Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and its charitable arm–AKArama Foundation, Inc.–will join forces to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s national holiday on January 18th. Inspired by the theme, “Acts of Service on Chicago’s King Drive,” they will journey down Dr. King Drive performing acts of service. The venues and organizations that will benefit from this powerful collaboration reflect the spirit of Dr. King and the Sorority’s mission: “To serve all mankind.”
The Chapter and Foundation will also use the occasion to launch “Invest: King Drive,” whose purpose is to pump money and resources into principal thoroughfares in Chicago.
According to President Veletta L. Bell, as part of “Acts of Service on Chicago’s King Drive,” the two entities will use their resources to “virtually” make the trip down the fabled 14-mile King Drive stretch and uplift organizations and iconic establishments that embrace education, the arts, Black business, economic security, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), health, and global impact. There will be a particular effort aimed at responding and addressing those impacted by the economic ravages wrought by COVID-19. To that end, the Foundation will identify and invest resources in businesses and organizations along King Drive. According to Program Chairman Kimberley Egonmwan, this groundbreaking initiative marks the beginning of a larger programmatic collaboration geared toward flooding resources into the arteries that make up Chicago’s African-American community.
The virtual “Acts of Service on Chicago’s King Drive” voyage begins at 9 am at the United African Organization, 4901 S. King Drive. This agency, which is devoted to helping African immigrants, will receive a donation of 90 backpacks. Viewed as a compassionate donation, Bell said that backpacks would offer a safe and dignified alternative to the garbage bags immigrants sometimes use to store and transport their belongings.
At noon the virtual tour will venture south to the housing complex, Parkway Gardens at 6418 S. King Dr. There, they will make a $500 contribution to Future Ties, which offers over 1,200 elementary school children and youth from Parkway Gardens after-school programming five days per week. Future Ties recently expanded its after-school program to include middle and high school students. Theta Omega Cha- pter and AKArama Foundation, Inc. have initiated a partnership with Future Ties to ensure high school students will have the help they need to successfully apply to, and matriculate at, college. This project also has the potential to provide scholarships and additional mentorship to the residents.
With the virtual tour in the lunchtime window, the next stop is at 1 p.m. at Roy’s Soul Food located at 71st and King Drive. Celebrated as “the best soul food restaurant on the southside,” Roy’s Soul Food is a Black-owned, second-generation restaurant and catering business that correlates with the AKArama Foundation’s target to support Black business. The Foundation contracted Roy’s to cater lunch at Feather Fist Veterans Home at 9020 S. Langley. This is an extension of the Theta Omega and AKArama Foundation’s commitment to support and honor homeless veterans in temporary housing. The Foundation supports Feather Fist year-round with donations of personal goods, food, grocery cards, and other items that sustain the veterans.
Because of the compelling and vital cultural niche that the Southside Community Arts Center fills, the tour will veer off the King Drive route and end with a virtual visit to the Center at 3831 S. Michigan Ave, which was founded by Dr. Margaret Burroughs and other African American artists during President Roosevelt’s administration. The Theta Omega/AKArama Foundation will give a nod to this bastion of the Black Arts Movement with a $500 contribution to support the historic African-American museum. This virtual stop underscores a strong commitment to the Arts.
With the Day of Service at an end, the Foundation and Chapter will turn their attention to “Invest: King Drive,” which will debut on this day.
The overarching purposes of the “Invest King Drive” initiative are:
To offer direct support and solicit additional support for businesses and organizations that enrich the community
- to provide resources and financial assistance to enterprises and agencies that have been devastated by COVID-19.
This represents the first of three initiatives targeting major arteries in Chicago’s African-American communities as the program will expand to “Invest: Cottage Grove” and “Invest: Stony Island.”
Bell issued a challenge and charge to still-thriving businesses to join the Chapter/Foundation’s crusade to support enterprises in peril due to the pandemic.
Egonmwan stated this initiative was conceived as part of a larger vision to renew, revive, and resuscitate Chicago’s Black neighborhoods, stimulating the growth needed to support growth in Chicago’s Black community.
Said Bell. “The Chapter and Foundation are both passionate about service, and we are united in combining our energies, resources, and our resolve to give life to this initiative.” She added that it represents another milestone in the 99-year history of the chapter. “With Theta Omega on the cusp of its Centennial, the Program Committee’s vision is an apt way to celebrate this occasion.
Projecting the potential, power, and possibilities of the collaboration, Egonmwan said: “The Invest King Drive will serve as a template for Invest Days on Cottage Grove and Stony Island Ave.
Like the King Drive model, the purpose is to shine a light, uplift, and provide an assist for these storied streets that are so much a part of the fabric of the African American community.”
For more information on how to support this initiative and other programs offered by Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated-Theta Omega Chapter and AKArama Foundation, Inc., email [email protected].