Thursday, November 11, 2021

Gamma Pi Prepares to Celebrate Chapter Military Veterans for Achievement Week

Bro. James Wyatt
Every year, the Omega Psi Phi Achievement Week observance is about recognizing leaders in the community and the Fraternity. Each and every chapter in the U.S. and in overseas locations pauses for a week to remind the 110-year-old Fraternity's proud membership of the clarion call of the Founders who overlaid the Four Cardinal Principles of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift on top of a foundation of service.

As a part of this year's Achievement Week observance, the Brothers of Gamma Pi Chapter are recognizing Omega men who have demonstrated service of the highest order -- service to country as members of the United States Military.

In Gamma Pi, a chapter of more than 200 members, approximately 15% of members are military veterans, many having completed distinguished careers. The chapter's Protocol Committee is leading the charge to pay homage to its military veterans this year during Achievement Week, which often encompasses the November 11 Veterans' Day holiday. 

Gamma Pi men cover all the major branches of the service -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Many Brothers achieved officer status. Some are still serving as reservists and are even participating in overseas tours as recently as in the last year.

Bro. Roland Penn 
"Continuing in the tradition of Col. Charles Young, Gamma Pi’s Omega Men serve and served our great nation with honor, dignity and pride. Thank you for your service!," said Bro. Terry Rogers, a member of the Protocol Committee and an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Army who retired as a Captain.

As part of the salute to military Brothers, the protocol committee has collected photographs of Gamma Pi men in their official military uniforms and gear, many from "back in the day." Some go as far back as the early 1950s, namely Bros. James Wyatt (Army) and Roland Penn (Air Force), who are both in their 80s and spry as ever. Must have been the military training mixed in with the Omega experience that has kept these Brothers young!

According to Bro Rogers, the idea to pay respects to military veterans for this year's Achievement Week was the brainchild of Bro. Ron Swann. Chapter Brothers with a military background were requested to send in their photos and short bios for this project. Below are the photos and military thumbnails of other Gamma Pi Brothers:

NAVY

Brother Aaron Ajani, Lieutenant Commander, 18 years, Active, 1MP2010, LM 6909

AIR FORCE


Brother Joseph C Ramsey, Colonel USAF (Ret) Service: Feb 1964 to Nov 1991

 

Brother Tim Blount, USAF, Col Retired, 23 years


Brother Harold Pratt - Sgt. U.S. Air Force - served 9/67 to 6/71 (crew member flying combat missions Vietnam era)


Brother Clint Green, U.S. Air Force, from 1978 to 1982 as a Missile Combat Crew Commander. Then 1982 to 1989 as Logistician. 

 
ARMY

Brother Marc Ellington, Major, U.S. Army (Retired) Service 30 December 1983-31 July 2004 

Brother Terry Rogers, Cpt. US Army Transportation Corp., 1979-1990


Brother Roderick Lawrence (Retired) 25.5 years, Dec 1987 to Jun 2013

Brother Ronnie J. McIlwain, Served 29 years in the Army 


Brother Christopher Green, enlisted into the US Army at age 18 in December 1995 to May 1998, to Virginia National Guard until 2003.  He served as Heavy Construction Equipment Engineer.

   

Brother Joshua P. Roberson, US Army- Vietnam era


Brother Michael Mitchell, JAG CORPS, Army, Major / O-4, 20 years of service as a drilling reservist (active)


Brother Willie L Blanding, Jr., LTC, US Army, 26 years


Brother Kenneth Rodgers, Major, US Army, 24 years


Brother James Riley, US Army, 4 years, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division Air Assault


Brother Darryl Thompson, Army Reserves, 20 Years, Military Police/Force Protection


Brother Lawrence Dukes, 3 years Army - Active Duty, 11 years Army National Guard


Brother Gregory Gaines, 1LT (p) US Army AG Corp, 3 Years



Bro. James Wyatt more recently  
(Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.) 1953-1979

 

MARINES

Brother Donald Hart, GPI Spring 90, Marine Corps, Served from 1979-1982

 




Sunday, October 3, 2021

New Year for Project ENRICH: Focus on Careers and Colleges

For the second consecutive year, Gamma Pi Chapter's Project ENRICH opened the academic year by adjusting cameras, opening microphones and pressing buttons on their computers, rather than filing into an auditorium on the campus of Bowe State University. The only thing that resembled pre-pandemic Project ENRICH is that it was a Saturday morning. Second-year director Bro. James Riley, Jr. and other Brothers working with the program along with the newly registered students held the 2021-22 opening session on the Web Ex video platform.

"I believe in leaning on resources. We don't always have the answer, but what we are always going to do is find the answer," said Bro. Riley in his opening remarks.

The opening session was used to introduce the members of the chapter who will be working with this year's group of young college aspirants, and also to introduce students to each other.. This year's focus is "Careers and Colleges" and to get the students warmed up for this year, they were led in discussions about what their dream jobs looked like, what charity they would donate to if they had $1 million and about residual income earning opportunities.

Team leads working with this year's class are Brothers Andrew Gibson, Anthony Smith, Chris Green, Jason Crump, John  Howard and Damien Goins. Vice Basileus Bro. Richard Allison, who is also Gamma Pi's incoming Basileus, greeted the students at the start.

The overarching message every year at Project ENRICH is that the high school years are critical to future success. Bro Goins summed it up best: "These four years will set you up for the next 40.If you play with these years now, you will pay later. If you pay during these years now, you can play later."

As positive as the opening session was, a dark cloud hovered overhead left over from the closing program for the 2020-21 academic year, which ended on a tragic and surreal note for Project ENRICH. On May 1, Gamma Pi Bro. and program lead William "364" Reese gave a rousing speech to the students, sending, them off for the summer with some powerful words of wisdom, only to suddenly pass away a few minutes later off screen. Word reached everyone just a few hours after the closing session ended on WebEx. Bro. Riley encouraged students who witnessed that tragedy to utilize it as a lesson for overcoming adversity.

It is not too late to register for Project ENRICH, visit the website here: Project ENRICH.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Gamma Pi Brother Prepares to Release New Book on the Critical Role of Black Fathers in Families

A Gamma Pi Chapter Brother is about to set the world on fire with a brand new book about Black fathers. Bro. Anthony McAllister, his wife Tyreese along with 17 amazing co-authors, are set to release his anthology titled, "Fathers Matter," on Sunday, October 10 with a virtual book launch party on Zoom. The book is intended to change the narrative of Black fathers. One of the dynamic co-authors is Bro. Kevin Greenwood, also of Gamma Pi, and writing the foreword is the 39th Grand Basileus of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Bro. Dr. Andrew Ray. 

The book launch will take place from 7-9 p.m. It is open invitation. Here is the link.

It is not an accident that Bro McAllister, as the book's lead author, is an Omega man. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, has had a focus on Fatherhood and Mentoring in recent years including as a formal initiative. The Fraternity partnered with The White House on fatherhood and mentoring during the Administration of  President Barack Obama.

The McAllister's new book is just another part of their amazing resilient response in reaching out and giving hope and help to others after losing one of their two daughters, Ayana, to gun violence in Washington, D.C while she was a college freshman home for Spring Break in 2017. They have formed a foundation in her memory. For more information, visit the Ayana J. McAllister Legacy Foundation.

Below is an interview that Bro. McAllister recently provided to Gamma Pi News and Notes about his new book and the impetus for it. He and Bro. Greenwood and Bro Grand Dr. Ray were all interviewed about the book on Gamma Pi's "Community UPLIFT" television show early this year. 

1. When is your book about Black fathers releasing? Tell us details about the launch?

The book is scheduled to be released on September 22.  Because of the current Covid climate, I am currently planning our virtual launch which will take place either the first or second Sunday in October. The event will take place via zoom platform and will be open to the public. This will be advertised on social media, and other social networks.   

2. Tell us what the book is about and what inspired it. 

This anthology is filled with stories from 18 African-American men talking about their plights on being black fathers, or having a phenomenal father or men in their lives. The inspiration behind this anthology came from the loss of my 18-year-old daughter in 2017, and during this time I was approached by many people often asking how my wife was doing. This was a normal and legitimate question, but I often felt lost and left out as no was asking how I was handling my daughter’s death. As my wife and I discussed this, she inspired me to take this opportunity to give voice to black fathers.  This is often the case when it comes to black fathers and I felt that this was an opportunity not only to give me voice, but to share the opportunity with men in my immediate circle.  

3. How long did you work on the book? 

From beginning to end this entire anthology project took a little over 12 months.

4. Who were your collaborators and what role did they play? 

Each co-author contributed to the project by writing their separate chapters. This was truly a group effort, and it promises to be a game changer on changing the narrative on black fathers.

5. How does this book relate to Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s focus on fathers? 

We were honored and blessed that Dr. Andrew A. Ray, the 39th Grand Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated consented to write the foreword. Additionally, he penned a story in the anthology entitled “Male vs Manhood”.  Additionally, there are stories from four Omega Men in this Anthology. 

6. What do you hope will be the outcome and impact of this work? 

It is my sincere hope that this anthology will be used as a teaching tool for Young Fathers as they embark on their journeys into fatherhood. Additionally, it is my hope that this anthology will begin to change the negative stereotype that we as black men have had to endure throughout the years, and that this will be an opportunity for us to change the Narrative on black fathers.

7. What do you think is often overlooked about Black fathers? Does your book address that? 

I think there are several things that are often overlooked when one talks about the black father. The media will have us to believe that black fathers are not present, that we are not family oriented, and that we do not have the ability to openly love. In this anthology you will see men pouring out their hearts and sharing information on their plights on being Fathers. You will see men being vulnerable discussing issues on counseling and therapy, and giving homage to other black men that have poured into them and aiding them in being the men they are today.  

8. What final thoughts and challenges do you want to leave with Black Fathers? 

My final thoughts move me to a posture of gratitude and I want to thank each and every co-author that contributed to this anthology, as I know when one has an opportunity to read the pages of this book it will truly be a game changer. Lastly, I sincerely want to thank Bro. Grand Dr. Andrew A. Ray, who did not hesitate when I reached out and asked him to take part in this most important anthology. He also gave the charge to men in his chapter on the importance of knowing the difference of Male vs Man. He has been so gracious throughout this entire project and I am better having met and had the opportunity to discuss life with him. Please do us and yourself a favor and pick up your copy. The book can be purchased at www.anthonymcallister.com. Thank you so much Gamma Pi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity , Inc. for supporting this most important effort.

Below: Bro. Grand Dr. Andrew Ray and Bro. Kevin Greenwood



Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Gamma Pi Gives Special Graduation Gifts to Epsilon Sigma Brothers at Bowie State University

When it comes to graduation gifts, it is the thought that counts. For the young Brothers of Epsilon Sigma Chapter in the graduating Class of 2021 at Bowie State University, the graduation gift from the graduate chapter Brothers of nearby Gamma Pi Chapter was about the thought as well as the uniqueness. In a gesture of pure Omega love – love for the Fraternity and for each other – the Brothers of Gamma Pi bestowed all four Bowie State graduates who are Omegas with stoles that adorned their gowns on graduation day. Of course, the stoles were Purple and Gold.

“The Brothers of Gamma Pi are always looking for innovative ways of continuing to bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate brothers,” said Bro. Shawn Estelle (Epsilon Sigma '93), who oversees Gamma Pi’s advisory relationship with Epsilon Sigma. “These brotherly gestures help in strengthening the bond and will lay the groundwork for their transition to a graduate chapter and their continued service to the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.”

The gifts were especially meaningful given the challenges experienced by graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. While these young Brothers will no doubt remember what they went through with interruptions, disruptions and virtual classes and events, during almost two years of the epidemic, they will have even greater memories from receiving some Fraternity colors to go with their graduation regalia. Four stoles were purchased and delivered to the young men – three who graduated this spring and one who will graduate during the summer.

“We chose a traditional design made out of handwoven kente cloth symbolizing the link with our ancestors. Of course, the bright Purple and Gold is in honor of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.” said Bro. Estelle, who credited Gamma Pi’s Bro. Rodney Beverly with having come up with the idea as a way of extending congratulations. He hopes it becomes a tradition.

 The Epsilon Sigma Chapter sent a letter of thanks to Gamma Pi Chapter that read, in part, “The Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. would like to thank the Gamma Pi Brothers for sponsoring our three chapter Brothers with Fraternity stoles during the spring 2021 Graduation Commencement Ceremony. This academic year was a tough one for a lot of reasons but, we were blessed with three graduates in the Class of 2021 from the illustrious Bowie State University.”

 The three spring recipients are Bro. Stefon Somers (Spring 2018), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; Bro. Quentin Braswell (Spring 2019), Bachelor Of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management; and Bro. R.J. Rountree (Spring 2020), Bachelor Of Science in Sports Management. The summertime graduating Brother's name was unavailable at press time.

“Our chapter is blessed to have been able to receive the support from our neighboring brothers of Prince George’s County,” Epsilon Sigma continued in their thank you letter. “The 2020-2021 Academic School year has been severely challenging for most due to Covid-19 restrictions and even though our brothers had the ability to persevere, being able to check one thing off of their To-Do list for graduation needs is something to be highly grateful for.” So, on Behalf of our three chapter brothers the Epsilon Sigma Chapter is much obliged for the helping hand and appreciates the endless support from the Gamma Pi chapter.”