This past Valentine’s Day, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Zeta Chapter, held an event known as “Valentine Sheroes,” in which the chapter honored single mothers.
The event was presented by Gwendolyn Bush, the chapter’s graduate advisor. The event is a component of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s goal to participate in a service called the Helping Hands Initiative. Through this organization, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha focus on assisting survivors of traumatic events, senior citizens, youth deemed at risk, homelessness and single mothers.
“When looking at all the initiatives, I wanted to help them come up with the idea that we could have a national impact,” said Bush. “It will transcend beyond Albion, but at the same time, provide them with a platform and a group of people they could provide service to without having to go out too far from the campus.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha partnered with a multitude of other organizations to put on the event, including the Albion Housing Commission, local merchants, Delta Psi Omega Chapter, WayDan Consulting Services and Empire for the Youth (EFTY). All of these organizations came together to help Alpha Kappa Alpha award single mother Brittany Brooks with flowers, chocolates and a spa day. The gift sponsors included Anna’s House of Flowers, WayDan Consulting Services, and EFTY.
While this is the chapter’s first national event, it is not their first event since their initiation in November of 2020. Despite only being recently initiated, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha have had at least twelve different events. These events include watch parties, Pink Goes Red, Founder’s Day, Stepping into a Healthy Lifestyle, an Ugly Sweater themed Virtual Game Night, Yoga Night and a virtual week of gratefulness with different activities called “Skee-Week”.
“As their graduate advisor, you can only imagine how proud of them I am,” said Bush, “They’ve only been in the sorority for three months, and look at all the events they have done already.”
The Valentine’s Sheroes event highlights some of the five targets of service that Alpha Kappa Alpha strives to meet each year: Women’s health and wellness as well as global impact.
Lucretia Woods, a senior from Chicago and the current president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Zeta Chapter, said that one of the biggest rewards from this event was getting the opportunity to help the surrounding community, specifically making a single mother feel appreciated.
“Most of the time, [single mothers] aren’t as appreciated as they should be,” said Woods. “This event is allowing us to make a woman feel very special even for a single day after doing so much throughout the year.”
Morgan Armstrong, a senior from Albion and Vice President of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said she also shares this sentiment, especially during these trying times.
“Any extra compassion you can show someone is really significant,” said Armstrong. “For us to be able to do it to somebody who is not normally appreciated, it makes me really happy that I am able to do that for someone.”
Bush also spoke about the underappreciation of single mothers, having experienced the stigmatization as both the child of a single mother and a single mother herself.
After losing her father at just one year old, Bush’s mother became a single parent to six children. Growing up, Bush would hear how her mother was ridiculed by others who did not understand that being a single mother was not her own doing. When she had children herself, she too ended up a single mother.
“People don’t know the plight, or the backstory or the history of how that person became a single mom,” said Bush. “The event was very impactful and important for me with the help of these women.”
Despite the success of the event, the chapter faced its own set of difficulties in the process of setting it up. Armstrong mentioned that one of the challenges with setting this event up was the need to think outside the box in order to make an event like this safe and within guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In terms of challenges, thinking outside the box, and making sure that it is safe, and we’re following guidelines so that everyone is staying healthy [was one of the challenges],” said Armstrong.
Layla Wilks, a senior from Chicago and the membership and finance chair for the Sigma Zeta Chapter said those not involved with Alpha Kappa Alpha can get more involved in affiliated events through the use of social media to share information of their events as well as walking up to them on campus and asking them about what they can do to help.
“The easiest way for things to get around is social media,” said Wilks, “But also talking with your groups. If you’re in a frat, tell your frat brothers [about our events], or in an umbrella group.”
Amir Honeywood, a sophomore from Kalamazoo, also pointed to Alpha Kappa Alpha’s corporate website for more information on how students can get involved with chapter and the organization as a whole.
“In addition to all those other methods, we also have a corporate website, aka1908.com,” said Honeywood.
LaRhonda Richardson, a senior from Lathrup Village and the treasurer and social media manager for Sigma Zeta chapter, agreed with the statements made by Wilks and Honeywood.
“Just spreading the word and coming out to our events helps,” said Richardson. “We’re excited to be back and to host more events in the future.”