Sunday, November 21, 2010

Obama Administration Official, Fraternity Member Propels Gamma Pi Achievement Week

Bro. Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr. speaks
You had to be there to feel the spirit of the place and sense the spirit of the Founders of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. at Gamma Pi's Achievement Week observance held Saturday at the Drew-Freeman Middle School in Suitland. Thanks to some powerful words from Guest Speaker Brother Joe Leonard, Jr., Ph.D., today's Achievement Week program hit on just the right chords for both youth and adults who made up a packed house at the school. In light of the upcoming Centennial Celebration for Omega Psi Phi in 2011, this year's Achievement Week was special. Brother Brian Long served as Emcee.

Bro. Marcus Davis and Surrattsville Choir
Brother Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, led the way with a formidable challenge to the young people gathered in the audience to chase dreams and goals and not money and position as they begin to build their careers and establish their place in the world. He provided some hints for success, referring to his own background and to profiles of successful people outlined in a book by Malcolm Gladwell:

"You have to spend about 10,000 hours doing something you love if you are going to be successful," he said in his remarks. The upshot of his message for the students was to give their all and become passionate about what they feel they are good at in order to become truly successful. He related the story of his own career and how he knew at age 8 that he wanted to work in civil rights. He did not just fall into it. Brother Dr. Leonard is appointed by President Obama and confirmed to his post by the U.S. Senate. Just this week, he was a point person in the historic settlement of more than $1 billion to black U.S. farmers in a decades-old discrimination case involving government loans and loan payments.

True to the Cardinal Principles of Uplift and Scholarship, Saturday's event showcased just how one chapter of Omega Psi Phi can help uplift a community and make a difference in bringing along the next generation through creating educational opportunity.  After all, that is what the Founders envisioned. Gamma Pi is involved in building and improving local communities and in creating and enhancing educational opportunities for local youth, who were well represented at today's program.

Omega Man of the Year Bro. Felder and Family
 In addition to Brother Dr. Leonard's keynote speech, several Community service awards and Fraternity service awards were also presented during the program. Winners of the Community Service Awards are: Kenya Colbert, Scholar Athlete of the Year (daughter of Brother Derek Colbert); Brenda J. Gilmore, Citizen of the Year; and Gamma Pi Brother Rev. Rodney Barnes as Religious Leader of the Year.

Winners of the Fraternity Awards are: Brother Joe Felder (Keeper of Records and Seal), Omega Man of the Year; Brother Terry Rogers, Founder's Award; Brother Maurice Calhoun (Basileus 2008-10), Superior Service Award; and Brother Rodney Beverly, Citizen of the Year. Bro. Felder was presented for Man of the Year by Brother Tim McIntosh, Gamma Pi's first Basileus.

Basileus Calhoun thanks Bro. Leonard
The chapter also awarded 10 scholarships to Prince George's County seniors, which brings the total scholarship awards for this year to more than $23,000. Those winners were Brandolyn Irene Burks (Flowers High School) Temple University: Carl Franklin Felton III (Suitland High) Towson University; Courtney Camille Ford (St. John's College High) Spelman College; Nicole Lorraine Heard (Gwynn Park High) University of Maryland; Kyle Julien Majors (Flowers) Alabama A&M University; Modinat Mayowa Mustapha (Bladensburg High) University of Maryland; Min Namkoong (Roosevelt High) Maryland- Baltimore County; Renee Elizabeth Plummer (Central High) Howard University; Kiah YeWon Victoria (Bowie High) New York University; and Ciara Janee Williams (Gwynn Park High) Spelman College.

Thanks also to Brothers Patrick Johnson and Brian King, who serve as co-chairs for Achievement Week. Some video from Saturday's event is below and also thanks to Brother David Sierra of the PR Committee for the photos:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Project ENRICH Gets Off to a Flying Start as Youth Are Treated to Inspirational Talks

Project ENRICH Students Listening
 You wouldn't know it was Saturday morning by the buzz of activity and positive academic energy coming from the Thurgood Marshall Library at Bowie State University earlier today. While many were using the time to sleep in, the Brothers from Gamma Pi were fully awake and at the helm guiding and directing our youth toward the future as the chapter kicked off the first monthly session for this year's Project ENRICH.  Just two weeks removed from an outstanding opening ceremony that drew a full house, Brothers joined forces with enrolled students and their parents in rolling up their sleeves and going to work for what will be a rigorous year of academic and personal enrichment.

Led by Brother Dwayne "Pete"Ford, the new program coordinator who is stepping up to replace the retired Brother Roland Byrd, Brothers from the chapter delivered the first of what will be numerous pitches concerning critical information about scholarships, completing homework, careers, colleges, confidence, public speaking and "competency and competitiveness" in a tough, unforgiving world.

Brothers Cox and Jarmon lead session
 This year's Project ENRICH offers a new component -- mentoring. Several Brothers in the chapter have already received formal training in that area in preparation for applying those skills in this year's program. Gamma Pi's Project ENRICH has caught fire in recent years as more Prince George's County parents see the benefits of the chapter's formal, four-year program to prepare their students for college that is free and intense. The program builds off the expertise of Gamma Pi members who are in education as well as connections many Brothers have with area educators.

"The Master" Bro. Byrd in attendance
 "There is one thing you cannot put in a book, and that is the passion of the individual," said Brother Ford in addressing the students. His message to the participating students and their families was to get serious about their academic skills, show some passion for succeeding academically and be aggressive in pursing educational and career opportunities.

In addition to Brother Ford's talk, Brother Wesley Jarmon, head of the Ernst E. Just Foundation, and retired educator Brother Barron Stroud, also spoke to the students. Brother Jarmon outlined an upcoming February trip for some of the Project ENRICH students to a Science Symposium in South Carolina in honor of Omega Psi Phi Founder Dr. Errnest E. Just.  Speaking of "passion," Brother Stroud hit home the importance of education and the payoff to come with an emotional, inspiring, no-holds-barred, locker-room-style talk that had all the students and parents sitting up in their seats and taking note. After hearing the initial talks by Brothers, students were split off into groups for classroom sessions based on their class.

Below are some video clips from today.