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.