Sunday, April 28, 2019

At Second District Conference, Gamma Pi's Community Work and Effectiveness Is Lauded and Highlighted

Basileus Bro. Tony Lee (2nd left) and other chapter members at Founders' Banquet

DOVER, Del.-- Hundreds of hours of volunteer time spent planning and executing programs for youth, families and seniors in Prince George's County just about every weekend in the 2017-18 Fraternity Year translated into several awards for The Super Chapter at the 71st Second District Conference here the weekend of April 25-28.

Bro. Don Norwood with Omega Man of the Year award
Gamma Pi Winners 
Recognition for Gamma Pi at the 2019 conference was highlighted by Vice Basileus Bro. Don Norwood's selection as the Omega Man of the Year for the Second District. It is the first time that a member of the chapter has been named the winner of the prestigious award district-wide.

Immediate Past Grand Keeper of Records and Seal Bro. Kenneth Rodgers, who is also the 32nd and former three-time Second District Representative and former Gamma Pi three-time Basileus, was named Founders' Award winner for the district.

Gamma Pi's Citizen  of the Year winner, new Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, was named Second District Citizen of the Year. And, Gamma Pi was one of three chapters that placed in the Social Action Chapter of the Year competition, winning 2nd place.

Bro. Kenneth Rodgers  with District Founders' Award
If being recognized by your peers is the highest form of achievement, then the Brothers of Gamma Pi have every right to feel good about their efforts as fellow Omega men in the 5-state Second District bestowed three individual awards and one group award on the chapter at the conference.

For Gamma Pi, it was a time to reflect on all the chapter's hard work and sacrifice, noted by hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours working with children, youth, families and seniors to improve the lives of the Prince George's County community. It was also a time to demonstrate humility in the context of what Omega stands for, grateful for being recognized by other Omega men who are also doing great work in the Second District.

The District Conference: Getting Down to Business
The awards were announced Saturday, April 27, at the Founders' Banquet gala held at the Dover Downs Casino and Hotel. For those unfamiliar with how the Fraternity does its business, Omega Psi Phi is about far more than "hops," social events and the chants that many people mistake as the only activities of the 107-year-old Fraternity.

Not only do individual chapters conduct monthly business meetings, but once a year, the Brothers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania gather to host a four-day business conference to elect officers, set priorities and plan service events and other operational activities. It's also done this way in other districts.

 As part of the District Conference occasion, chapters and individuals who do outstanding work are cited. So are members of the greater community that Omega Psi Phi serves as part of its Social Action agenda, which accounts for the selection of Gamma Pi's Citizen of the Year awardee.

Gamma Pi is very active in the Second District, led by Bro. Adrian Wilcox, who this weekend was elected as the Second District Keeper of Finance. It is one of the most significant leadership roles in all of District operations. Bro. Wilcox is a professional insurance broker with his own agency.

Other Gamma Pi members who serve in appointed positions for the district are Bro. Gordon Everett, Sr. (committee chair); Bro. Teddy Taylor; Bro. Lawrence Dukes, Bro. Norwood and Bro. James Alexander.
Bro. J. Kendall Smalls with Gamma Pi awardees and stand-ins

The Super Chapter Behind the Scenes 
In addition to the awards, Gamma Pi played a behind-the-scenes role in the proceedings. Brother Brian "BK" Long, the Immediate Past three-term Basileus and now Chief of Staff for the Second District, orchestrated many of the logistics and kept 33rd Second District Representative Bro. J. Kendall Smalls and other District and Fraternity leaders updated and connected, including a major visit and address to the conference by the Fraternity's Grand Basileus, Bro, Dr. David T. Marion. Also, Gamma Pi was asked to develop a video slide show to showcase all the scrapbook submissions which was played during the gala.

Young Bros on the move with Gamma Pi
Led by Basileus Bro. Tony Lee, about 30 chapter members traveled here for the weekend meetings. As always when Omega men get together, time to fellowship and socialize was mixed in with the official business. It's the Omega way. For example, Omega men who were initiated at colleges and universities within the Second District often find the district conference a time to re-connect with their fellow chapter Brothers scattered in the region. But the business clearly came first.

Individual chapters of the Fraternity give out their local version of these awards every year during the Achievement Week period, which is the official observance of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity's Founders' Day, November 17, 1911. For district-level awards, each chapter's local winners are judged to determine who is the overall district winner for these categories.

This year's 71st Second District Conference was hosted by Psi Iota chapter in Dover. It was a smooth-operating, well-organized conference that many Brothers complimented. Next year, the 72nd Second District Conference will be hosted by the Iota Phi Chapter of Pittsburgh during the weekend of April 30-May 3, 2020. Travel plans are already underway for next year.


Below: Video Clip of Omega Man of the Year Award

Preparing for a session

Brothers pose with West Point Ques

Discussing the Proceedings

Bro. Basileus displays Social Action and Citizen of the Year awards

Gamma Pi's First Basileus Bro. Tim McIntosh

                                              Candid Shots from the Weekend Activities

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Gamma Pi's Project ENRICH Teaches Students to Speak Up, Speak Out Confidently

Student listens to feedback from Project ENRICH staff
They approached the front of the room one by one. Once positioned, they introduced themselves and identified their topics. And then it was time to start talking. Each one had a different cadence, a different decibel level and a different presentation style. But one thing that is common to each of the students who presented their essays at Saturday’s Project ENRICH session, is that they all had the opportunity to research and talk about an important part of Black history.

Each year, the April essays are nail-biting time for the students who must overcome the jitters to stand tall and deliver a coherent talk in a room full of their peers and parents. But it’s also one of Project ENRICH’s top learning activities. It goes to the core of one of the program’s key goals, to help students learn vital verbal communication skills as they prepare for college and life afterwards.

The students are assigned topics according to their class standing. For example, the freshmen were asked to research and write essays about the early 20th century Camp Logan Riots. What precipitated the riots and were the actions justified? The sophomores were given the task of orating on A. Phillip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The juniors spoke about The Great Migration of the 20th century that saw millions of African Americans “head north” to escape the clutches of Jim Crow in the deep south and latch on to better job opportunities. Finally, the seniors discussed the two types of African American leaders who dominated at the turn of the 20th century – the Assimilators and the Liberators. Which one should Black people have followed?

Persuading the audience
Project ENRICH Director Bro. Willie Hines views the essays as a training exercise for public speaking, as well as a venue to develop critical thinking skills. The students seem to understand and appreciate. After each presentation, students are given a critique by a panel of Project ENRICH staff, which included Gamma Pi members Hines, Lawrence Branch, Pete Ford, Marc Ellington, Jason Crump and James Riley.

Mastering the topic
“This subject was picked because we wanted you to understand what Camp Logan was all about,” director Hines said this morning. “These men left a military base and went into Houston and engaged police and whites…we want you to apply critical thinking skills to these topics.”

The subjects selected for also help the students learn about little-known or unknown Black history, as well as hone leadership skills, debate techniques and interpersonal communications skills. Project ENRICH is always reminding the students to practice and be ready to give their “30-second elevator speech.”

Project ENRICH awards prizes in every grade group. Winners will be announced next month.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Gamma Pi Brothers Show Up in Support of Fight Against Domestic Violence

Basileus Bro. Tony Lee, 2nd right and Social Action Chair Kevin Greenwood, 2nd left,
 with some of the other Gamma Pi Brothers at the domestic violence event

The Brothers of Gamma Pi don't have any problem rolling out of bed early on a Saturday morning, even after working all week, if it is for a good cause. Today, the Brothers rolled out and showed up at the Camelot by Martin's in Upper Marlboro to show support for and help local advocacy groups strategize in the fight domestic violence. For the third consecutive year, Gamma Pi participated in the Prince George's County MOMENTum "Men Making Our Relationships Excellent" Domestic Violence conference.
The chapter's participation was led by the Social action committee and was highlighted by the deployment of its new exhibit booth that served as an onsite home base for the distribution of information about the Fraternity and chapter and its ambitious Social Action initiatives. The booth received a multitude of visitors curious about Omega Psi Phi and about the various community programs the chapter is involved in.

Gamma Pi also drew praise for bringing about a dozen young boys from the nearby underserved Kentland Community-- many dressed professionally in their ties -- to learn an early life lesson in having a proper relationship with women. The young boys are part of Gamma Pi's long-running QueKidz mentoring initiative that sponsors a monthly series of social and education enrichment activities for the Kentland youth. The young boys were transported to the event by bus from the Kentland Community Center where QueKidz programs are held one Saturday a month.

One of the key aspects of the conference, sponsored by the county's Department of Family Services, was a series of breakout sessions, which the Brothers from Gamma Pi covered. For example, there was a session on "Understanding Domestic Violence and Your Role in Preventing It" which included discussions on learning how to detect, report and respond to domestic violence. Another one of the sessions focused on "Becoming a Better Man."  The Gamma Pi team attending the conference took an active part in the frank dialogue and informative discussion that came out of the conference.

"The conference created a gender specific community dialogue to educate men and youth on healthy relationships, non-violence, and to give them an opportunity to partner with other males in discussion to address domestic violence in Prince George’s County," said Social Action Chairman Kevin Greenwood. "We learned  lot."

In 2016, the chapter used the opportunity of attending the conference to observe and meet community leaders directing the fight. The focus now is on getting more actively engaged in the effort. In recent years, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. has turned more of its attention to the plight of domestic violence in our communities.

VIDEO CLIP: Que Kidz mentees arrive at the Camelot



Monday, November 19, 2018

Chapter's Achievement Week Events Filled with Enthusiasm, Inspiration and Participation

All the honorees
The Brothers of Gamma Pi closed the books on the 2018 Achievement Week observance on Saturday night, November 17, at the annual Rededication Service held at Howard University's Crampton Auditorium, buoyed into the 108th year of the Fraternity by the powerful challenging words of "not satisfied" from Bro. Mark Jackson, the Grand Keeper of Records and Seal.

About 50 Gamma Pi chapter members rolled up U Street Washington, D.C. in a Que car caravan -- direct from the November monthly chapter meeting -- to attend the service. The Gamma Pi Brothers were part of a full house of about 1,000 Fraternity members who came from near and far to the program, some by chartered bus.

Audience enjoys the program
Gamma Pi put on a spirited Achievement Week of its own, making the Howard program "icing on the cake." Friday night, November 16, the chapter hosted 100 Chapter members and Fraternity guests for the annual Robert Busby/Claudius Brothers Only dinner at Martin's Camelot. It was the first time that Gamma Pi had held the dinner at the plush location. Immediate Past Grand Keeper of Records and Seal Bro. Kenneth Rodgers, a Gamma Pi legend, offered the inspirational words of "unity" at the dinner. Brothers enjoyed a free-form fellowship afterwards. It was one of the best Brothers Only dinners in recent memory, from the atmosphere to the succulent food to the Brotherhood to the message of the evening.

 On Monday, November 12, when Veterans Day was observed, the Social Action committee led a contingent of Omega men who gathered at the P.G. House Men's Shelter in Capitol Heights to deliver suits and shirts to the residents. Marching up to the facility in single file, with the clothes in their possession, the Gamma Pi men were met with enthusiasm and appreciation from the shelter manager on duty. Brothers delivered a total of 35 suits and two dozen shirts to the shelter.

How good and pleasant it is when brethren ...
For Gamma Pi, Achievement Week kicked off on Saturday, November 10, with the chapter's annual communitywide awards program held at the Ernest E. Just Middle School. It was a full house audience that witnessed the bestowing of awards to the following community leaders and chapter members. Bro. Anthony Stewart served as emcee.

Incoming Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsbrooks (Citizen of the Year) and incoming Gamma Pi Vice Basileus Bro. Don Norwood (Omega Man of the Year), led the way in receiving the most coveted awards. Other winners were Kayla Lawrence (Student Athlete of the Year); Ms. Dives Lopes (Educator of the year); Rev. Akil Dickens (Religious Leader of the Year); Past Basileus Bro. Brian K. Long (Super Service Award);  and Bro. Kenneth Rodgers, Immediate Grand Keeper of Records & Seal (Founders Award).

In addition to the awards, the program was highlighted by an insightful and riveting keynote speech by Bro. Theodore "Ted" Johnson, a former Gamma Pi chapter member who is a nationally known commentator on social justice issues, and by the soul-stirring renditions sang by the Gamma Pi Chorale, under the leadership of Bro. Alan Stewart.

Earlier in the day, the Social Action committee organized a Veterans Day program for youth in the Kentland community. The event featured military veteran Omega men sharing their experiences and explaining their role and the impact that African Americans have had on the U.S. Armed Forces.

Congratulations to Brother Teddy Taylor and the Achievement Week committee for an exciting and challenging week. Brothers who engaged in the week's events clearly felt re-energized after an uplifting series of activities.