One of the true joys of my life is being a mother and grandmother.
So, when I learned about Grands As Parents I was especially moved by the mission of this organization. I understand the love, energy and dedication that the group’s members share in raising their grandchildren. Even though I don’t have the primary responsibility of raising my grandchildren, I know it takes a village to do so, and I salute them!
On Sunday, Grands As Parents celebrated Grandparents Day and 15 years of service at their 15th Annual Anniversary Luncheon. The event was held at Temple University’s Diamond Club in North Philadelphia.
Each year, Grands As Parents honors individuals who have made meaningful contributions to the organization’s growth and development. Among this year’s “HELP A CHILD, KEEP A SMILE” honorees was Philadelphia City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, who is City Council’s Majority Whip and represents the Fifth Council District. “As an elected official I recognize that it is important that we in government try to provide whatever resources that are available because Grands As Parents is a stabilizing force in our community,” Councilman Clarke remarked.
Other individuals recognized at the event were state Rep. Michelle S. Brownlee who represents the 195th Legislative District; Aissia L. Richardson, president of the African American United Fund; and Shariff Street, who is a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Grands As Parents President Eileen Brown said, “Our honorees this year helped us make our move from the Church of the Advocate a smooth transition into new opportunities for the organization. Our annual luncheon is a celebration of the continuity of our services and advocacy and recognizes the assistance each honoree provided to us as we maintain the programs our constituents need and develop new partnerships and alliances to fulfill our mission.”
President of the African American United Fund (AAUF) Michelle Aissia Richardson noted, “Grands As Parents is an important North Philadelphia institution with committed leaders and strong constituent support. I am honored to be recognized for the role AAUF has played this year in assisting the organization to achieve program goals. As AAUF celebrates its 30th Anniversary, our mission to provide technical assistance to nonprofits remains as firm as it did when we were founded during the 1982 recession. Now that we are in another economic crisis, it’s more important than ever for organizations to pull together to improve our community.”
Grands As Parents was founded in 1996 to assist, support and advocate for the rights of grandparents. This advocacy focuses on creating changes in our society to ensure that children grow fruitfully into adulthood. The name of the organization was chosen to signify the way grandparents replace the gaps of parenthood in grandchildren’s lives.
State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas made heartfelt remarks about the work of Grands As Parents. Also, a few of those “Out & About” for the well attended event were Lillian Hentz, Darlene Marcus, Charis Parker, Shelly Day and Wanda Johnson.
Sharif Street was joined by his son, Sharif Street Jr., daughter, Sheyla Street and stepchildren Maliya Ennels and Sunai Kinight. State Rep. Michelle Brownlee’s lovely granddaughter, Blake Jeune, accompanied her grandmother. Aissia Richardson was joined by her lovely mother, Linda Richardson, and her daughter, Yasmine Richardson. State Rep. Vanessa Brown also attended the event.
Congratulations and continued success are extended to all!
For more information or to support Grands As Parents programs, please contact Jean Hackney, vice president of the organization, at (215) 236-5848.
Have a fantastic week “Out & About” in Philadelphia, everyone!
Raina Marie Johnson and Jack N.E. Pitts Jr. were married on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, in an elegant early evening ceremony at One Atlantic in Atlantic City, N.J. The couple was married by pastor Adam Jacobs of As You Are Church in Raesda, Calif., as approximately 250 guests, family and friends from as far away as California, Michigan, Arizona, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., looked on.
In a vintage trumpet style gown, the bride was as beautiful as the picture perfect day at the Jersey Shore. It was adorned with an ornate lace-edged train with crystal and beaded detail throughout, including a crystal-embellished belt. A piece of the fabric from the father-of-the-bride’s suit that he wore on his wedding day to Raina’s mother was sewn in the shape of a heart on the inside of Raina’s gown. The bride wore Jimmy Choo stilettos with “something blue” being the blue crystal lettering reading “I Do” on the soles of her shoes.
About the Bride
Raina Marie Johnson, 28, is the daughter of Randall and Tanya Johnson. She was born in Boston, Mass. Raina’s childhood years were spent in Stoughton, Mass., and Huntsville, Ala. These years were filled with dance recitals — and Pastime, which, thanks to her “Nanny” (great-grandmother), was all she ate until she was four. In the mid-1990s, Raina and her family moved to New Jersey, where they “and her heart” have been ever since. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2005. In 2008, Raina received her Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law — which is where she met Jack. Licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Raina is now in her second year as an associate with a law firm where she defends public entities against employment, education and civil rights claims.
About the Groom
Jack Nelson Evangelista Pitts Jr., 29, is the son of Jack N.E. Pitts Sr. and Greta Pitts-Moore. He was born in Lansing, Mich., and spent his early childhood years in Lansing and the suburbs of Detroit playing with G.I. Joes, sleeping with a football and making countless trips to the city for little league practices and games. After moving to East Lansing, Jack starred on the football field and in the classroom at East Lansing High School, earning a football scholarship to Hillsdale College where he played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and corner back during his four-year tenure. He received a bachelor’s degree in financial management in 2004 and graduated from Howard University School of Law, with Raina, in May of 2008. Currently, Jack is a third year associate at a law firm where his practice focuses on securities law, capital markets transactions and advising sponsors of and institutional investors in private investment funds.
The Wedding Party
The bride’s stunning attendants wore elegant black silk dresses adorned with crystals. Handsome groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos with black suspenders, white pocket squares and classic all-black ties. The ladies in the wedding party were: Teri Curtis, maid of honor; Stephanie Spow, maid of honor; and bridesmaids Dareth Wallace, Devin Williams, Stephanie Johnson, Kayra Merrills, Aja Nowlin and Erin Cannon.
The groom was supported by Jean Pitts, best man; Adam Jacobs, officiant/groomsman; and groomsmen James Barr, Jason Hollowell, Fred Walker, Charles Mann, Josh House, Jason Johnson and Todd Johnson.
A lavish yet intimate reception at One Atlantic followed the ceremony. There was also an after party at The Chelsea Hotel themed, “Happily Ever After.” The new Mrs. Pitts changed into a short, white party dress with a crystal bodice and comfortable, designer crystal flats. The couple danced their first dance as husband and wife to “With These Hands” by Joe Sample featuring Howard Hewett, and the groom danced to “Summertime” by Sam Cooke with his mother. Raina danced to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. And wasn’t that appropriate?
Guests were treated to a professional cigar roller and photo booth complete with props for guests to play dress up! In lieu of guest favors, the bride and groom made a donation to the American Cancer Society.
Those Very Special Moments
One of the most special moments of Raina and Jack’s wedding was the first time Jack saw Raina in her wedding dress. The first look occurred at the entrance of The Pier at Caesar’s. Surrounded by the bridal party and his parents, as well as hundreds of onlookers on the Boardwalk who had slowly gathered around the entrance in anticipation of Raina’s entrance, Jack watched from a far as Raina’s Rolls Royce Phantom slowly drove atop the Boardwalk and inched slowly towards him.
When the car finally arrived for Jack, Raina’s parents exited from both sides. Jack then escorted Raina from the limousine, seeing his bride for the first time. After sharing a few whispered words and a few tears, Raina and Jack kissed to the cheers of the crowd and, hand-in-hand, entered The Pier. It was truly magical!
The newlyweds honeymooned in Paris and the South of France, specifically Cannes. The honeymoon, planned from start to finish by Jack, included everything from a private cooking lesson with a French chef, dinner aboard the Marina de Paris on the River Seine, a bicycle tour along Giverny to Monet’s gardens, guided tours of the Louvre and Versailles and dining at the most famous restaurants and cafés in Paris, including in the Eifel Tower and Les Cocottes. In the South of France, Raina and Jack stayed at the chic Hotel Martinez in Cannes and spent their days relaxing on the beach, swimming in the Mediterranean and visiting historic Nice and the luxurious Monaco and Monte Carlo.
“Our wedding surpassed my wildest dreams. It was actually better than I imagined it would be. It was magical and filled with excitement, love and laughter. So many people worked so hard to execute my dream wedding, especially my mom who was 100 percent my wedding planner from start to finish. It would not have been what it was without her,” said Raina.
“In addition to an absolutely fantastic and fun wedding, I really enjoyed the rehearsal dinner. It was held at the Wolfgang Puck American Grille at the Borgata, with delicious food and a great atmosphere, including tear jerking speeches which made for a memorable evening. On the morning of the wedding, I never will forget all of the laughs I shared with my groomsmen. With our schedules, who knows when we will all be in the same room together again? It was very special,” said Jack.
Congratulations, and very best wishes, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Pitts!
Erlene Nelson is a very meticulous lady who does everything with flair and grace. When she hosted The Birthday Girls on Sunday in East Falls, Nelson pulled out all the stops! The theme of the luncheon, “Rhapsody in Blues,” was carried out in seamless detail. “Due to the size of the venue, I had to limit my guests list to 20 ladies and there were so many more I wanted to invite,” she explained.
Her beautiful granddaughters, Dr. Melissa Nelson-Perron and Dr. Kibibi Gaughn, with Joy Tate, were hostesses and helped to carry out the program with gracious precision. Each guest received a warm welcome when they arrived and gathered outside the “pagoda.” We were escorted into the dimly lit room to feast our eyes upon elaborate centerpieces with blue accent lights and white gardenias, as George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” played. Nelson, wearing an elegant blue suit with covered buttons, sapphire blue stilettos, and sapphire and diamond jewelry, gave us an enthusiastic welcome! Her vignettes about guests and members throughout the afternoon kept us thoroughly entertained!
In 1978, three friends with similar interests in the arts, theatre, travel and fashion — and who all celebrated birthdays together — decided to form a club called “The Birthday Girls.” The originators of the group were Elaine Coston, Bettie Lawson and the late Bernice Kemp Bell. Other current members are Juanita Amonitti, Bert Asbury, Norvella Benning, Barbara Braxton, Anne Frazier, Carole Williams-Green, Lorraine Brown-Long, Alicia Perkins and Rosemary Valentine.
Guests “Out & About” for a truly memorable afternoon included Nelson’s childhood friend from St. Louis, Mo., Edith Perkins, Sharon Parks, the Rev. Dr. Sadie Mitchell of The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Deborah Johnson, Audrey Lipscomb and Nathania Johnson, who is an administrator with the Philadelphia School District.
True to their mission and passion, the ladies have enjoyed many trips nationally and internationally to enjoy theatre, museums, spas, fashion exhibits and art openings, with each ending with a luncheon or dinner at a special restaurant. The have visited such places as Mexico, the Bahamas, Vienna, Germany, Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris and many cities in the United States.
The theme was derived from the fact the event’s china, crystal and linens were all in shades of blue. The centerpieces were a creative work of art of blue and white flowers, pearls and miniature stilettos, which are the trademark of the hostess. The hostess coordinated each luncheon course with food relating to the name or color blue. The unbelievably beautiful music was painstakingly selected as “blues and jazz” and related to each food course. The colossal lump blue crab appetizer was an introduction to the blues. The salad, featuring star fruit, was a symbol of the midnight dark blue sky. The entrée was a symbol of the ocean, and even the blue mouse dessert was in remembrance of the first lady of the blues, Billie Holiday. Each lady was presented with a beautiful gardenia wristlet to wear while enjoying the final course and listening to blues and jazz classics such as “Blue Gardenia” by Nat King Cole.
I loved the interactive part of the luncheon. Before each course was served, each lady at individual tables received a card bordered in blue with a question she would respond to in a light hearted, humorous manner. After her response, she was presented with a small blue gift bag containing several treats, all in the color blue.
Following each course, members and guests enjoyed a wonderful display with 60 photographs of The Birthday Girls at different activities throughout the years. After the luncheon each lady selected several of the photographs as keepsakes. Finally, everyone joined hands and sang “Happy Birthday.”
Everyone also received a lovely parting gift — a blue organza bag holding a gorgeous blue and gold birthday card together with a DVD of the Diana Ross-starring movie “Lady Sings the Blues,” a separate CD of all three movements of “Rhapsody in Blue,” and other small treats.
Everyone enjoyed this most creative, unusual and delightful luncheon — a breathtakingly beautiful treat with the most delicious and creatively prepared food. The amazing center pieces and wrist corsages were lovingly created by Erlene.
The white gloved servers were David Lipscomb and Rashaan Fuche, nephews of the hostess. Additionally, photographer Jesus Rincon provided some of the beautiful photographs of the luncheon.
The gorgeous personalized invitations, beautiful place settings, stunning centerpieces and each and every element of Erlene Nelson’s style and attention to detail made for a truly incredible experience.
I had a great time at the “First Annual Black Professionals Holiday Party” on Saturday evening. The party took place at The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) in Center City. Earl Harvey, publisher of The Black Professionals News, hosted the hugely successful and enjoyable affair.
“I am overwhelmed by the love and support my guests have shown me tonight. When I started planning the party, so many people told me inviting Black professional organizations to gather together to support each other for business and social networking was a great idea. The turnout tonight proved them right and we have already started planning for next year,” Harvey remarked.
The party was sponsored jointly by The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists — whose current president Sarah J. Glover was in the house — the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society, Shaw University Alumni Association and Anna Bostic, owner of The Body Sanctuary Day Spa.
More than 300 guests enjoyed the ambiance of the museum as they mixed and mingled in the multi-tiered venue. Many of my fellow members of PABJ enjoying the evening included president Shalimar Blakely, Germaine Edwards, Denise Clay, Attiyah Blair, Reese Blair, Ken Scott and Chris Murray.
Guests danced the night away to the sounds of the Tony Day Jazz Band and an incredible performance by Ms. Ella Gahnt. There was also “get up on your feet” music by DJ Stevie D and Damon. The party also featured libations and delicious buffet stations with dishes prepared by Eatible Delights, whose proprietor, David Simms, just catered another amazing holiday party at WURD-AM on Friday, Diane Floyd of Meal Makers, Chef Bernard, Tea Country, Philly’s Platinum Grille and Victoria’s Kitchen.
One of the surprise highlights of the evening was a special tribute to “MJ” Michael Jackson, coordinated by David D. Birts and performed by artist Montray Cherry, wowed the audience with his incredible dance moves and striking resemblance to the King of Pop.
Among those “Out & About” enjoying the festivities were: Rick and Gloria Hawkins, G. Kalomgi Foreman, Dr. Beverly Richards, Twila Slaughter, Judge Doris Smith-Ribner, William Tucker, Mr. and Mrs. Garry Cobb, Sly Barnes and Allegra F. McCullough from Washington D.C., Chef Carl Redding from Atlantic City, N.J., Drew Barrett from New York City, Chuck and Nancy Farthing, Everette Staten, Billy Blue, Jerry Mondesire, Catherine Hicks, Ducky Birts, Blanche Burton Lyles, Phyllis Sims, Kim Boddy, Rob Bell, Michele Lawrence, Roger and Shawn Graham, Gus Lacy, Carl Helm, Doug Henderson, DJ Gary O, Denise Berry, Ellen Conway, Wanda Davis, Michelle Mitchell Day, Eric Norris, Dr. Martin Weaver, Dr. Derrick Graves, Donna Whitehead, Dr. Lenny Lomax, Alfred and Natalie Turner, Rick and Sheila Moses, Arthur J. “Maxamillion” Wells III, Thomas Bacon, Jay Bagley, Cheryl Lee, Wayne Taylor and Shari Williams. Shari, the charming wife of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, displayed some of the awesome items from her luscious new line of beauty products, “Sha Sha Glam.”
It was a fantastic evening and a wonderful way to celebrate the Holiday Season. Congratulations to Earl and all involved.
Merry Christmas to all, from me to you!
Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. received the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter’s highest honor, the Sadie T.M. Alexander Award, on May 20. The 2012 Awards Luncheon program was held at the Philadelphia Hilton Hotel, City Line Avenue and the award was presented by Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter member Cynthia R. Muse.
May Week is a longstanding tradition of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter. It was inaugurated by the first national president of Delta Sigma Theta, Sadie T.M. Alexander, in 1920.
Butler-McIntyre was initiated into the sorority through the Beta Gamma Chapter of Dillard University in 1973 and is currently a member of the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter. She has served Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. with distinction at the local, state, regional and national levels, which has earned her the respect and admiration of the membership. She is lovingly regarded as “A Leader with a Servant’s Heart.”
Cynthia Butler-McIntyre is an educator who currently serves as a director of human resources for the Jefferson Parish Public School System in Harvey, La. She has impacted the lives of countless young people for more than 30 years as a teacher, assistant principal, summer school principal and personnel administrator in her school district. Her professional experience also includes her service as executive director of Tech-Prep Summer Program at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. She has also worked as the assistant coordinator of field experiences and College of Education supervisor for early childhood student teaching experiences for the University of New Orleans.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Dillard University. At the age of 20, Butler-McIntyre earned a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction/educational administration at the University of New Orleans. She is the recipient of an honorary doctorate of divinity degree in religious education from the Louisiana Christian Bible College.
Butler-McIntyre’s distinguished service and outstanding achievements have been recognized by numerous professional, civic and religious organizations on the local, state and national levels. Some of her recognitions include: National Alliance of Black School Educators Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, Shiners Hall of Fame, Women of Substance inductee (Bennett College), Langston University Presidential Award, Dillard University Distinguished Alumnus Award, MLK Outstanding Activist Honoree, YWCA Role Model and Louisiana Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year. Other honors include: Distinguished Woman of Honor, Trailblazer’s Award, Women Who Make A Difference – Women in the Ministry, SHEroes of the Present, Presidential Service Award, Distinguished Public Servant Award, African American Hall of Fame, Who’s Who in American Education, Outstanding Alumnus of a Historically Black College or University, Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Gospel Speaker, Outstanding Young Women of America, Delta of the Year, and 2010 ESSENCE & FFAWN I Inspire Award. Butler-McIntyre has been listed as one of Ebony magazine’s 100 Most Influential Black Americans and Organizations. In 2011, she was appointed to the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation board of trustees by President Barak Obama.
Distinguished officers of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. for the 2010–2012 term are: president, Victoria A. Mosley Rivers; 1st vice president, Maxine C. Harvey; 2nd vice president, Monica Johnson Taylor; 3rd vice president, Yvette D. Styer; recording secretary, Monica Lewis-Wilborn; corresponding secretary, Jacqueline E. Greene; treasurer, Tiffany Wilson and financial secretary, Tanisha Carelock.
Other Highlights of the May Week luncheon program included a warm welcome by mistress of ceremonies Monique Braxton.
Musical selections were performed by the Philadelphia Alumnae Quartet, Janet Gilmore, Elaine Lawrence Green and Dawn Morgan Moore; the Girard Academic Music and Program, Vincent W. Rutland, director, and students Jeremy Garcia, Benjamin McCool, Alexander Palmer, George Squire, Dwayne Williams and Michael Wooten. There were also praise dancers, Rylee Curry, Rachel Holt and Breyony Lindsey and Impact Day essay contest winners Simmone King, Tiffany Thompkins and Macey Williams.
Members Vivian T. Barrett and Rita Mickie presented the 2012–2013 scholarships to Darriell Dinkins, Lenette Foster, Summer Hill, Alexandra Kenner, Brianna Richardson-Jones, Chante Smith, Amber Williams and Ragine Williams.
Fifty-year service awards were presented by Patricia Sawyer, past president and Rita Waters, president, Legacy of Love Foundation, to Francine E. Cheeks, Vannie Culmer, Gloria Gibson Hamilton, Lurline Jones, Elaine Glazier Staton, Jean S. Turk and Marion Taylor. Marian P. Brown presented Twenty-five year awards to Lynne Battle Millard, Patricia Benson and Dawn Carter-Lacey.
President Mosley Rivers offered thanks and closing remarks as yet another proud milestone for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter came to an end.
Congratulations to the honoree, 2011–2012 May Week committee chairs, Valerie Christmas and Jennifer Boyd Waller; committee members: Wanda J. Caviness, Madeline R. Chatman. Viola Curry, Jocelyn P. Geter, Millicent Hartsfield, Maxine C. Harvey, Twanna Mae Hall, Sophia V. Holley, Evelyn C. Johns, Cynthia R. Muse, Patricia M. Sawyer, Marva Lisa Scott, Cara Walker, Rita L. Waters and Sharana Worsley for their outstanding work on this event and commitment to the community.
I extend a very special thank you to Cynthia R. Muse for her public relations assistance.
Thanks to Michael LeVere, vice president and program director of Ye Olde Philadelphia Club (OPC), and his beautiful wife, Hortense, I saw a lot of great friends, danced to fabulous live music by Sandstorm, dined on delicious food and more at one of the club’s most enjoyable annual holiday parties ever. The affair, held at The Springfield Country Club on Dec. 30, was a blast!
Members of the entertainment committee, co-chairs James Potts and Thomas Garrett and members Louis DeVaughn, Charles Bush, Rob Gorgas, Artis Ray and Charles Manns should be praised for doing such a fantastic job and ensuring that these gatherings just get better with time!
Current OPC officers are Preston Taylor, president; Michael LeVere, vice president; Robert Chapman, secretary; Byron Golson, assistant secretary; and William Burke Jr., treasurer.
An invocation by past president Judge John Braxton was given before a delicious sit down dinner. He reminded us of the intergenerational makeup of one of Philadelphia’s oldest existing organizations, which began in 1926.
Radio broadcast journalist E. Stephen Collins, accompanied by his eternally youthful wife, Lisa Duhart-Collins, received a special award from OPC for his continued achievements in his field. Upon his acceptance he pointed out how much he owed to his predecessors. His message to the attendees included encouraging everyone present and everyone they came in contact with to support President Barack Obama.
The membership recognized immediate past president Eugene “Gene” Golson, there with his wife, Marie, and Everett Gillison, chief of staff to City of Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. Gillison was accompanied by his wife Elaine. David Donaldson, there with his wife, Chiquita, was also recognized for diligently serving as the club’s awards committee chair. All individuals were recognized for their outstanding service to Ye Olde Philadelphia Club.
Among the former “first ladies” (wives of past club presidents) included: Josephine Poindexter, Gail Hawkins Bush, Barbara Gorgas, Linda Braxton, Marie Golson and Linda Meade.
Among those “Out & About” enjoying an incredible evening were: Councilwoman Janie Blackwell, her brother and club member Glen Brooks; president/CEO of The American Red Cross Philadelphia Chapter Judge Renee Hughes; Dr. Walter and Patricia Bantom; Betty and Ballard Shelton; Bruce and Lisa Hawkins; Marie and Eugene Golson; Bill and April Rawlings; Linda and Darrel Stephens; Tina and Eric Coombs; (member) broadcast journalist Monique Braxton; and Dr. Reginald Royster; Philadelphia Tribune CFO John Holmes (member) and his wife, Tanya; Margaret Livingston; former City of Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Harold Hairston and his wife, Ann ( Ann, I love your sleek new hairstyle); Dr. Walter P. Harris (member), the ophthalmic surgeon that I entrust with the care of my eyes and his lovely wife, Nicole; David Livingston; Dorothy Sumners Rush; Jewel Mann-Lassiter and Bob Kersey; Frank LeVere; Wanda Poole; John and Marie Connelly; Gus Lacy; Audrey Johnson-Thornton, Rose Chapman, wife of club secretary Robert Chapman; and Joseph Meade who is a past president of the club.
Exquisitely dressed ladies and gentlemen in black tie enjoyed cocktails and butlered hors d’oeuvres, which could have substituted for dinner, were served to guests as they entered the reception room overlooking the brightly decorated landscape of the county club.
The main dining room glistened with the glow of several Christmas trees. Our delicious entre of filet of chicken breast and fresh seasonal vegetables topped off with a raspberry laced cheese cake desert was excellent. It’s a good thing that the Sandstorm Orchestra created a mood that inspired most attendees to their feet to burn off those calories. Many familiar songs were played but, as usual, the line dances encouraged the majority to move to the dance floor. I’m signing up for “Wobble” lessons ASAP.
Thanks to Ye Olde Philadelphia Club for another memorable, enjoyable celebration.
Members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gathered together in the City of Brotherly Love to jointly celebrate their founding during the first month of 2012. The theme of the weekend-long event, “Strengthening the Bond Between Brotherhood and Sisterhood,” was a celebratory inspiration for the organization to begin the new year.
"I am so proud to be a member of this illustrious organization,” said Shante C. Dash, basileus, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Beta Delta Zeta chapter. “Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. share a bond like no other Greek lettered organization in that we are the only to be constitutionally bound sisters and brothers. It only seemed befitting that the first Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Joint Founders' Day Celebration take place in Philadelphia, our city of brotherly love and sisterly affection! It was great to celebrate a weekend observance by providing community outreach, celebrating with a brunch and to pay our respect to our honorable founder Arizona C. Stemons, a long time resident of this city,"
The celebration began with an event, which represented their founding principle of community service. The organizations joined together on the first evening in partnership with Chosen 300 Ministries and unselfishly served nutritious meals to local Philadelphia residents. This took place in the city’s Spring Garden neighborhood.
The next day featured a brunch at the Embassy Suites Hotel in South Philadelphia. “The program highlighted the talent within the organizations and thanked all members for their time and commitment that they give to ensure that the organizations remain at the forefront in combating the social ills which plague our community,” said Derek Bowmer, state director of Phi Beta Sigma. Special recognition was given to Geraldine Kinney for 63 years of service to Zeta Phi Beta. and Terrance Sistrunk for his dedication and commitment to Phi Beta Sigma. The highlight of the brunch was a special ceremony where the organizations recommitted themselves to their special bond of being the only constitutionally bound brother and sister organization.
The weekend culminated in Philadelphia with a memorial service at the gravesite of Arizona Cleaver Stemons, one of the founders of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and a former resident of the Philadelphia area. Congratulations to Derek Bowmer, Pennsylvania state director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Siéta Achampong, Pennsylvania state director of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority on this momentous occasion.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. was founded on the campus of Howard University on Jan. 9, 1914, by A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse and Charles I. Brown. The men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, under the leadership of its state director Derek Bowmer, have graduate and undergraduate chapters that service the Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia communities.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. was founded on the campus of Howard University on Jan. 16, 1920, by Arizona Cleaver Stemons, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, Fannie Pettie Watts and Pearl A. Neal as the sister organization to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. The ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., under the leadership of their state director Siéta Achampong, have graduate and undergraduate chapters, which serve communities in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Norristown, and Delaware, Chester and Montgomerycounties.
Congratulations and best wishes to members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. I extend special thanks to Dana M. Moore first vice president, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Philadelphia Graduate Chapter for her assistance.
Natalie Marshall was elegant as she was escorted down the aisle by her father, Pluria W. Marshall Sr. The bride, wearing a beautiful white tulle and organza ball gown with a beaded lace bodice and vertical ruffles, was married to Omari Hughes in a morning ceremony at The Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia on Nov. 12, 2011. The Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson officiated at the wedding and the bride’s mother, the Rev. Carmen C. Marshall, performed the prayer and served communion.
Natalie, 24, is a 2009 graduate of Hampton University and will earn her Master’s of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in May. Her parents are Mr. and Mrs. Pluria and Carmen Marshall. Natalie’s surviving grandparents are Dr. James D. Corbin of Tallahassee, Fla., and Mrs. Earlene B. Corbin of Kinder, La.
Omari, 27, also earned an undergraduate degree from Hampton University in 2006. The young couple met while in graduate school at Princeton and Omari will also earn his master’s of divinity with his wife in May 2012. Omari’s parents: Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Cheryll Hughes and his surviving grandparent, Vernette Brown, reside in Williamsburg, Va.
The Proposal … in the Bride’s Words
Natalie recalls with a bright smile, “The proposal was a total surprise. My parents were going to Rehoboth Beach and we asked if we could tag along. It was March 18, 2011, the one day in March the temperature reached 70 degrees. Omari told my parents that we wanted to go to the beach before the sun set. So we dropped them off in somewhat of a hurry. When we reached the boardwalk Omari told me to wait on the boardwalk while he used the restroom. The next thing I knew, about three minutes later, I heard him calling me from the beach. I thought to myself, ‘I thought he had to use the restroom?’ He called me over and told me he found a crab in the sand he wanted to show me. I reluctantly walked over and was nervous about this creature he wanted to show me. He reached in the sand, deep down, appearing to struggle a bit and out comes a ring box. It was the perfect day, 70 degrees in March on the beach at sunset.”
The Bridal Party
Natalie’s maid of honor, Danielle Haley, wore a lovely one shoulder chiffon dress in the shade of an African violet. The groom and best man, Rashid Hughes (Omari’s brother), wore traditional tuxedos. The beautiful flower girls were Laila and Lena Johnson. Handsome ring bearers were Joshua Corbin and Jason Marshall Jr.
A joyous reception was held at Green Valley Country Club. The room was abundant with fragrant purple and white roses and lilies and other flowers of that hue. The first song danced to the newly married couple was Anthony Hamilton’s “The Point of It All.” Omari and his mother danced to “Momma” by Boys II Men. Natalie and her father danced to “Daddy” by Beyoncé. The bride’s coveted bouquet was caught by Laila Johnson, our flower girl who is also the pastor’s daughter.
Reflections of the Special Day
“We could not have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and all those involved were excited and cooperative. There was no drama. We were late for the ceremony because of traffic, but God had a plan. We had praise and worship during the beginning of the service and the worship leader played until we arrived. After the wedding we received several calls from family and friends telling us that they were so blessed by the worship and it set the atmosphere for the ceremony. What we thought might be an inconvenience ended up being a time for our guests to commune with God. Being that neither of us is from Philadelphia it was a blessing to have our family travel from all over the country and beyond: Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Canada,” Natalie shared.
Natalie recalls that one of the most special things about the wedding planning was how involved Omari was with the details of the wedding. He was very particular, but in a helpful way. The couple had the most fun at the food tastings. In the tradition of a true southerner, Omari made sure that all of the food was nothing short of exceptional for their friends and family.
“We simply had a wonderful time and consider our wedding to have been such a blessing. It was especially meaningful to have so many family members travel so far and we are very appreciative of all that our immediate family did to make this such a special day. It was also a blessing to have our church family involved. It was such a wonderful time,” Natalie added.
Natalie and Omari cruised to the Bahamas and describe the experience as, “absolutely wonderful and tons of fun in the sun. We are two beach babies and in every location and on every island, we spent all of our time on the beach.” The couple had a blast!
Congratulations and very best wishes for a lasting marriage and a very bright future to Mr. and Mrs. Omari Hughes!
Audrey R. Johnson-Thornton, president and founder of the American Women’s Heritage Society, (AWHS) is a passionate and dedicated leader. “Twenty-five years ago, a group of African-American women forged an alliance to protect and preserve the Belmont Mansion, a site with significant relevance to the history of Philadelphia and its African-American legacy. This has been a journey of love and discovery, as we learned more about the Mansion, its role in American history and as a Freedom Station on the Underground Railroad leading American slaves to freedom,” the fashionable and energetic Johnson-Thornton said.
The gala honored the Society’s work to restore and preserve Fairmount Park’s historic Belmont Mansion and the many people who have supported those efforts. The anniversary celebration kicked off a $2.5 million capital campaign to create an endowment that will assure continued maintenance and improvements to the Belmont Mansion for decades to come. The American Women’s Heritage Society, founded in 1986, is leading efforts to restore and maintain Belmont Mansion, one of the most historic buildings in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.
Despite the drenching rain, hundreds of supporters came out to celebrate The American Women’s Heritage Society (AWHS) 25th Anniversary gala at the Historic Belmont Mansion on Friday evening. Former Governor Ed Rendell, former Mayor John F. Street, former Mayor the Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode Sr., Mayor Michael Nutter and state Sen. LeAnna Washington were honorary co-chairs of the event and were recognized. Dignitaries spotted at the gala were U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady and state Sen. Vanessa Brown.
The Rev. Dr. Goode, senior fellow and national director of Amachi said, “This event was a tribute to a group of Black women led by by Audrey Johnson-Thornton who dared to dream that a broken down building could become a museum that honored those who aided slaves in their flight to freedom. It also underscores that nothing great was ever achieved without a struggle.” He accompanied his wife and former first lady of the City of Philadelphia Velma Goode.
Dyana Williams of WRNB Radio and Lori Williams of NBC 10 did a great job as the evening’s mistresses of ceremony and co-hosts. Poet, scholar and activist Sonia Sanchez and Tanya Hall, executive director of the Multicultural Affairs Congress, were recipients of special awards. Toni Nash presented the award to Tanya Hall and both awardees made gracious remarks and expressed their gratitude.
There were many special touches that made this a memorable and enjoyable evening. Guests were welcomed by the rhythmic West African drum beat of Diabate Cultural and Performing Arts. Acting as hostesses, students from The Docent Training Program were dressed in period costume in keeping with the historical element of the evening. Miss Black Pennsylvania 2011, Jillian Patricia Pritle, performed an inspirational solo, and guests were also entertained by Warren Oree-Appreggio Jazz Ensemble, Musical Legacy.
The food was delicious and I asked Jewel Mann-Lassiter, president of Tuxedo Catering, about her involvement in helping to make the evening a success. “Audrey asked if I would chair the dinner committee and planning events is a big part of what I’ve done for years. She knew that the menu and dinner would play a major role in this event. My responsibilities included meeting with all caterers and planning a classic menu. Her plan was for me to contact a list of local caterers she recommended to donate their time, services and menu selections for the anniversary event. Each of seven caterers prepared one dish from the menu. Tuxedo prepared butlered hors d’oeuvres for the VIP reception and an entrée for the dinner menu. All of the participants did an incredible job. I was honored to work with all of them,” Mann-Lassiter said. Congratulations, best wishes and continued success are wished to Audrey Johnson-Thorton and all involved!
Have a fantastic week “Out & About” in Philadelphia, everyone!
Congratulations to The Philadelphia Chapter of the Links Inc. for hosting a hugely successful fundraising event. It took place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sept. 25. Chapter president Sherilynn Johnson Kimble said in her message, “As the founding chapter of the Links Inc., the Philadelphia Chapter is very proud of our ongoing commitment to community service which centers on promoting and engaging in educational, civic and inter-cultural activities in order to enrich the lives of members of our community.” Funds raised by the event will support a broad range of programs which enhance the quality of life in our community.
Special acknowledgement was given to corporate sponsors, The Lomax Family Foundation and Pennsylvania’s only African American-owned radio station, WURD 900-AM and PECO Exelon Company.
The selection of the 2011 honorees was focused on the arts. The honorees were Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and musical director of The Black Pearl Music Chamber Orchestra; Faith Ringgold, internationally renowned artist and author and Jill Scott, Grammy Award-winning singer, composer and actress.
All of the accomplished awardees, who were presented with beautiful sculptures, expressed their gratitude for being recognized by the organization. Jill Scott, who is on tour in Europe, was represented by her mother, Joyce Scott. In accepting her daughter’s award she shared that she exposed Jill to arts and culture at a very young age. Scott also noted her daughter’s tireless work on the Blues Babe Foundation, which Jill established in Philadelphia to assist financially struggling, but motivated students. Joyce Scott’s parting words, “Black can grow out of concrete,” left a lasting impression from a proud and loving mother.
The audience was treated to a wonderful performance on the viola by Christine Taylor, a student from The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. Six-year-old Alphonso “A.J.” Evans Jr. read a passage from Faith Ringgold’s upcoming book about renowned artist Henry O. Tanner, “His Boyhood Dream Come True.” Alphonso, who dreams of being the world’s greatest singer, attends Gesu School. The Urban Guerilla Band rocked the crowd with an amazing rendition of Jill Scott’s chart topping “Golden.”
Links who presented awards were Renetta Ethridge Holloway, Carol Clark Lawrence, Brenda Johnson Best, Margaret A. Wright, Zakiya T. Black and Rosalyn J. McPherson.
“I am thrilled that our chapter chose to honor three incredible women who are celebrated internationally and identified in Philadelphia as cultural pioneers and legends and continue to contribute to our vibrant art and music landscape,” chapter immediate past president Carol Clark Lawrence said.
Other officers of the Philadelphia Chapter are: Stephanie Watkins, Brenda Johnson Best, Mahlene Duckett Lee, Catherine F. Broach, Deidre L. Patterson and Margaret A. Wright. Mahlene Duckett Lee and Margaret A. Wright also did an incredible job as this year’s event as chairwoman and co-chairwoman respectively. The meticulous planning and hard work that went into this signature event was apparent.
More than 800 guests and Links from as far south as Georgia and all along the East Coast gathered for dinner and dancing to the fantastic music of the Urban Guerrilla Orchestra. The support of other Links Inc. chapters was phenomenal!
Founded in 1946 by two prominent Philadelphians, Margaret R. Hawkins and Sarah S. Scott, The Links Inc. is an international non-profit corporation which currently has a membership of 12,000 professional women of color in 274 chapters located in 42 states, The District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The vision of these two women to recognize and exercise community service and outreach has grown and flourished throughout the years.
Links Inc. founder Margaret R. Hawkins was well represented by her family at the event. Family members in attendance included her son, Dr. Frederick C. Hawkins Jr., and his wife, Sharon Hawkins, son Bruce R. Hawkins, and Philadelphia chapter member Lisa Hawkins, granddaughter Melanie Hawkins Tudos and husband Redmond Tudos.
Congratulations to “Smooth Sounds in the Afternoon” committee members: Catherine Manning Adams, Zakiya T. Black, Mariska K. Bogle, Stephanie Mays Boyd, Julie Cocker, Kelly D. Davis, Renetta Ethridge Holloway, Mellanie Kai Lassiter, Gina Golson Nunnery, Donna Roderick and Betty Jane Shelton and Frances Jones. I extend special thanks to Frances Jones for her public relations assistance in addition to Betty Shelton and Mariska Bogle. Sheinelle Ojeh also did a great job as the evening’s auctioneer. Best wishes to all members of the Philadelphia Links, Inc. for hosting this stellar event and contributing so much to our community!