the historically black sorority that was founded by 22 women at Howard University. One of the co-founders was Vashti Turley Murphy, who lived in Baltimore with her husband, Carl, a longtime publisher of the Afro-American newspaper.
More than 250,000 women belong to the sorority in 900 chapters throughout the U.S. and overseas in places such as England, Japan and Germany. More than 3,000 members are in Maryland.
After its arrival by boat, the torch was paraded down a red carpet leading to a dais outside the Baltimore Visitor Center. It was ceremoniously lit on stage, where dignitaries were seated, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and NAACP President Benjamin Jealous.
The torch is finishing a 22-stop national tour with visits to the hometowns of the organization’s leaders. Baltimore is home to Thelma T. Daley, the 16th national president of Delta Sigma Theta from 1975 to 1979.
Daley said the torch will light the way for the sorority’s next 100 years.
“It is a light that represents Delta commitment to integrity, high morals and its active interest in the welfare of the community and our country,” Daley said. “It is a symbol that embodies love, peace, pursuit of happiness, hope, faith and positive regard for all.”
Following the event, the sisters went to Morgan State University , where they met with students to award $16,000 in scholarships and promote careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The sorority will be in Annapolis on Saturday, beginning with a 9:30 a.m. rally at the Kunta Kinte memorial at 1 Dock Street. Other festivities will follow..
The torch tour ends in Washington Thursday at the kickoff of the organization’s national convention.
White Linen Centennial event
Friday evening Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated held its White Linen Centennial event at the Corrine Jones Resource Center on Sanders Beach.
The organization hosts its “White Linen Affair” annually. However, this year Delta celebrated 100 years of sisterhood and service.
According to Fernaundra Ferguson, president of the Pensacola Chapter, the money generated from event will be used for community service projects and education initiatives.
“Delta was founded on Christian principles,” said Ferguson. “We are committed to public service. It is a chance to make a difference in the world.”
Other sisters of the sorority agreed that the hard work of the women of the organization would make an impact on society and they too wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Sandra Robinson said she joined the organization to be able to work with young ladies. Robinson has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority for 31 years. “I wanted to help prepare young ladies for society,” said Robinson. “I’ve worked with young ladies and helped them prepare for their debut to society and get presented during our annual cotillion. I also helped give them experience with community service,” she said.
Viola G. Harrison, has been a member for 50 years and said she wanted to be able to help someone along the way. “If you live your life helping others, you living will not be in vain,” said Harrison.
In observing this spectacular event, the organization embraced the principles of its foundation. The ladies were all dressed in white, blending in with the décor of the room, appeared to signify their unity and lifelong sisterhood bond. Ferguson, grasped her heart as she called event chairperson, Tracy Johnson and co-chairperson, Tammy Booker to the stage.
“They’ve worked very hard to organize this event,” said Ferguson. “I am very proud of them.” she said as she stated their achievements.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was formed in 1913 by 22 women at Howard University. The organization incorporated in 1930, expanded and now represents over 200,000 black college educated women and has over 900 chapters in the United States. Delta strived to promote academic excellence and provide assistance to those in need.
For more information on about Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, please visit their website at www.deltasigmatheta.org or www.pensacoladsts.org for the Pensacola Chapter.