Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gamma Pi Closes Out a Very Successful and Uplifting Achievement Week with Community Event

Full house on hand -- soaking up the special occasion
Every Brother in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. draws a purple circle around November 17. For the uninitiated, November 17 is Founders' Day for this great Fraternity.  It is a time for every Brother to reflect back on the brilliance of the Founders and the charge they left with every member of Omega Psi Phi down through the generations, backed by the Four Cardinal Principles. For the public, Achievement Week is about recognizing the Uplift that Omega Psi Phi provides to the local community every day through individual and collective efforts, both seen and unseen.

This year, Gamma Pi's Achievement Week was worthy of a "purple circle" drawn around the entire week. Another year, yet another outstanding series of events by The Super Chapter, culminating in a standing room only communitywide Achievement Week program held Saturday afternoon at cozy Harmony Hall in Fort Washington. This year's theme was "Leveraging Our Collective Resources for Impact."

Basileus Brian Long and Bro. Rev. H. Beecher Hicks
Inspiring, Informing, Igniting

The program at Harmony Hall inspired, informed and ignited, a fitting close to a great week for Gamma Pi. Brother Richard Allison II led the afternoon as the official emcee, priming the audience for an afternoon of history, thoughtful messages and entertainment.

Brother Peter Harvey, Esq., the former Attorney General for the state of New Jersey, brought a thoughtful message to the audience about the deep meaning and purpose of Omega Psi Phi's founding in the context of social challenges faced today in the African American community. He deftly weaved together a number of issues and challenges that together represented a "call to action" for Omega.  For example, Brother Harvey reminded the Brothers and educated the audience that the Greek letters were not chosen "out of a hat" at random and the Four Cardinal Principles were thoroughly discussed and arrived at, and in the specified order in which they are presented -- Manhood, Scholarship,Perseverance and Uplift -- for a reason. Men of Omega, he said, are men who are ":called to action" and who are needed to address community issues today as when the Fraternity was founded.

Brother Harvey reviewed the meaning of  "a true Friend," another core aspect of Omega, by saying, "I define friendship this way: it's the people who will come see about you when it matters...they don't wait for you to stumble and fall, they come to lift you up."

Brother Harvey also used the occasion to challenge the Brothers of Gamma Pi and Omega to educate about and fight against domestic violence. He provided a moving scenario in which he asked the Brothers to think of two important women in their lives, and imagine them being assaulted at the hands of a man. At the end of his remarks, Brother Harvey revealed that he is working with a couple of professional sports leagues to develop personal conduct policies in light of recent high-profile media reports about domestic violence involving athletes. Brother Harvey drew a standing ovation.

While this year's event was a return to the traditional community program, it was anything but "run-of-the-mill," given the full house, the new venue, the impassioned message of the speaker and the energy of the audience. To read more about Brother Harvey's illustrious career in law and the Fraternity, read the preview article in The Gamma Pi Gazette: Achievement Week Preview

Bro. Harvey's entire speech can be viewed on Gamma Pi's You Tube channel: Gamma Pi TV

Fraternity and Community Awards

Gamma Pi used the program to present its customary Achievement Week awards to the community and to members of the chapter. It is always one of the highlights of Achievement Week and especially the community program.

Brothers Rodgers (Grand KRS), Calhoun, Folsom and Turner
Brother Tony Lee, Vice Basileus, was named Gamma Pi's Omega Man of the Year for 2014; Brother William "Bill" Reese, who chaired this year's Achievement Week program, was named Superior Service Award winner; Brother Otis Fowler, Vice Chair for Achievement Week, received The Founders' Award; Brother Roland Jones, newly named to a top county government position, was presented The Citizen of the Year award; Brother Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks was named Religious Leader of the Year; and Brother Donald Belle received the Educator of the Year award.  The chapter also recognized scholarship winners who are collectively receiving more than $24,000 in support from the Charles Drew Memorial Scholarship Foundation and Gamma Pi this academic year.

Bro Basileus Long also recognized four Brothers for their contributions by having them serve as Founders stand-ins: Brothers Grand Keeper of Records and Seal Kenneth Rodgers, Maurice Calhoun, Second District Chaplain Rev. Dr. Gerald Folsom and Thaddeus Turner. Also, Bro. Long recognized Brother James Alexander for receiving the District Superior Service award in 2014.

Youth talent was clearly on display during the program, thanks to the soothing sounds of the Surrattsville High School Choir under the direction of Brother Marcus Davis and the Charles H Flowers High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Brother Don DeMarco Myles. Both musical aggregations demonstrated the plentiful, rich talent that is alive and well in Prince George's County's schools.
At the Howard University Rededication

The Hon. Bro. Rushern Baker, Prince George's County Executive, helped close the program out with a ringing endorsement of Gamma Pi's solid reputation and active commitment to the greater Prince George's Community.

A Special Week from Start to Finish

Ironically, the week began on Sunday, November 16, with a chapter visit to Pillar of Truth Baptist Church, the church pastored by Vice Basileus Bro. Tony Lee, the 2014 Omega Man of the Year for Gamma Pi. About 30 Brothers attended the service in Capitol Heights. Known for his humor and wit, Bro. Rev. Lee, referring to several Scriptural passages, stirred Omega souls with a message about the requirements of a Friend versus the requirements of a Brother. Brothers Lee and Harvey essentially gave bookend messages about Friendship and Brotherhood that allowed each to make complementary points. You can stitch those two messages together like fabric and Gamma Pi Brothers received a dynamic challenge for Achievement Week. It could not have worked out better as the starting and ending points for Achievement Week.
Brothers and Vice Basileus Rev. Tony Lee after Nov. 16 service

In between the beginning of Achievement Week and the end of it, Gamma Pi had a contingent of about 50 Brothers to go to the Rededication Ceremony at Howard University on Founders' Day, November 17. As always, Gamma Pi represented well, having one of the bigger chapter aggregations at the Rededication ceremony.

The Super Chapter also hosted about 80 Omega men from in and outside the chapter for its popular annual Omega Brothers Only Dinner at Andrews Air Force Base on Friday night, November 21. Gamma Pi's Brother Rodgers, the Grand Keeper of Records and Seal, brought a powerful personal message about how you get from Omega what you put into it, using his own story about making the tough transition from college to the graduate level after initially being disengaged with the Fraternity. He described the inner satisfaction of returning to the fold after initially being away for a brief period, now since remaining forever engaged and committed, realizing how much he had missed the fellowship of being among Brothers. Clearly, he has embraced the full meaning of brotherhood having been elected to a Supreme Council post.

Just a year ago, Gamma Pi celebrated its 40th anniversary Achievement Week with a stellar, first-class, star-studded formal dinner program that paid homage to the chapter's history and lineage. While  the overarching story line last year was about Gamma Pi turning 40, this year it was about the chapter's greatest accomplishment in Omega -- electing the first Grand officer  from Gamma Pi to the Supreme Council of Omega Psi Phi, in the person of Brother Rodgers, who is also a past three-term Basileus for Gamma Pi and the former two-term Second District Representative.

Truly, the Super Chapter has come a long way and is on track to go even further as one of the shining lights of Omega. Achievement Week was a great time to recognize that accomplishment and emphasize the message of seeking even higher heights for the future for Gamma Pi. 


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