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Service, Scholarship & Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta gives back to River Parishes

LAPLACE — Delta Sigma Theta sisterhood is for life, according to River Parishes alumnae who use their sorority to promote service and scholarship.

More than 50 active members across St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes clad in signature “crimson and cream” colors volunteer year-round at events geared toward all ages, from preschoolers to the elderly.

Sorority member Cynthia Mitchell said Delta Sigma Theta services help fill a void.

“The parish has programs and all kinds of services, but a lot of times, you need workers for those events,” Mitchell said. “It’s not always about coming up with the ideas. It’s about doing it. Once you start assisting, people recognize it and start calling you for help.”

Member Doris Poindexter said the River Parishes chapter, chartered in 2013, puts a local spin on the Delta Sigma Theta’s national thrusts.

Educational development is achieved through interaction with local schools.

Mary Carpenter reads to students at Gramercy Elementary.

According to Mitchell, alumnae visit daycares dressed as Dr. Seuss characters to read to children. Members donate books to the youngest students, while older students are eligible for scholarship opportunities.

“Each year, we award $750 scholarships to three students in St. James, St. John and St. Charles parishes,” Mitchell said. “We award it to one student in each of those parishes, and the application is available on our website.”

2019 scholarship recipients must be graduating seniors with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale who are involved in community service, according to Mitchell.

Other upcoming educational events include a Historically Black Colleges and Universities expo from 8 a.m. to noon March 16 at First Antioch Baptist Church in Lutcher. The event is intended to connect high school students to higher education.

A “Girl’s Talk” for females ages 12 to 17 takes place from noon to 6 p.m. April 13 at River Parishes Community College in Reserve, augmenting Delta Sigma Theta’s educational reach and promoting physical and mental health.

Constance Woods and Crystal Thomas have fun at the Founders Day Brunch.

Girls ages 11 to 14 are invited to Delta Sigma Theta’s Shabazz Academy, which runs from March through June to enhance STEM education with extracurricular computer training, self esteem and etiquette workshops, college exposure and field trips for science experiments and cultural events.

A parent orientation will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. March 23 at the Lutcher Library.

Health is one of Delta Sigma Theta’s primary focuses, Mitchell said.

Each year, members serve seniors at the St. John Sheriff’s Office Thanksgiving Luncheon, celebrate birthdays at Twin Oaks Nursing Home, host food drives and band together for the Go Red for Diabetes Heart Healthy Walk.

The sorority has also taken a stand against HIV/AIDS in the River Parishes by volunteering for National AIDS day and free testing opportunities.

Poindexter finds the most fulfillment in servicing seniors.

“We work with the Council on Aging to teach the seniors money smarts,” Poindexter said. “Some people don’t realize those citizens are kind of forgotten. It’s good to go and do something for them, and they are so thankful.”

Other activities include volunteering for health fairs, collecting donations for Toys for Tots and encouraging voter registration on election years.

New membership opportunities are limited, Mitchell said, though a line approved by the national office in 2018 added Parish President Natalie Robottom to the group.

A recent Founder’s Day brunch at Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace celebrated some of the oldest Delta Sigma Theta members in the River Parishes, including Veronica Alexander and Mary Carpenter, who joined the sorority 50 years ago in college.

Herbrena Godfrey was recognized for 25 years of membership.

The event featured a keynote speech from Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish.

For more information, visit RiverParishesAlumnae on Facebook or rpacdst.com.

Stacy Harding, Keondra Washington, Ingrid Brass, Sharonda Baham, Cherie Johnson and Constance Woods surround 2018 inductee Natalie Robottom.