More than 200 chapter members and guests gathered at the Hilton Hotel Philadelphia on City Line Avenue to celebrate the 25th year milestone of the Rho Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. this month.
The chapter was chartered a quarter of a century ago on May 22, 1988. Rho Theta Omega Chapter began with 59 members and the current membership has grown to more than 200 active members.
Mary E. Houston, the eight president of Rho Theta Omega Chapter said, “the celebration provided a glimpse of our chapter’s past, present and future. We made generous charitable donations to three deserving nonprofit groups: Belmont Mansion, Community Partnership School and the Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley. In 2012, our 200 plus members logged over 6000 volunteer hours of service. Our goal, in this 25th Anniversary year, is to volunteer hours of service. Our goal in this 25th Anniversary year is to volunteer 10,000 or more hours to projects that benefit women, girls and their families! It will put an exclamation mark to our chapter’s 25 years of community service.”
The historic Belmont Mansion, under the leadership of Audrey Johnson- Thornton, Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley, with outstanding senior communities throughout the region, and the Community Partnership School, an independent elementary school in North Central Philadelphia headed by Eric C. Jones, each received a $2,000 donation from the Rho Theta Omega Chapter to help advance their efforts.
Other current officers of Rho Theta Omega Chapter serving with President Mary E. Hughes are: Robyn R. Jones, Milika Singleton, Sharritha Thigpen-Wyatt, Celeste Merriweather, Denise Brown, Tara Gaines Hammond, Demeatrice Saunders, Shariah Dixon-Turner, Lisa Sneed, Quina Ross, Cheryl Mallory, Gwenda Hart, Terri Dean, Maxine Johnson, Judge Genece Brinkley, Shantelle Jenkins, Rachelle Richards, Karima Bouchenaf and Judith Grant. Eva Diane Lyle-Smith, Terri Richardson, Arlene Kane, Marci Rodriguez and Phyllis Green are members-at-large.
The celebratory luncheon was a beautiful vision of members wearing their official pink and green. The program included a special commemorative video and a variety of musical tributes, including the Rho Theta Omega Pearls and Lillian and Company. Smiles and words of gratitude permeated the air as members greeted each other and reminisced about the chartering of the chapter and the hundreds of thousands of service hours logged since 1988.
In attendance were past presidents, regional, and international officers who traveled from far and near to acknowledge and applaud chapter members for their consistent and sustained philanthropic outreach in the Greater Philadelphia Region.
Congratulations to 25th Silver Anniversary event chairs: Marcia Shepherd Baker, Patricia Louison, Ellen Thomas and Clara Tolbert. Committee members Charmaine Bailey, Betsaida Benjamin, Elba Giles, Sandy Moon Hightower, Mary E. Houston, Jocelyn Jarrat, Robyn Jones, Danielle Laws, Charlits Latham-Martin, Bernice McIntyre, Denise Myers, Meridel Peterson, Lenora Smith and Bernadette Wiggins did a great job helping to make this event a huge success.
Have a fantastic week “Out & About” everyone!
The first weekend of May 2013 was a joyous celebration of the spiritual journey of the Father Martini Shaw and the congregation of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.
Father Shaw, who has led and inspired the church for the past decade, stressed to the anniversary planning committee and others, “the celebration is not about me, but should focus on what we have accomplished together in ministry during the past ten years. Serving as the 17th rector of St. Thomas for the past ten years has been a truly humbling and immensely gracious and joyous experience,” he said. “I remain very thankful to God for the opportunity granted me to serve at such an historic church with so many committed and faithful followers of Christ. I look forward to continuing to love and serve those whom God has placed in my midst. And I further look forward to keeping our mission alive as being “an open, Christ-centered community of faith in which the Gospel is taught, lived and spread.”
St. Thomas was founded in 1792 as the first Black Church in the Episcopal Church, U.S.A.
It is also the oldest African-American Church in the City of Philadelphia. Father Shaw proudly now serves as a successor to the Rev. Absalom Jones, the first Black Priest of the Episcopal Church and first Rector of St. Thomas Church.
Father Shaw presently serves as a trustee for the Episcopal Church Building Fund; Board member for the Philadelphia African American Museum; advisory board member for the Episcopal Church Office of Black Ministries; member of the NAACP and member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
He is a native of Detroit. In 1982 he earned two undergraduate degrees from Wayne State University in Psychology and Biology. In 1988, Father Shaw earned a Master’s of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Hyde Park, Chicago. Never one to shy away from rigorous challenges, he also earned a Certificate in Anglican Studies from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. the same year.
In 2008, Father Shaw earned the Doctorate of Ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation, with completed course work at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England. Following commencement from graduate school, Father Shaw was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1988 and was assigned to parish duties at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in south suburban Flossmoor, Ill.
In 1990, Father Shaw was selected by his bishop and congregation to become the Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the oldest African- American Episcopal congregation in the state of Illinois. Father Shaw has also served as an instructor of biology and English as a second language at Columbia College and Richard Daley Community College.
Weekend festivities began on Friday with a casual “Meet and Greet” at St. Thomas featuring great jazz by Joe Stevenson and a good old fashioned fish fry.
On Saturday a dinner dance, “A Black and White Affair,” at Santerian Hall in Cheltenham was just plain fun and fellowship. Gwenda Hart served as mistress of ceremonies and the invocation was given by the Rev. Julio Murray, Bishop of Panama before everyone enjoyed a delicious buffet and enjoyed Philly’s Own DJ, Marc Anthony.
The dinner program included heartfelt reflections about Father Shaw by Al Dandridge, Clare Mae Daniels, Frank Johnson, Joann Jones, Richard Jones, Edna Sanders, one of many attendees who travelled from Chicago for the celebration, Bernadette Wyche and Deadra Cannon who referred to Father Shaw as, “The brother she always wished she had.”
The love and respect for Father Shaw is evident. He was referred to as, a good shepherd, friend and dedicated leader who always takes time to visit members who are homebound or hospitalized.
There was a special gift presented to Father Shaw by Betty “Tootie” Stanley. He thanked everyone for their ongoing support and stressed the unity and strength of the church as a joint effort.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Dr. Walter P. Harris, there with his lovely wife Nicole, is not only a skilled surgeon I trust with my eyes but an excellent dancer of the wobble!
Sunday’s service at St. Thomas, “A Festive Eucharistic Celebration,” included guest preacher, Rev. Julio Murray, (Bishop of Panama) who delivered a moving sermon. The service was followed by a reception, the end of a beautiful, very special weekend.
Anniversary co-chairs who did an outstanding job were: Catherine E. Stafford and Albert S. Dandridge. Committee members who also helped to make this a wonderful milestone event were: Patricia Akins, Brenda Best, Deadra Cannon, Clare Mae Daniels, Joan Hall, Gail Harris, Gwenda Hart, Lena Hines, Frank Johnson, Bettie Jones, Jo Ann B. Jones, Kelly Jones, Monica Jones, Steven Lewis, Denise McKinney-Gibson, Colon L. Mitchell, Mueni Mwanzia, Edward L. Muse, Deborah Nixon, William Smalls, Anita Smith, Elizabeth Stanley, Judy Tillman, Barbara Wiley, Lisa Woodley and Bernadette Wyche.
The anniversary sub-committee chair, Gwenda Hart and her committee members and volunteers; Paula Lamb and Velva Smalls also worked diligently on this event.
Congratulations and very best wishes to Father Shaw and the entire church family!
Every year we can count on the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC) to pull out the stops as they raise funds for a much needed cause. This year’s 5th Annual Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars fundraiser was held at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building in Center City. The organization’s signature event was held to raise funds to continue providing supportive services and programming for individuals and families living with sickle cell disease. It also helps to increase awareness about the genetic disease that exists in startling numbers in the African and Hispanic communities, affecting 1 out of every 500 African- Americans and approximately 100, 000 across the country.
The event proved to be a great success with about 300 people in attendance. Stanley Simpkins, the organization’s dedicated executive director, was joined by Father Canon Gregory Smith of St. Luke’s Church of Germantown and many members. Simpkins is an active member of St. Luke’s Church.
This year’s host was NBC-10 news anchor Lori Wilson and actor and singer, Chaz Shepherd, was the post -dance commentator. The evening’s activities included a cocktail reception, jazz combo, full course dinner, silent auction, dance performance by Eleone Dance Theatre, ballroom dance competition and a presentation of “Voices of Sickle Cell” with personal stories shared by four people who are living with sickle cell disease.
This year’s enegetic, talented team of contestants gave their all to everything from the elegant Foxtrot to the sensual Cha- Cha! They were: Carrie Denny, editor of Philadelphia Magazine’s Philadelphia Wedding ; Yael Lehman, executive director of The Food Trust; Q102’s Chris ‘Maxwell’ Jones; Alison Young, vice president of external affairs at the National Constitution Center; Dr. Vera Tolbert, past president of AFRICOM and senior project leader at Independence Blue Cross; Albert Lee, community and content manager at the Independence Visitors Center; Danielle Cohn, vice president of marketing and communications at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Dr. Marjorie Dejoie, medical consultant for SCDAA/PDVC.
LaDeva Davis, dance director, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts; Shawn Lamere- Williams, artistic director, Eleone Dance Theatre, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown and State Sen. Larry Farnese served as dance judges.
Alison Young won first place in the completion with Chris “Maxwell Jones” coming in second and Kacie McDonnell taking third place. Everyone did an incredible job and all of the contestants were winners. The event raised more than $45,000!
Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars would not have been possible without the support of our host committee: Councilwoman Marion Tasco, Audrey Johnson-Thornton, Miller Parker, Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, Judge Renee Caldwell Hughes and presenting sponsor, Brownstone PR and official sponsor, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
For more information about sickle cell disease and ways to support the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter and upcoming events go to www.sicklecelldisorder.com or call (215) 471-8686.
Have a fantastic week “Out & About” everyone!
Michael A. Major Sr. and Monica A. Major experienced a complete formal wedding ceremony at Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia after 25 years of marriage. The wedding was officiated by the Rev. Gus Roman and the Rev. Clifton Bundick. Monica was given away in marriage by her cousin, Clayton T. Cooper Sr. and the couple made it clear that this ceremony was beyond a renewal of vows. Monica was beautiful in an elegant white satin strapless gown accessorized with silver sandals and a crystal headpiece.
Monica was married at age 25. She is the daughter of the late Walter B. Shirley and Alafare Shirley. She was born and raised in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood in Philadelphia and attended Gillespie Junior High School. In May of 2012, she received her master’s degree in teaching in visual arts from The University of the Arts. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in textile design from Philadelphia University. She is currently an art teacher at the Young Scholars Fredrick Douglass Charter School.
Michael married Monica at age 26. His parents are the late Solomon Major and Albertha Major.
He also attended Gillespie Junior High School and grew up in Philadelphia’s Tioga neighborhood. Michael is currently a doctoral student at the Biblical Theological Seminary. In June 2012 he received his master of divinity from the Biblical Theological Seminary. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science from Temple University. Michael is an associate minister at Zion Baptist Church. He has worked at Susquehanna International Group as a software development manager for the past 17 years.
The Wedding Party
Monica’s maids of honor were Cynthia L. Shirley, Monique A. Major, Michele A. Major; her bridesmaids were Fay Francis, Lauren Williams, Jenna Arnold, Tiffany Huynh and Breana Cooper, Brittany Cooper and Cashana Cooper. Kheziah Kinsey was the beautiful flower girl.
The groom’s attendants were: best men Arthur A. Davis Jr. and Michael A. Major Jr. Groomsmen were Reginald V. Cooper Jr., Atif Hassan Sanford, Brandon Kinsey, Micaiah Conway, Jeremy Cooper, Christopher Murray and Jared Arnold. Colin Cooper was the ring bearer.
The couple was blessed to have the godmother of the bride, Helen Toodle;, godmothers of the groom, Annabelle Dow and Katie Myles, and godfather of the groom, Jim Davis,in attendance on their very special day.
How They Met
Although Monica and Michael attended the same junior high school and grew up in the same neighborhood, they never actually met during this time. Many years later both started attending a Bible study class at Zion Baptist Church led by the Rev. Clifton Bundick. Michael would visit Monica’s house on his bike and they would sit on the porch and talk for many hours.
The couple’s journey of love began as friendship. Monica planned to go on a, “Singles and Second Honeymoon Conference” sponsored by Christian Research and Development . Michael gave her a small bear with a small picture and asked, “Why are you are going to Washington, D.C. to find a boyfriend when you may have one right here?” He proposed to Monica on a day trip to Baltimore. They traveled to the Inner Harbor and shopped for rings, and the rest is history.
Monica and Michael decided to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary because they wanted to take time to recognize this special moment in their lives. They believe strongly in the institution of marriage and wanted to make sure that others were able to celebrate with them.
Monica decided to have the couple’s children, godchildren, nephews, nieces and younger cousins serve as bridesmaids and groomsmen. They also wanted to include members of the original wedding party. The original wedding party members walked in first and the younger ones followed in the procession.
The bride shared, “Mike and I shared personal statements with each other that reflected our love and how it has grown over the last 25 years.”
A joyous reception was held at Zion’s Fellowship Hall. Guests dined, danced and enjoyed a video of the couple’s first wedding ceremony.
“It was moving to see our family and friends enjoying the first ceremony and reception. It was bittersweet because so many people on the video are no longer with us. However, our children, family members and friends have new memories. It was also very special to see the younger ones share with us in the ceremony,” Monica said.
Twenty-five years ago, Monica and Michael enjoyed a fabulous honeymoon in the Bahamas. Mike shared, “Even after 25 years with life’s ups and downs, I am still honeymooning with the woman of my dreams.”
Congratulations and very best wishes to Otho Poulson and his beautiful wife, Matilda Poulson , who are blessed to celebrate seven decades of marriage. The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary on March 22.
Matilda, 90, was born in Gloucester, Va. and moved to Philadelphia many years ago as a teenager. The beloved family matriarch is affectionately known as “Tilly.” She recalls her year’s at Overbrook High School and how much she enjoyed being an amateur track star. In addition to being a dedicated mother and homemaker, she was the proprietor of her own business.
The couple met in the early ’40s when Otho was employed at a peanut product factory in South Philadelphia. Matilda’s cousin, Eugene Gayle, who worked at the same factory, introduced the couple. As with most enduring, loving relationships, a solid friendship and dating evolved into an incredible love story and marriage on March 22, 1943.
Otho, 93, is a affectionately known as “Buddy.” He is a Philadelphia native and graduated from Overbrook High School in 1939. He is a retiree from the U.S. Postal Service and a World War II U.S. Army veteran. He served in the Philippines from 1942-1945. He was deployed to the Philippines following the birth of the couple’s first child, Lola Poulson Bailey.
After he returned to Philadelphia in 1945, the couple settled into their first home and their family continued to grow and flourish. They were blessed with two more children, sons Willis Poulson and Bruce Poulson. They have five grandchildren, Troy, Monika, Jamal “Will”, Andre and Elliott. They also have three beautiful great-grandchildren
For more than five decades, their home in West Philadelphia has been the venue for countless family gatherings. Family members travel from as far away as Tacoma, Wash. for a traditional Thanksgiving holiday with the Poulsons.
The Poulsons are proud to have participated in this county’s Civil Rights Movement. One of their most vivid memories is attending the March on Washington in 1963. The couple has been members of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia.
The love and respect for this wonderful couple was evident when I spoke with their grandson Elliot about them. May God continue to bless this family.