The journey to chapter establishment began on a Sunday afternoon in October 2016 when eight members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® – Teresa Brown, Dinetta Duncan, Jodi Garcia, Marjorie Garcia (via phone), Dr. Felita Grant, Joyce Jones-Green and Dionne Holt met at the home of Sonja W. Garcia.
The women recognized that the demographics of northern Hillsborough and Pasco counties called for consistent, sustainable support for the children, women, and families in those communities. The sisters agreed that a new graduate chapter could provide services to those living in under-served areas, so they resolved to spread the word to others who wanted to reconnect with the sorority and serve their community.
The first official meeting was in November. Several members attended and formed a plan of action. A second meeting came a month later. At that time, the group decided it would focus on serving northern Hillsborough and Pasco counties and chose the name: “Sorors Forward Together.” The group took part in various service projects in their targeted area. They provided supplies to nursing homes during the holidays, donated copies of Hidden Figures to local libraries and high schools, volunteered at UNCF luncheons, and fed the Ugandan Children’s Choir during a visit to the Bay area.
With an expanded roster and a visit from the Regional Director, Sharon Brown Harriott, Coterie of PEARLfection officially became an interest group of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® in June of 2017. The interest group immediately embraced the sorority’s national programs. They volunteered on Childhood Awareness Day, filling bags with food for students to take home on the weekends. They also hosted HBCU Pride Day to celebrate historically black colleges and universities. and introduced the ASCEND enrichment program to hundreds of teens at the Girls Global Action Summit. Additionally, they dressed for Pink Goes Red and exercised on Community Impact Days.
During the last quarter of 2017, Coterie of PEARLfection walked to raise money for the National Alliance for Mental Illness, participated in the Great American Teach-In, sponsored a raffle to fund scholarships, and donated holiday baskets to families in need. The group received recognition from Hillsborough Community College for publishing a book of poetry and letters of gratitude for area veterans as part of MLK Day of Service in January 2018. The group spent nearly two years of serving the community with commitment and conviction prior to chartering.
Alpha Alpha Theta Omega became the 1,025th graduate chapter and the 175th chapter established in the history of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at the Westshore Grand Hotel in Tampa. With the cleverly executed theme, “Passport to PEARLfection,” Dr. Sherell Wilson, Chartering Activities Chairman and her team hosted a Saturday afternoon of travel-inspired entertainment and nuances, along with voices of wisdom from the community. Introductions of the charter members were made by Dr. Norma Solomon White, the 25th International President, and Attorney Carolyn House Stewart, the 28th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®.
The keynote address was delivered by Sharon Brown Harriott, the South Atlantic Regional Director who charged the new chapter to be true to Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mandate of “service to all mankind.” In keeping with the sorority’s charge of community service initiatives, the chapter’s first service project took place immediately following the Celebration Luncheon – delivery of 32 floral centerpieces from the event to hospitals and other medical facilities throughout Hillsborough and Pasco counties, along with St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, where the chapter worshiped on Sunday, July 1, 2018.
The chartering officers of the Alpha Alpha Theta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha were: Sonja W. Garcia, President; Dionne Holt, First Vice President; Romona Sutton, Second Vice President; Dr. Sherell Wilson, Secretary; Cassandra Farrior, Assistant Secretary; Dr. Bianca Crudup, Treasurer; Joselynne Forde, Financial Secretary; Dr. Akilah Bell, Assistant Financial Secretary; Temika Kitchen, Corresponding Secretary; Marissa Weaver, Ivy Leaf Reporter; Attorney Ekecia Taylor, Parlimentarian; Jeannene LeSure, Chaplain; Teresa D. Brown, Historian; Sandra Weaver, Hostess; and Cheryl Pyles, Door Keeper.