A Historical Perspective (1985 – 2017)
Initial discussions regarding chartering a Delta chapter in Gainesville, Florida were plagued with mixed feelings, as the Ocala Alumnae Chapter was tightly knit. However, travel to and from Ocala for meetings/programs created a hardship for many members. Members saw a great need to have a chapter in Gainesville because they knew that Delta could positively impact this unique community. Gainesville members moved forward with the full support of those from the Ocala Chapter.
Jean Ingram and Beatrice Madison spearheaded the chartering process. Regional Director, Verdelle Bellamy, conducted the Chartering Ceremony. There were 72 Sorors present, representing four area chapters. Thirty-nine of the 40 chapter members signed the charter.
Chartered on October 26, 1985, the Gainesville Alumnae Chapter (GAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. continues to positively impact the Gainesville community into the new millennium. Since that time, the chapter has instituted, established, and participated in a variety of workshops, service projects, and programs which have fulfilled the Five Point Thrust of the sorority.
The chapter continues to enhance the lives of young women in our community and prepare them for the future through the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy, which was started in 1999. Through School America the chapter promotes literacy by working with young people at the Educational Child Care Center (ECCC). At the annual Youth Seminar local students attend workshops on Black History, Career Planning, Dressing for Success and other topics which provide them with valuable information to prepare them for the future. Young ladies who participated in the Jabberwock Pageant in December 2002 had the opportunity to be involved in several development activities in addition to receiving scholarship money. Also, the chapter’s annual Scholarship provides money to attend college to deserving graduating seniors in our community.
The Gainesville Alumnae Chapter has demonstrated its commitment to economic development in many ways. By providing meals to Habitat for Humanity volunteers the sorority supports the efforts of this program which provides homes for those in need in the community. Each year the sorors have hosted and co-sponsored the opening reception for the 5th Avenue Arts Festival, which is a landmark historical festival in the Gainesville area.
Physical & Mental Health
On March 9, 2002, Delta chapters around the world held activities for the sorority’s International Day of Service to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. The sorors of GAC held a rally, “AIDS in the Black Community-Let’s Get Real,” which was supported by many community organizations and was a huge success. GAC sorors work with the local National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Meals on Wheels program to deliver meals to homebound individuals. The American Cancer Society’s Winn Dixie Hope Lodge Thanksgiving dinner has become one of the chapters favorite activities. At this dinner sorors prepare, serve and visit with patients and their guests to bring them holiday cheer. And the soul stepping sorors of GAC who perform at the annual Red & White Ball know that stepping is not just about fun and entertainment, but it is also a great way to stay in shape!
African Americans and women must continue the struggle for justice and equality. With this in mind, the Gainesville Alumnae Chapter has remained committed to Social Action. In particular, members have educated citizens about Affirmative Action and other issues as well as participated in voter registration drives. Alliances with the NAACP and other community organizations has aided the sorority in these endeavors. In the past the chapter cosponsored a workshop on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in the criminal justice system. On the State and National levels, sorors visit government officials at Delta Days at the Capital. GAC sorors plan to extend this program locally by visiting with local government to discuss issues affecting our community.
International Awareness & Involvement
An interest and awareness of other cultures is evident throughout the programming of the chapter. The chapter has promoted international awareness at the Youth Seminar by having speakers from other countries. School supplies were donated to a village in Ghana in West Africa, and the chapter has also hosted a reception for the premiere of the movie SANKOFA by the Ethiopian filmmaker, Haile Gerima.
The dynamic Deltas of the Gainesville Alumnae Chapter continue to carry out the mission of service with a purpose, scholarship with a passion, and the unbreakable bond of sisterhood.