Soror M. C. Lyte serves as the national chair for the Sorority’s signature project, Project Reassurance, which focuses on health education and interventions. Project Reassurance encompasses “H3: Healthy Choices, Healthy Living, and Healthy Generations.” Since there are several programs to address the purpose of this national project, our chapter implements those that are considered helpful for youth and families in the Austin Metroplex area.
Project CRADLE Care is a prenatal education and resource program that seeks to improve pregnancy outcomes in high-risk communities by increasing the number of women of childbearing age who receive adequate prenatal education and prenatal care and who better understand proper infant care and child development. Alpha Kappa Sigma Chapter and our Philo Affiliate partner with local organizations and schools to provide items for babies for their clients and students. Recent donations were delivered to Any Baby Can of Austin and Lanier H.S.’s Child Care Center, included diapers, wipes, bottles, and infant clothing. In addition, feminine sanitary supplies were delivered to the Title I high school to allow girls to attend school instead of missing days each month, because they could not afford to buy the products.
More than 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year; and, prematurity and birth defects are leading causes of infant mortality. March of Dimes is working to change these dismal outcomes, and 100% of our members give money to March of Dimes annually, for a joint donation. Our desire is to be contributors to help end these reasons for babies dying.
During the month of October, our members volunteer annually at the Susan Komen Race in Austin for the Cure packets and t-shirt distribution. At this pre-race event, members also check-in the race participants to confirm their registration. The Komen staff depend on our members volunteering to add diversity at the public distribution site, and the event is a fun, bonding activity with Sorors. This is one of the ways our chapter honors the Soror Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program. We also support and attend our Philo Affiliate’s Cancer Awareness Program which involves a guest speaker (usually a cancer survivor), and dissemination of information about cancer and cancer prevention.
Perhaps the most impactful program in which we are involved is the Youth Symposium. Instead of having a one-day event, we implement a series of topics for the students who participate in our Girls Mentoring Program, “Girls Talk”. Some of the topics are Positive Self-Esteem, Educational Achievement Matters, Career Planning, the Mwanamugima Essay Contest, and Wee Savers (Financial Literacy). We believe in the importance of being role models for the girls, so they can imagine what they can achieve in their future, instead of only seeing entertainers, professional athletes, and sadly, unscrupulous people to emulate. The Mu Upsilon undergraduates assist us with the monthly sessions, which is important because of the interaction with college students who look like them.
Our chapter donates school supplies to Communities in Schools – Central Texas and directly to an elementary school. We understand the importance of students having the necessary tools in the classroom. Without them, they are at a disadvantage and many have other disadvantages already. Providing school supplies is one way to mitigate their unreadiness when their families do not have the resources.
Soles for Little Souls is a nation-wide shoe collection drive that distributes new shoes to children and homeless shelters. This program is a part of SPEAR, one of the sorority’s foundations. We and our Philo Affiliate jointly donated 150 pairs of shoes for children refugees, who recently arrived in Austin, to a local non-profit agency, Interfaith Action of Central Texas Program (I-ACT).
Our community service goes beyond the identified national programs. We identify other ways to contribute to the local community.
Our Golden Apple Awards Program recognized seven local educators for their outstanding contributions to students, the field of education and the community. There are seven honorees in honor of the sorority’s seven founders who were educators. This is an Alpha Kappa Sigma Chapter signature event that is very classy and well received by the Austin community.
For Veteran’s Day, our chapter had the privilege to visit with the then oldest American veteran, Mr. Richard Overton. He was very happy during our visit “to see so many ladies” and smiled nonstop. We presented him with some of his favorite cigars, which earned us an invitation to come visit again. At the age of 112, Mr. Overton died in December of 2018.
Austin gets extremely hot during summer months and there are many elderly people without air conditioning in their homes. Consequently, our chapter partners with our Philo Affiliate to donate new 20” box fans to the annual Elder Care Fan Drive. In addition to low-income seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families with children also receive fans.
Another annual event at which we volunteer is the Thanksgiving Day Dinner at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. Serving on the food line is a rewarding experience and promotes bonding among the members as we work together. The Mt. Olive members count on us to assist every year to make this event successful.
Several of our chapter members are Volunteer Deputy Registrars in multiple counties in the state of Texas. We held voter registration and education workshops at various local churches in the community.