BY CYNTHIA BROWN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Chartered in 1951, the Wilmington, N.C. Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has worked continuously to affect change through friendship and service in the local community. The chapter’s strategic goals are linked to national priorities of The Links, Incorporated. One area in which the chapter has delivered and sustained transformational programs is the annual Kaleidoscope Fine Arts Brunch. Designed to engage the local community in fun and fellowship, the Kaleidoscope Fine Arts Brunch brings topics and concerns of the local community to the forefront while featuring local artists and an annual preview of spring fashions. The theme of this year’s event was “Planting Seeds for Future Leaders in STEM”. The organization also paid tribute to Mrs. Yolanda B. Norwood, immediate past president of the Wilmington, N.C. Chapter who passed away suddenly in December 2013.
The event was held in the Burney Center on the campus of UNC-W on Saturday morning March 8, 2014. This was also International Women’s Day, which proved to be a perfect day for the event since Mrs. Norwood was heavily involved in chapter projects that helped women and children internationally. In support of her service to the N.C. Chapter of UN Women and Coastal Carolina UNA-USA, members of both organizations attended the brunch.
Featuring music by Rick Soundz Band, the program opened with a warm welcome from Mistress of Ceremony and local chapter president, Ms. Dorothy DeShields. Over 300 guests were present. N.C. Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley (also a member of Links, Incorporated) addressed the guests by explaining the occasion and purpose. Meditation and grace were offered by Mrs. Constance Drain Greene of the local chapter.
Guests enjoyed a healthy and tasty meal while listening to the keynote speaker, Dr. Debra Saunders-White. Dr. White is a member of The Links, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
She reminded everyone of the need to meet our youth where they are in technology but to take them back to their roots and help them develop good cognitive, reasoning and analytical skills. In these areas and many others, she encouraged the audience to help our youth prepare for the future. She concluded her remarks encouraging us to continue to support HBCUs and reminding us of the many inventors and innovators who are graduates of HBCUs. The Alpha Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. presented Dr. Saunders-White with its recently released history book “The Visionary Five: Timeless Service”, in recognition of her past membership in the chapter.
As the event moved into its final segment, all eyes turned to the Kaleidoscope mannequins who strutted and strolled in the latest spring fashions courtesy of Dillard’s in Independence Mall.
The Wilmington, N.C. Chapter acknowledges support from event sponsors: 2TWater, Choices Design, Copy & Print, Coastal Carolina UNCA-USA, Daniels Development Company, Dillard’s, Elegant Accents, Greg Washington and the University of N.C. at Wilmington. The chapter extends its appreciation to the local community for its ongoing support. Community support has enabled the chapter to sponsor and contribute to programs and activities designed to enrich the lives of citizens locally, and around the world.
The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 276 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. 2014 members of the Wilmington, N.C. Chapter are: Dorothy DeShields (President), Emma Jackson (Vice-President), Rachel Stephens (Recording Secretary), Francine DeShields (Treasurer), Wanda Sloan (Financial Secretary), Roxanne Devane (Corresponding Secretary), Lynn Allen (Parliamentarian), Juanita Akinleye, Vivian Alexander, LaKasha Best, Cynthia J. Brown, Karen Davis Brunson, Margaret Fredlaw, Constance Drain Greene, Wendy Lofton, Carol Malloy, G. Wylene Mapson, Gloria Monroe, Mercedes J. Newsome, Valita Quattlebaum, Charlene Richardson, Marva Robinson, Mary Alice Thatch, Patricia Waddell and Jacquelyn Warren.