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Local sorority prioritizes service throughout pandemic

LAPLACE — To everyone else, January 2020 was the start of a new decade. To the finer members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Jan. 16, 2020 was the Centennial of the Sorority, designating 100 years of Service, Scholarship, Sisterhood and Finer Womanhood.

The International Centennial of the Sorority was celebrated on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where the sorority was founded. And then COVID-19 hit the country. However, the virus did not deter the members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., from providing community service.

This 2020 year has been a little different and challenging for many, including organizations. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Upsilon Mu Zeta chose to pivot and continue moving forward using current technology such as ZOOM to conduct installation of new officers to continue leading the chapter from July 2020-June 2022. The new leadership was installed virtually on June 18, 2020 at the June monthly meeting.

The current leadership for Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter has continued to be involved in one of the sorority’s principles -“Service”. One of the national projects for the sorority is “Get Engaged”, and Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter members gathered on Sept. 26, 2020 to conduct a Voter’s Registration Drive on the East Bank of St. Charles Parish in the Charlestown community. To support this project in an area of St. Charles Parish that has a low turnout of voters, Parish President Matthew Jewel and Councilwoman Marilyn Bellock, District 5 joined the members of Upsilon Mu Zeta at the Voter’s Registration Drive. In addition to completing registration forms, members distributed facemasks in the Charleston community as a way to let everyone know their health and safety are important to Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter in this time of a pandemic.

The members of the Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter are still community conscious even during the pandemic. On Nov. 20, 2020, members of the chapter visited (practicing social distancing) Fifth Ward Elementary School, where 45 school uniforms were donated. On that same day, the members also visited the Luling Living Center, where a monetary donation was provided for the residents’ Thanksgiving Dinner. Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter has supported the “Adopt A School” program for 10 years and the Elder Care program for six years. The chapter supports several projects through the Zetas Helping Other People Excel (ZHOPE) initiatives including March for Babies, scholarships, volunteering in the community, and one of the recent projects, the Domestic Violence Awareness Program Initiative.

To spread holiday cheer, the sorority sponsored Fifth Ward Elementary School students to color Christmas themed coloring sheets for the residents of Luling Living Center. Coloring sheets were delivered to the center’s activity coordinator in an effort to bring holiday joy to each resident. The coloring sheets adorn each resident’s door.

This year the chapter celebrated its 15th anniversary year of Building on the Principles of Zeta While Blazing New Paths. Chartered by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. International President on October 22, 2005, in LaPlace, Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter has made numerous lasting community service footprints in the River Parishes.

As 2020 draws to a close, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. created several firsts. In October 2020, Zeta conducted the first Virtual International Boule’ (international convention) due to COVID-19. The members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated continued to celebrate important milestones for the rest of the calendar year. Zeta accepted Macy’s special invitation to celebrate Zeta’s 100th anniversary as a featured guest for “The Longest Running Show On Broadway”. On Nov. 26, 2020, Zeta made history as the first historically black Greek lettered organization to step in the world-renowned Thanksgiving tradition.

The local chapter, Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter, is led by Belinda W. Rodgers, president. Meetings are the first Thursday of each month. Due to COVID-19, meetings are held virtually via Zoom.  Upsilon Mu Zeta Chapter can be contacted by sending a message to  UpsilonMuZeta@gmail.com.