ST. PETERSBURG —The members of Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will celebrate 60 years of service Dec. 18-20 at the St. Petersburg Hilton Hotel.
The local chapter was chartered on Dec. 15 in 1955 by 15 courageous women determined to serve the community and enhance young people’s lives.
The chartering members who have respectfully become known as the “Fifteen Pearls of ZUO” were Annie Barton, Ruth Batson, Pauline Besselli, Lena Brown, Mary O. Brown, Claronell Griffin, Bertha James, Rubye Wysinger, Dorothy Johnson, Elizabeth Jones, Annie McLin, Willie M. McMurray, Eloise E. Perkins, Verdya Robinson, and Florence Williams. The first president was Lena Brown. Shortly after the chartering, nine other members transferred their membership from Gamma Theta Omega in Tampa to Zeta Upsilon Omega.
Under the leadership of Cassandra Williams, chapter president, sorority members will host a weekend of planned activities including a holiday party on Dec. 18 and a member’s only gala on Dec. 19. The public is invited to attend a free reception at 4 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the St. Petersburg Hilton Hotel, 333 1st Street S. in St. Petersburg.
During the public event, the sorority will announce the recipients of its inaugural Community Assistance Grant awards. The initiative was launched in 2015 to support the development of community service projects and increase civic engagement among youth and families. Award amounts range $500 to $1,000. Other event highlights include a proclamation presentation by the City of St. Petersburg along with special greetings from representatives of the Divine Nine organizations.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is the oldest Greek-letter organization established in America by black women and was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, the organization connects thousands of college-trained women who give of themselves to support community service projects and scholarship programs.