Seated (L-R): Bernice Brightwell, Regional Director Lucille Wilkins, Louise William Brown.
Standing (L-R): Carrie Alice Pope, Marie Mack-Rivers, Mary Grace Thomas, Annetta Parmer Chavis, Marion Davis, Helen Hite, Clara Smith,
1949: A Vintage Year
This illustrious year not only birthed Epsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter into East Central Illinois, it also gave the community thirteen, dynamic women. On April 9, 1949, Gamma—the "mixed" chapter—became Gamma, the undergraduate chapter, and Epsilon Epsilon Omega, the graduate chapter. Our thirteen charter members were determined to perpetuate "Service to All Mankind," the credo of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Since that eventful day, Epsilon Epsilon Omega continues to grow. In 2000, our membership reached thirty sorors. The most recent membership intake process was in November 2014. Nine women were initiated during that intake.
Our sorors believe that programs should be geared to meet the needs of our community, and contour the sorority’s international programs to fit. In the early days of Epsilon Epsilon Omega’s inception, sorors met in each other’s homes and at the Gamma House to conduct the business of the sorority and to plan activities that would accomplish chapter programs. In more recent times, sorors have conducted Executive Committee and Chapter meetings at the Douglass Library, University of Illinois, the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club and the Danville Public Library. Other committee meetings are still held in sorors’ homes.
Through the years, the Epsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter maintains her presence in the East Central Illinois community by sponsoring activities, by hosting scholarship event fundraisers and by supporting other Greek, and non-Greek, organizations. Currently, her reach extends to Rantoul, Champaign, Urbana, Savoy and Danville. Presently, Epsilon Epsilon Omega advises Gamma Chapter.
THE SALAD BOWL
The Salad Bowl began in 1966, as one of our Chapter’s smaller fundraisers. Sorors made the salads and this dressy affair was designed to be an annual summer community-social activity. For fifteen years, on a Sunday afternoon in July, it was held on the front lawn of Soror Maudie Edward’s home. Pink tablecloths covered each table, with a large AKA umbrella hoisted over the center table. Many people in the community attended and for several years; many sorors attending summer school at the U of I were guests. In the early eighties, the Salad Bowl was moved to Douglass Center. It was expanded to include a fashion show, with clothing donated by local stores.
SCHOLARSHIP DINNER DANCE
This major fundraiser, used to give scholarships to local, graduating African-American juniors and seniors, was first held in the early sixties. In the past, our Chapter made a commitment to give scholarships to at least four graduating high school young ladies each year. In more recent years, we have made a commitment to give out as many scholarships as possible.
In 2000, our Chapter adopted the theme, “Pink Panache.” This would become our largest, annual scholarship fundraising event. The theme has allowed our event to take on many forms: dance, art auction, silent auction and a book reading/signing. This special event has allowed the Epsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter to give more substantially through a larger number of scholarships.
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL (RIF)
Epsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter receives a grant each year to help fund the RIF program. RIF is the largest children's literacy non-profit in the United States. Through our Chapter, children’s books are distributed to places in our community such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Douglass Branch Library, the Douglass Center and area churches. Through this program, thousands of books are given to area youth. In 2015, our Chapter celebrated 35 years with RIF by hosting a "read-in" at the Boys and Girls Club. The 40th Anniversary of RIF in 2020 has been postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19.
In 2001, Epsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter adopted a community program called FAACES. It is a mentoring program for African-American, female high school students.
Epsilon Epsilon Omega has hosted two Central Regional Conferences in Champaign, Illinois—one in 1951 and again in 1985. Epsilon Epsilon Omega members who worked on the 51st Central Regional Conference in 1985 with Central Regional Director Mabel Evans Cason were: 51st Central Regional Conference Chairman, Patricia McKinney Lewis, Host Chapter President, Hester Suggs and Registration Chairman, Maudie Edwards. Epsilon Epsilon Omega co-hosted the 2001 and 2007 Central Regional Conferences in Springfield, IL.