Seated: Gertrude Guilford*, Arcelean Hampton, Winifred Johnson, Dr. Ruth Thomas, Ethel Love and Esterine Paige.
Standing: Carolyn Patton, Lucile Ruff, Lillian Jackson, Evelyn Staton, Mary E. Lovett Belton
History was made in Youngstown, Ohio when Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter was chartered on May 21, 1949, by ten young ladies. This installation ceremony was held in the Belmont YWCA with Great Lakes Regional Director, Dr. Ruth Thomas of Wilberforce presiding. The Charter was signed by Supreme Basileus Edna Over Gray.
The officers and members of this original group were:
|President||Evelyn Stanton *|
|Vice President||Lillian H. Jackson *|
|Secretary||Caroline Patton *|
|Corresponding Secretary||Winifred Johnson *|
|Treasurer||Arcelean Hampton *|
|Dean of Pledges||Gertrude Guilford *|
|Ivy Leaf Reporter||Ethel Love *
Esterine Paige-Daniels *
Lucille Ruff *
Mary E. Lovett-Belton *
* Denotes Ivy Beyond the Wall
Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter’s first initiation was held on January 28, 1950. Participating in the first initiation were Anne Black, Dorthea Brown, Elizabeth Clark, Rose Freeman, Henrietta Jefferson, Bessye Sims, and Margaret Smith.
The chapter had many service-oriented projects during these early years to be “of greater service to all mankind.” The year 1950 proved to be a banner year for these pioneers of our local chapter. The scholarship program was initiated with the awarding of fifty dollar scholarship to Marcella Boyd, to attend the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing. The awarding of scholarships became an annual event. During this same year, the sorority sponsored a free dental clinic. Also, the “Fashionetta and Models Ball” which was held in October became an annual affair for several years. This affair attracted outstanding national personalities. These included renowned model Marva Louis Spaulding and Detroit hat designer Bill Howard.
The decade of 1950-60 was memorable in many ways. Chapter highlights included honoring the Negro Drama Players of New York performing the production, “Bell, Book and Candle.” Members of the sorority also, volunteered their services and items to the American Cancer Society to meet its full quota of responsibility to the National Projects Fund of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. As a reward for their efforts Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter was named a 3 Gold Star chapter.
The highlight of this period occurred when the chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 11, 1974 at Powers Auditorium with Soror Eva Evans, Great Lakes Regional Director as the keynote speaker.
The annual Pink and Green Snowflake Ball, which became the Snowflake Ball, continues to be an exciting fundraiser where sorors and guests have an opportunity to fellowship and have a good time while generating funds for the scholarship outreach funds.
February 1980, sorority members Alnita Bryant and Mary Lois Smith presented the sorority’s national publication, “The Heritage Series” to Curriculum Director Richard Sheeley of the Youngstown City Schools so that copies could be placed in each of the city schools. The “Heritage Series” features outstanding African American women in the areas of politics, business, medicine, dentistry and the judiciary.
The year 1983 was a “year to remember in the history of Epsilon Mu Omega. The production “Spirituals to Broadway” written and produced by Soror Verna Wylie attracted audiences in excess of 2,500 from the tri-county area and Steubenville. The production, which used local talent, performed four performances at Kent State University, Trumbull Branch, and two performances at Youngstown State University. Proceeds from the production were used to assist YSU African American students in the performing arts.
In March of 1983, the chapter became the “talk of the town” when Epsilon Mu Omega hosted, “Furs, the Final Touch” featuring New York black furrier James McQuay. Mr. McQuay, who had been featured in the November 1982 issue of Essence, produced an event that was long remembered. The funds from this “evening of elegance,” held at Mr. Anthony’s were generated for the scholarship fund.
The momentum of chapter activities continued when the Diamond Jubilee Luncheon was sponsored on Sunday, May 20, 1984. The keynote speaker for the event was Great Lakes Regional Director, Dr. Bella Clinkscale.
1985 marked the beginning of the annual seminar and style show “Women of the Eighties.” Epsilon Mu Omega was a pioneer in planning and implementing a seminar whose purpose was to enhance the “total well being of women”. This event has always culminated with a fashion drama. The affair has and continues to attract between two and three hundred women annually.
Sorors were actively participating at the Regional level during this period. Several sorors served as presenters, conveners, and recorders at regional level. Epsilon Mu Omega was proud when our own Soror P. Mae White was elected to the office of Cluster Coordinator for the Northwestern OH/Western PA area for 1986-87. The labor of sorors was rewarded when the chapter received the Graduate Advisor’s Mentoring Award and the Past Basilei Leadership Award at the 1988 Regional.
Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter continues to assert itself as a “service to mankind” organization during the 1990-1997 years. “Women of the Nineties” and the Snowflake Ball continues to be two of our premier programs. Joining the ranks of our premier programs in 1994 was “Focus on African American Adolescent Girls (FOAAAG),” which was designed and implemented to serve as a support group to seventh and eighth graders from inner city schools. Dr. Barbara Ross Lee, the only African American female dean of a medical school at this time, “kicked off” the event by talking and interacting with the girls. The program received an “extra boost” when Soror Loretta Seldon was instrumental in the chapter receiving a $4,500 grant for the 1997-98 school year to assist the sorority in providing materials and services to enhance the program.
Due to the urging of members of the Youngstown Playhouse Minority Advisory Committee, January 23, 1993 saw the creation of the African American Greek Fraternal Organization. Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity comprised the Organization. The organization recognized the importance of promoting the progress of underrepresented students in higher education. In recognition of this need, the group committed themselves to recognizing scholastic achievement by awarding a scholarship to a deserving student. Sponsoring the productions, “Miss Ever’s Boys” and “Fences” made it possible to provide a $10,000 scholarship to Joy Williams, a student from East High School. Our chapter was represented on this committee in the persons of Sorors Alnita Bryant-Russell and P. Mae White. Soror Verna Wylie served as the president of the organization.
The 1991 years to the present continue to be filled with exciting chapter activities that impact the community.
Our chapter has participated in the Youngstown Schools Adopt-A-School Program for several years. Partnerships with Bennett School, Cleveland School, and Hillman School have been productive and gratifying. Included in the activities have been tutoring students, purchasing math materials, providing incentives for improved student attendance, and planning activities to broaden the knowledge base of middle school girls about various opportunities in the community.
In conjunction with the national programming, the first Media Appreciation Day was held at the B & O Restaurant in 1993 when plaques were awarded to WKBN TV Hostess of Expressions Sophia Brooks and Buckeye Review representative Crystal Williams-Costa for services rendered to the minority community. Recipients of this prestigious award were made to Robert Douglas, one of the owners of WRBP and WGFT in 1994 and Mike McNair, owner of the Buckeye Review in 1995.
Sorors implemented the performing arts strand of the National Program by horning Thomas Gross, baritone and husband of Soror Mary Gross. Appearing as guests were Soror Alnita Bryant-Russell and pianist Dana Kristen-Joi Morgan. This first-class affair was held on August 14, 1994 at Churchill United Methodist Church.
October 1996, the chapter hosted the Northern OH/Western PA Cluster meeting at the Holiday Inn in Boardman. The event received an outstanding evaluation.
Regional Awards reached an all time high during this period:
- (1991) First Place in the Performing Arts in Drama at the Great Lakes Regional. Sorors Mary Benford, Sara Griffing and Alnita Bryant-Russell were phenomenal women in the satirical piece, “I am A Woman,” written by Ernest L. Brown and directed by Soror Verna Wylie.
- (1992) First Place in the Performing Arts in Drama. Sorors Alnita Bryant-Russell, Chithea Summers and Lois Thornton wowed the audience with their interpretation of “No Woman is an Island” written by Ernest Brown.
- (1996) First Place in the Exhibits Award for “Exemplary Chapter Activities”.
- (1996) Received Patricia A. Petty Regional Director’s Award of Exemplary Achievement.
- (1996) Named a 1996 Honorable Mention for Chapter Newsletter.
- (1996) Named a 1996 Four Rockets to Venus Chapter for outstanding contribution to the Educational Advancement Foundation. Soror Evelyn Fisher coordinates the Chapter’s EAF activities.
- (1997) Received Patricia A. Petty Regional Director’s Award of Exemplary Achievement.
- (1997) Received the 1997 Four Rockets to Venus banner for outstanding contribution made to EAF.
- (1997) Received the Northeastern Ohio Universities College for Medicine Office of Minority Affairs and Affirmative Action award for the Chapter’s continuous participation in the Medical Minority Scholarship Fund program.
Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter continuously makes significant statements in the community by supporting other organizations and causes. Included in this group are the Associated Neighborhood Centers, Trumbull County Urban League, Youngstown Area Urban League, NAACP, Youngstown State University Music Summer Camp, YSU Athletic Program, Mahoning Valley Youth Leadership Program, United Negro College Fund and Tod Children’s and Babies Hospital Telethon.
Members of the chapter have consistently demonstrated their interest in Alpha Kappa Alpha by attending Great Lakes Regional, Boules, Leadership Conferences, and Cluster Meetings during this period in our history.
Members of Epsilon Mu Omega strive to support the area young by facilitating a “Successful Women” program in the elementary schools on life topics such as communication, relationships, technology, and college entrance information; the middle-aged with ‘The Economic Keys to Success’, entrepreneurial and health tips; and the ‘seasoned’ with B-I-N-G-O, providing transportation to the polls, and health information.
Consistently demonstrating an interest in Alpha Kappa Alpha, Epsilon Mu Omega members serve on the Great Lakes Heritage Committee, Regional Technology Committee, being facilitators, and recorders for conferences. Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter members continue to be well represented by attending Great Lakes Regional, Boule, Leadership Conferences, and Cluster Meetings. Chapter awards include placing in the Outstanding Graduate Chapter, Outstanding Soror (Theresa Yarboro), Wellness Award, ‘The Great Communicator’ (use of communication tools), ‘Helping Hand’, Patricia A. Petty Wilson Exhibit Award, EAF Gold Level Award, Standards Award, receiving the Schylbea J. Hopkins Regional Director’s Award of Exemplary Achievement to Honorable Mention for Outstanding Basileus (Dorothy B. Davis), Outstanding Graduate Advisor (Robin S. Bradley), ‘Outstanding Newsletter’ to High Honors for membership (4 and 5 Heartbeats). Epsilon Mu Omega participated in the Young Authors Program (2005-2006), where local winners Rakia Levesque and Zaakiyah Cua competed on the regional level. We received an award for implementation of the Young Authors Program and Sponsorship of the 2006 Grade 4-6 Great Lakes National Young Author, Rakia Lévesque was honored during the 2006 Boule in Detroit, MI. In 2005, Epsilon Mu Omega and Delta Delta chapters hosted the Northern OH/Western PA Cluster meeting on the campus of Youngstown State University. Located in an area not suited to host a Regional Conference, Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter was able to join with the Northern Ohio/Western PA Cluster Region to assist with the 74th (Pittsburgh, PA) and 75th (Cleveland, OH) Great Lakes Regional Conferences by serving as vendor committee where Dorothy B. Davis was the vendor committee chairman.
True to the ideals and traditions of our founders, Epsilon Mu Omega reflects with pride on its past and accepts its mission for the future, as the 21st century enfolds. We, as sisters, together and individually, shall reach out and touch mankind, as we continue our legacy of “service to all mankind”. We are a small, but Mighty Band of Spirited Sorors. We are dreamers! We have the imagination and talents to make our dreams come true! We love God, our families; we are glad and proud to be Alpha Kappa Alpha women! We are Electrifying and Extraordinary Sincere Sorors who Promise to Protect, Persevere, and Promote the traditions of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated!