St. Pete Deltas celebrate 60 years

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is celebrating 60 years of service and is commemorating this occasion by launching a billboard advertising campaign along the highway.

If you have driven on Interstate 275 this week going northbound near Tropicana Field, you have probably seen a bright crimson digital sign featuring current St. Petersburg Alumnae chapter (SPAC) Delta Sigma Theta President Dr. Shameka S. Jones, along with the last two living charter members,  Dr. Evie Welch and Apostle Clarice Pennington.

The billboard is the first of many activities the chapter has planned to honor their 60th anniversary.

“Delta is about love and service. I am honored to be a charter member of the St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta,” said Apostle Pennington. “It has allowed me to reach out and encourage others. Providing service with love is important.”

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is an organization of college-educated women committed to public service whose primary focus is on the Black community. On Jan. 13, 1913, the sorority was founded by 22 collegiate women at Howard University to promote academic excellence and provide needed assistance.

More than 350,000 Delta Sigma Theta members have been initiated in 1,058 charter chapters in all 50 states and International. Delta has awarded $5,600,000 in scholarships and grants since July 2019.

The St. Petersburg chapter was chartered on Feb. 19, 1961, by 20 dynamic young women.  For the past 60 years, SPAC has served St. Petersburg, implementing programs under the sorority’s Five Point Programmatic Thrust (Educational Development, Economic Development, International Awareness & Involvement, Physical & Mental Health and Political Awareness & Involvement) and awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships to students.

“Some of the most memorable experiences of my youth occurred in high school as a Del-Teen,” said Dr. Shameka Jones, regional clinical pharmacist with Florida Blue. “Delta provided so many unique opportunities, life-lessons, and opened many doors for me, also igniting my inner leader. “My Del-teen experience came full circle as I flourished from being the first past president of Del-teens to becoming President of the St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter 24 years later!”

SPAC is heavily involved in the St. Petersburg community hosting programs and fundraisers.  Historical events include The Golden Ball and Mr. Wonderful Pageant. Modern events are the annual Prayer Breakfast, the Beautillion Militaire, a character leadership program for boys, and their long-standing Breakfast with Santa. The sorority mentors girls in middle school with the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy and Delta GEMS (formerly Del-Teens) empower girls in high school.

The chapter has grown from 20 members in 1961 to 126 active members and remains steadfast in exemplifying their biennial theme, “Strengthening Our Community by Embracing O.N.E. – Opportunity. Network. Empowerment.”  SPAC’s 60th-anniversary celebration is built upon a fundraising campaign to extend the sorority’s capacity to give back more than ever in 2021.

A “Diamonds Are Forever” virtual birthday party will be held this Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. The chapter will also hold “What’s Poppin’ DST,” an online popcorn fundraiser from Feb. 25 to March 1.  A culminating virtual gala will be held in May.

The public is encouraged to support the St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter 60th anniversary events.  For more information on all events, visit www.stpetedeltas.org.

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