It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, so on August 12, 2017, from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, the time arrived once again, for the exceptional men of the Cornerstone Epsilon Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., to live their creed, give back to the community, and benefit the next generation. This year the men of Epsilon Alpha partnered with the Morningside Children’s Partnership Program and collected and donated over 130 stuffed backpacks. Stuffed backpacks are backpacks that contain all the necessary essentials for any classroom, including pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, glue, scissors and pencil sharpeners.
Although Fort Worth is a prosperous American city, the Morningside neighborhood, a 2.2 square mile community of about 8,000 residents on the southeast side, has been suffering from high unemployment, violence, substandard health care, and low educational outcomes for years. In fact, the community's crime rate is significantly higher than Fort Worth in every category. Considering that the average income for a family of four is less than $20,000 and 73% of the community's high school students are "at-risk of dropping out," Morningside is troubled.
However, after years of being a distressed community in the heart of Fort Worth, Morningside has come together to rebuild the neighborhood. This rebuild came with the help of a planning grant from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the Sid Richardson Foundation, the Morningside Children's Partnership (MCP) was formed in 2012 as an expression of the community's commitment to stronger families and a safer and revitalized future. After conversations with residents, students, educators, faith-based leaders, business leaders, and community partners, the community expressed their needs:
·More healthy children prepared to enter kindergarten
·More children who succeed academically and feel safe
·More youth who graduate from high school and successfully complete vocational training or a post-secondary degree
·More families and residents who support the academic success and well being of the community's children
·More residents engaged in high-quality partnerships and advocating for a safe, healthy, and financially stable community
Along with donating the backpacks and school supplies, the men of Epsilon Alpha also served free food and ran game booths that featured free prizes. In addition to backpacks, health aides, exercise material, as well as, back to school information, was provided by representatives from the Morningside Children's Partnership (MCP), the United Way, Fidelity Investments, Rodeo Dental, Catholic Charites of Fort Worth, Girl Scouts, and The Fort Worth Library.
“This turned out to be an information and Backpack Extravaganza and was a blessing because of the sponsors and tireless effort these volunteers, especially the men Omega, gave back to our community,” said Tawney Harris. “Epsilon Alpha really helped us by unofficial being one of our title sponsor for this event. When I saw the grateful look in the eyes of those in attendance, it reminded me of myself when I was a little girl in those lines. I believe we all have a responsibility to give back to the community, where we live, work, or entertain,” she added.
“School supplies are a small investment in the future of our community. Back to school events help equip our children with the necessary tools to grown, learn, and succeed in the classroom and in the real world,” said Epsilon Alpha Event Chairman, Bobby Clark Jr.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity contributes locally year-round through scholarship and school action programs, voter registration, health initiatives, and education programs. These programs include the Charles Drew Blood Drive and partnership with the American Diabetes Association. “The school supply giveaway was a success and we are very appreciative to have a partnered with Morningside Children's Partnership (MCP) and participation from so many great organizations in this event.” said Keeper of Records and Seals, Edward Brown. “All we wanted to do is our part in benefitting the next generation, and giving back to the community.”
Tragedy struck the Southside of Fort Worth, Texas on June 10th, as 7 people were shot and 2 tragically killed. The violence in Fort Worth is up 69% in 2017, which was an astounding number from just a year ago. In an effort to, hopefully repeal this violence, the Southside Fort Worth community came together to start a positive initiative, which was called “No Shots Fired”. No Shots Fired is a 100-day initiative, to influence positive change and direction throughout the city and the community, by stopping violence through engaging in positive activity. It is the goal of the “No Shots Fired” initiative, that No Shots would be fired throughout the entire city, especially in lower economic areas. This event started on a historic day in Texas, June 19th (Juneteenth), which is the day, on paper, that slavery ended in Texas.
After several positive and productive activities, on July 22, 2017 a violent free Fun Fest was held in Historic Evans Plaza in Fort Worth, TX. The event was from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., and was a free event for all families. The event included live entertainment, public speakers, youth activities, music, and food. The food is where the men of the Epsilon Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. come in, as they volunteered to cook over 1,000 hot dogs and several other items. In addition, they contributed several cases of water, bread, and other goods, as well as staging an area for food to be received.
Bro. Jerry McDowell, Epsilon Alpha Event Coordinator stated:
“I work and live in this community, and just like everyone else, I want and hope the violence stops. If I could contribute by organizing a group of outstanding character men to give back, and hopefully provide families with summer fun and relief and hopefully change the mindset of some of these youths away from violence, then I am more than honored to do so.”
Bro. Darryl “DJ” Jordan stated:
“This grill is hot, but not as warm as the climate in the Fort Worth streets, as violence in running rampant right now. I just wanted to come out here and do my part to try to create positive memories and change the dynamics and culture, which will hopefully reduce the violence.”