(standing left to right Elizabeth M. Pindle, Geneva Harper Puryear, Mary Bullock Kidd, Lenora P. Williams, Josephine Brown Dutton, Jeanette Harrison Anderson; seated left to right Lena R. Perry Martin, Louise B. Davis, Maudestine D. Manning, Lillian P. Smith (in the middle in front of flowers is Marguerite Adams former South-Atlantic Regional Director) Doris Orr, Julia Mason Moses, Lois Taylor not pictured are Anne Cooke, Margaret Gillespie Cooper, Sadie Harvey)
On March 25, 1944, a group of Alpha Kappa Alpha women were given the approval to form a new chapter in the oldest Black Letter Sorority. The chartering was held at the home of Elizabeth Pindle, on the campus of Hampton Institute and Marguerite M. Adams, South Atlantic Regional Director, was in charge. Chartering members of this chapter were Jeanette Anderson, Anne Cooke, Margaret Cooper, Louise B. Davis, Josephine Dutton, Sadie Harvey, Mary Kidd, Maudestine Manning, Lena Martin, Julia Moses, Doris Orr, Elizabeth Pindle, Pauline Puryear, Lillian Smith, Lois Taylor, and Lenora Williams.These ladies became the dynamic sixteen who had the vision and fortitude to challenge the status quo in educational, social, cultural, economic and human relations to make a vast difference in the mid-forties based on the times.
The first Founders’ Day was observed on January 14, 1945 at Queen Street Baptist Church and following the observance, a formal tea was held at the home of Lillian Smith. Based on the National Focus at that time, a political interest ensued with the chapter becoming immersed in the “Pay Your Poll Tax” Campaign, and workshops in voting, registration and citizenship. The chapter also made many contributions to local community enterprises to enhance educational and welfare projects in the community such as: the King Street and Hart/McAllister Community Centers, the Hampton Civic League and recreational facilities. Awarding scholarships to young women graduating from the local high school and showing college aspirations began then and continues to be one of our viable endeavors today. The first scholarship was awarded to Jessie Lively Nottingham, a graduate of Phenix High School and later a graduate of Hampton Institute. She served as President of Gamma Upsilon Omega from 1989-1990.
Our chapter has continued to be visible in the community in many ways and we are proud of our participation in the following programs of service: Voter Registration, Hot Lunch Programs (Meals on Wheels), AKA STAR SEARCH, IVY AKADEMY (1993), IVY Reading AKAdemy, Scholarship Recognitions, Veteran’s Programs (Kecoughtan VA Hospital), PIMS (Partnership in Math and Science), Young Author’s Competition, Rest Haven Seniors Project, Senior Health Fairs, Adopt-A-Family, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Youth Talent Showcase (collaboration with Lambda Omega Chapter), Diamond Life Member of Hampton Branch of NAACP, Census Symposium, distribution of Thanksgiving Baskets, Relay for Life, EAF, Miss AKArama Pageants, Kaleidoscope of Fashions, Boys to Men Program, joint and separate Founder’s Day Observances, Adopt-a-Highway, Sisterly Relations with Gamma Theta, Leadership Development Workshops/Panel Discussions, Walk for Diabetes, Global Poverty Food Drives, Black Dollar Day Project, yearly visits to State Legislative Day in Richmond, and visits to local meetings of elected officials in Hampton and City Council Meetings.
Gamma Upsilon Omega members strive for excellence in providing Hampton with service, opportunities and partnerships. The Chapter has been rewarded handsomely for the leadership members have provided. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Awards include: the Graduate Achievement Award; the Doris R. Asbury One to One Award; the Outstanding Graduate Chapter Program Award; the Leah Kay Frazier Award; the Clara M. Hines “Humanitarian and Caring Soror” Award; the Wanza Bagnell Webb Award; the Marguerite Adams Award; the Graduate Leadership Award; the Helen Cauthorne Award; the Eula Edmonds Glover Award; the Annie L. Harvey Award; the Pauline C. Morton Award; the Margaret B. Moss Award; the Evelyn R. Syphax Creative Expression Award and the Susie Vick Perry annual award to the Outstanding Graduate Advisor. At the international level, Christine Darden received the Founders’ Graduate Service Award at the 1988 International Convention which was held in Los Angeles, California. The chapter received the Daimler Chrysler Award for its Ivy Reading AKAdemy Program at the International Convention in Orlando, Florida.
From the dynamic sixteen chartering members, Gamma Upsilon Omega has grown to 103 members in 2015 and continues to make significant impact on many levels. This is a tremendous testament to the sixteen women that had a vision and paved the way for creating a dynamic Chapter determined to serve the Hampton community. We will forever cherish our Diamond Member, (75+ years of service to Alpha Kappa Alpha), Margaret Smith, who passed at age 102. Currently, the Chapter is also honored to count 30 life members, 9 Golden Members, 37 Silver Stars and 12 former chapter presidents as a part of the membership. Our chapter members have held diverse positions in education, at the public school and college levels, in city government on local, state and national boards and commissions and on regional and national committees of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. We are proud to have our own Mamie E. Locke, member of the Virginia Senate, in our chapter today.
Gamma Upsilon Omega continues to mentor members of Gamma Theta Chapter at Hampton University. Our Undergraduate Committee meets with these young ladies to create opportunities for them to develop meaningful campus and community projects.On June 23, 2005, Gamma Upsilon Omega Chapter established the non-profit Ivy Foundation of Hampton, Inc. which funds educational, charitable and programmatic activities including Scholarships, the Arts, Health, Education, Economics and the Family. Since 1944, Gamma Upsilon Omega has been committed to perpetuating the National Goals of our organization and will continue to be dedicated to making a difference in our society. Gamma Upsilon Omega is excited to continue the journey and accept the great mission to Launch New Dimensions of Service 2014-2018.