Notably, in January 2015, Xi Omega logged its 1,200th volunteer hour at Food & Friends. This milestone achievement establishes the sorority as a great example for any civic organization committed to making a difference in the local community.
“The partnership started 17 years ago as an extension of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s international focus on strengthening the family and health promotion,” says Dr. Lavdena Orr, the president of Xi Omega Chapter and sorority member for over 25 years. “We work to help those citizens in our community who are disadvantaged because of their health. Every year, more and more [Xi Omega] volunteers want to help.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha is the nation’s oldest Greek-letter sorority founded by college-educated, African-American women. Xi Omega, which was chartered in 1923, is the oldest Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc -graduate chapter in Washington, DC. Xi Omega volunteers at Food & Friends every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in support of “a day on and not a day off” initiative.
“Our main drive for giving back every year is to make sure we are helping our community,” says Dr. Orr. “Food & Friends has the resources to help people with health challenges and we have the hands.”
Vivian Smith, an Alpha Kappa Alpha member for over 50 years and former president of Xi Omega, was part of the first group of women who volunteered in 1998. The feeling she gets when serving the community is what keeps her coming back. “Volunteering is a good feeling,” says Vivian. “For me, it’s a feeling of knowing that someone out there is going to benefit from something I’ve been able to do.”
Xi Omega’s community service not only results in the preparation and delivery of nutritious meals, but a better understanding of how the community can support the critically ill.
“We have seen positive changes in Food & Friends over the years,” says Cora Dixon, member of the sorority for over 40 years and Food & Friends volunteer since 1998. “Our experience there has caused other [Alpha Kappa Alpha] members to want to come. It seems like they have developed an appetite to come and make a difference in the lives of those who are seriously ill.”
For April Gaines-Jernigan, an AKA member for 33 years, volunteering fulfills a vow she made when she first joined the organization. “When I leave, I feel like I have contributed to the community and that we have made an impact and a statement that we are fulfilling our [sorority] pledge of serving all mankind. I enjoy it and wish that we could come more often!”