On March 13, 2019 hundreds of women from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) arrived in Omaha for the Magnificent Mid-Western Regional Conference. With a theme of “On Track to Exemplify Excellence,” the sorority convened at the beautiful Hilton Omaha Hotel in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.
Members from the regions eight states attended the 89th AKA mid-western regional four-day conference. Workshops and breakout sessions held throughout the convening helped to prepare attendees to accelerate their progress demonstrated through achievement in education, careers, entrepreneurship, strong families and efforts to build stronger communities.
The highly successful and inspiring events were under the leadership of Regional Director, Twyla Woods-Buford and coordinated by a host committee which demonstrated excellence and outstanding teamwork. AKA members attended from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
The sorority has had a long and impactful history led by women of strong faith, committed to excellence and dedicated to action on its core mission. The events held in Omaha, Nebraska lived up to that standard in amazing ways. The AKA’s also celebrated Silver, Golden, Diamond and Legacy sorority members. The influential sisterhood strongly believes in giving honor where honor is due and is well known for recognizing their trailblazers.
The sorority hit the ground running by participating in various community service projects including working with the food pantry at Clair Memorial United Methodist. The AKA’s made large donations of food to the pantry and also helped to prepare Clair to serve the community. The members also donated eyeglasses, promoted breast cancer prevention, the support of HBCU’s and black-owned businesses.
The Public Program and Reception held on Thursday night appropriately steeped in meaningful tradition was a powerful and moving celebration attended by hundreds. Many of the participants commented that it was one of the best community events in the history of regional conferences. International President, Dr. Glenda Glover, delivered a strong call to action to emphasize the AKA’s unwavering commitment to HBCU’s.
Local community leaders and organizations were honored for significantly impacting their communities. Awardees recognized during the Public Service Awards program were: Ivan Gilreath, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands; Kenny McMorris, CEO of Charles Drew Health Center; Chris Rodgers, Board Chair for the Douglas County Board of Commissioners; Dr. Cheryl Logan, Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools; Willie Barney, Founder and President of the Empowerment Network and James Stinson, Agent for Allstate Insurance. Each of the recipients shared their connection with the exceptional sisters of AKA.
Friday night’s step show was a show stopper as AKA’s of all ages represented their regional chapters and cities with passion, excellence, and meticulously coordinated moves.
Saturday’s “Evening of Elegance Aboard the Pearl Express” was another outstanding event highlighted by a time of celebration, networking, and togetherness. The AKA’s closed out the Regional Conference with a Prayer Breakfast and Ecumenical Service which was open to the public.
Learn more about the organization at www.AKA1908.com
Ted Lampkin: Rising to Meet the Challenge
Charles Drew Health Center
Growing up down the street from Charles Drew Health Center, Inc., it was no question for Ted Lampkin to give back to the community that helped raise him.
“I’m passionate about public health because I am a product of public health services. Coming up, my family and I used the services at Charles Drew.”
As the Associate Director of Behavioral Health Services, Ted has been on the front-line teaching and training team members in new approaches to behavioral health. It’s no surprise that when COVID-19 struck, Ted was front and center.
“My role was to help transition the Behavioral Health department from doing face-to-face therapy to telehealth therapy.”
While COVID-19 began to escalate, increasing evidence highlighted racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
“We made it easy for the patients, providing traditional face-to-face, telehealth, and when needed telephonic sessions. A lot of patients had anxiety about COVID-19 and being in the middle of a pandemic, in addition to their other stressers.”
“The benefit of telehealth is we can continue to provide quality service during a pandemic. You take out the barriers to care with telehealth.”
Brenda Avant: Providing Quality Healthcare in the Midst of COVID-19
Charles Drew Health Center
As a North Omaha native, Family Nurse Practitioner, Brenda Avant, understands educating her patients about their healthcare choices is a foundational principle to accessing safe and quality healthcare.
When the pandemic shut down Omaha metro schools, Brenda and the team members at Charles Drew Health Center, Inc. School-based Health Centers had to switch gears. While still providing in-person care, the SBHC Medical providers began utilizing telehealth to remain in contact with their patients.
“The telehealth program at Charles Drew really grew at that time. As Medical providers, we were able to continue serving our student patients through telehealth. The parents really enjoyed it because they felt even through a pandemic their child’s provider is still in tune with their needs.”
As the pandemic surged, the healthcare inequalities within the American health system began to come to the foreground. “It made me proud to see that Charles Drew was a front runner in COVID-19. The community was looking to us to help guide them through.”
“Charles Drew made it very easy for the population we serve to continue receiving care. We may be small, but we are mighty.”
Larry Duncan: Resiliency in the Face of a Crisis
Charles Drew Health Center
Hailing from the south side of Chicago, Larry Duncan, Director of Behavioral Health Services at Charles Drew Health Center, Inc. has always had a passion for helping others. “My passion, at first, started off with a drug and alcohol emphasis based on my own experiences and knowledge. As I grew and received more education, mental health became the next umbrella. It rests with my understanding that there are unique issues that affect black and brown people, and people who are marginalized.”
Within the first year serving at Charles Drew, Larry faced his biggest challenge yet, leading a team while in the mists of coronavirus. “The number one thing we did quickly was become active.” As COVID-19 began to highlight the care gaps within marginalized communities, the Behavioral Health team at Charles Drew looked to bridge those gaps within the community.
“For our population it was a dual threat. On one side of the coin, the crisis becomes an additional stress to a population of people who already live with stress. On the flip side of the coin, the lack of community and social interaction increased depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness.”
The message was simple, but practical: Practice the Five Cs–Connection, Commitment, Communion, Contain, and Continue.
Looking back, one of the greatest strengths of Charles Drew, in Larry’s eyes, was the ability to remain active. While most were waiting, frozen in their activity, Charles Drew advanced forward.
“We got better and better at it. We were doing testing on the front line when testing was just starting. As masks began to be required, we were handing them out to the community members in need. Whatever needed to be done in the face of this virus, we did it.”