Sorority Sisters Give Back to Community
By Dianne Anderson
Dozens of dedicated professional sisters of the Orange County Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta are helping local kids and adults prepare for success with just about whatever skill-set they need to get ahead.
There is no shortage of role models at the historically Black Greek sorority.
“We have lawyers, and judges and doctors and politicians, mathematicians and history teachers, counselors. We have some of almost everything,” said Rev. Thompson, the organization’s chair, chaplain and past president.
This year, the Deltas are also bringing a number of their own ongoing programs out to the wider community, expanding collaborations with nonprofits to implement programs more broadly.
Thompson said they want to meet local youth wherever they are at.
Working together is important, especially as African Americans in the community have significantly declined, or are becoming more spread out countywide. The goal is reaching more Black youth with more services.
“We’re always kind of pulling at the same people, but we realize, the Deltas and other community organizations can work together,” she said. “We all have unique skills that we can pair together to come up with a better program.”
On Friday, April 26, the chapter is holding their annual fundraiser at The Clubhouse at Anaheim Hills Golf Course, located at 6501 E. Nohl Ranch Road. Tickets are $100, and will not be sold at the door.
Frequently, the Deltas partner and speak at local events to inspire and encourage students to be their best. The sorority has given out over a quarter million dollars in scholarships over the past four decades.
She said they emphasize that students start with small consistent steps up the academic or professional ladder, which can be a steep climb.
“We show them the pathway to success,” she said. “We try to give them tools to help them do that. We talk about social skills, workplace skills, financial, school and test-taking skills.”
Local teens and youth have issues that run both ends of the spectrum. Some youth still live with mom and dad, and seem to have a good handle on their future. Others need an extra boost of self-esteem, or may not be clear on which direction they’re headed.
And, they may not be taking full advantage of all the great technology at their fingertips.
“We get youth that don’t have self-confidence, or even though they’re on the internet 24/7, they’re not looking at things to help them understand,” she said.
Upcoming, she is excited to lead a financial literacy class at UCI, which is already filled to capacity.
Getting the community familiar with money management is a big concern for all of the Delta chapters. At the most basic level, she said many people, youth or adults, do not understand how to stay on top of a simple bank account. Other issues the organization addresses is how to avoid college debt, or start thinking about retirement, which may be challenging for teens.
But it is one of the best times to get their young minds primed.
“You have to understand what’s behind finances,” said Thompson, who has a background in math. “Because everything is so instant, they don’t think about having to plan for their retirement.”
During election season, the Deltas also hold workshops to get voters familiar with what’s on the ballot. It’s almost a given that voters contend with confusing ballot language on propositions, and lack access to obscure information, such as candidate judges and justices.
Health workshops are another priority with the organization, including breast cancer awareness, HIV risk and impact that are also a big part of their outreach.
“We have a big physical and mental health component, things you need to do for yourself to keep healthy, and advocating for those who may not have any help. We’re always a part of making strides with Susan G. Komen every year,” she said.
Through several projects, the Deltas go out to talk to middle and high schoolers about their personal careers, and nuances of how they made it. Probably the most exciting aspect for the kids is just seeing professionals who look like them.
Students are grateful. Some return as adults just to say thanks, or they receive letters from those who have gone on to college. Some want to volunteer or join up, but she said that’s not the driver for why the sisters do what they do.
The hope is to create change that can reverberate through the community.
“If we can’t give the youth the values, principles, the understanding and the concern for the community that we have now, we won’t last,” she said. “The goal is to put in the effort and sow into the youth.”
For more fundraiser information, see www.orangecountydst.com