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.”  

Gamma Pi Wins Second District Graduate Chapter of the Year: Working Through the Pandemic

Brothers proudly posing with the hardware 

After what has been a very difficult year due to the pandemic and the loss of stalwart members, Gamma Pi Chapter in Prince George's County, MD got some good Omega news recently when it was named "Graduate Chapter of the Year" for Large Graduate Chapters (more than 50 members) during the recent virtual five-state 73rd Second District Conference, held during May 13-16.

The Super Chapter was honored for its aggressive social action program defined by tireless efforts leading almost-weekly COVID food drives in the county, sponsoring social justice and health programs through videoconference, and moving its Project ENRICH college prep program online during the pandemic. Chapters compete for the award by entering a "scrapbook" of their Fraternity year activities. The entries are reviewed and adjudicated by a committee.

Gamma Pi is grateful for the award, but stands together in celebration with all Omega Men in the Second District who are working to better their respective communities every day through their chapters. Gamma Pi is the fourth-largest chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. with more than 200 dues-paying members.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Gamma Pi's Project ENRICH Program Stunned at Sudden Loss of Stalwart Brother Shortly After Giving Powerful Remarks

During today's closing program for Gamma Pi Chapter's Project ENRICH college prep program, first-year director Bro. James Riley, Jr. was getting the virtual program started when a few minutes in he threw the virtual mic to Bro. William Bill "364" Reese.  Bro. Riley asked Bro. Reese to provide some of his infinite wisdom to departing seniors. It was as routine as it gets during Project ENRICH as program leaders are always called on to provide some Uplift to the students. But nobody can impart the kind of wisdom of Bro. Reese, affectionately called "364" because that is his Life Membership number in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Bro. Reese has more than 50 years in Omega.

Like a home run hitter getting just the right pitch, Bro Reese, when called upon, gathered himself and smacked the opportunity clear out of the park. It went over the fence and into the stands. He delivered powerful, moving, touching remarks that in retrospect turned out to be his last goodbye to all. After he ended his remarks, he turned from his computer, stood up and walked away as his Web Ex connection remained active and his mic was muted. His camera stayed on.  He was not in view and never came back into view. All that could be seen was his empty leather chair. The word spread quickly throughout Gamma Pi about an hour after the program ended that Bro. Reese had passed -- entering Omega Chapter right after giving the remarks and going off-camera. Today, the shockwaves have been felt like an earthquake tremor in the chapter, in the Fraternity and in the community. 

Bro. Reese (Rho Theta '70), of Waco, Tex., is being remembered tonight as an Omega man's Omega -- loyal to the Fraternity and the Four Cardinal Principles, true to the Brothers till the end. His last words were inspiring and Uplifting to young people at a time when they most needed to hear inspiration and Uplift. His wife Rita worked alongside him at Project ENRICH in 2019 when it was being held in-person at Bowie State University prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Mrs. Reese started a special initiative for Project ENRICH young women called I.N.S.T.A.G.R.A.M while he worked with young men by holding Young Gentlemen sessions to talk about life.

Today's program was broadcast live on Facebook vis WebEx. Below is a video clip of Bro. Reese's excerpted remarks just before his untimely passing. For Gamma Pi, it is the second huge body blow in just the past three months as Immediate Past Basileus Bro. Rev. Tony Lee lost his life to the coronavirus at just age 52 in January while hospitalized.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Super Chapter Marks One Year of Leading Food Drives by Holding Another Food Giveaway

When Brothers gave out the first few boxes of free food to drive-ups last year in April, shortly after the COVID pandemic was declared, they figured the chapter would do one or two more giveaways and  in a few weeks the battle with COVID would be over. As members of The Super Chapter stood outside in the vast parking lot at Suitland High School on Saturday, April 17 loading cars with yet again food boxes, they could not believe a year later, here they were in the same spot. And the need was as great as ever.

Partners pose for photo during a break

Gamma Pi decided to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID food giveaways it has been leading throughout Prince George's County by returning to the original location and giving out yet more food as the pandemic raged into its second year. The one difference this time was the promise of newly distributed vaccines.

The Brothers distributed more than 500 food packages that are designed to feed a family of four. As always at these events, cars were lined up early outside the gate before the start time of 11 a.m. Shortly after 1 p.m. the food was all gone. A year later, the need has not subsided as many people remain out of work due to the impact that the highly contagious virus has had on many industries, such as hospitality and retail.

Cars are lined up an hour before the opening
Ironically, Gamma Pi conducted the food drive on the same day as the scheduled monthly chapter meeting, essentially pulling "double duty." It's not the first time the Brothers have taken care of local citizens in the morning before Omega business in the evening.

"This was not a celebration but a commemoration," Gamma Pi Basileus Steven Walls told WTOP radio reporter Valerie Bonk in a taped phone interview from the Suitland site. The chapter food drive attracted the attention of local media. In addition to WTOP radio, Fox 5 NEs covered the food drive and ran a feature story on its 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts later that evening.

Gamma Pi led food drives that fed more than 60,000 families in 2020.

Screenshot from the Fox5 D.C. news story on Gamma Pi



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