ST. PETERSBURG — The Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. held its 52nd annual Achievement Week Awards Program last Sun., Nov. 16 at the Rock of Jesus Missionary Baptist Church.
In front of a packed house, the program started with the procession of African American high school males and the Men of Omega Psi Phi. The procession epitomized their theme this year of Leveraging Our Collective Resources for Impact.
The evening witnessed the presentation of several awards for achievement throughout Pinellas County. This year’s Citizen of the Year was awarded to County Commissioner Kenneth T. Welch for his many years of outstanding service in County Government.
“We worked with a number of initiatives from healthcare to public housing…resulting in 30 million dollars, about a 1,000 new units on the ground for the county,” said Welsh. He further emphasized that south St. Petersburg is positioned for further community development over the next 30 years due to its current local government support.
The Omega Man of the year was presented to Brother Roderick Green for his hands on work with the Pathfinders, the Lakewood Jr. Spartans Youth Group, youth initiatives under the auspices of law enforcement and numerous duties in support of the chapter and its mission.
Green said that his “wow moment” this year occurred when he was Dean of Pledges for 16 young men who would eventually become members of Eta Rho Chapter this year. He stated that their growth from total naivety about the chapter to growing to understand its true function was an eye opener for him because they saw the impact the fraternity had on the community it served.
The Superior Service Award was presented to Brother Harry Harvey, for both his leadership roles in the local chapter and the State of Florida.
The Founders Award was presented to the Immediate past Basileus, Brother James E. Jackson, Jr. for his work within the chapter, the greater Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida.
The Basileus Cardinal Principles Awards went to: Brother Marlin Heyward for Manhood, Brother Malcolm Flakes for Scholarship, Brother Jumanne Melville for Perseverance, Brother Janomi McCullough for Uplift and Brother William Puller for Leadership.
The keynote speaker of the evening was the electrifying Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson who challenged the audience to stay involved in their communities and to rebrand their presentations and materials being placed before the people. That to stay relevant, organizations must change and become more inclusive.
Richardson spoke about the essential role and purpose the African-American fraternities and sororities have played in the last 103 years and what will be their role in the next 103 years.
He warned that our fraternities and sororities must be very careful not to “haze our way into extinction” stating that each hazing settlement costs upwards of $500,000.
Looking to the future, Richardson can foresee a new model for higher education emerging due to non-traditional ways of access to education driven by mobile technologies.
The weeklong celebration of achievement culminated with dinner at Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant.