The Theta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated will host a double celebration to commemorate its Centennial and to celebrate the payoff of its 30-year mortgage on its multimillion-dollar AKARAMA Foundation Community Service Center in 15 years. The Center is under the umbrella of the AKARAMA Foundation, the charitable arm of Theta Omega chapter.

The Chapter will honor these milestones with a Reception on Saturday, November 5 from 2-5 PM at the Center 6220 S. Ingleside. The theme of the celebration is “100 Years of Sisterhood and Service: Strengthening Our Community.” Founded on November 5, 1922, the chapter is hailed as one of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s premiere chapters. Theta Omega Chapter was the first Graduate Chapter in Chicago and boasts an illustrious history.

During the reception, members will reflect on the past 100 years and make projections for the future as well. Several organizations such as Legal Aid Chicago, DLA Piper Law Firm and University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement will be recognized and will receive expressions of appreciation for being sustained supporters through the years.

In making the announcement, Kimberley Egonmwan, Esq., President of the AKArama Foundation and Theta Omega chapter declared that the reception will hail the chapter’s Centennial milestone. Egonmwan also asserted: “Retiring the mortgage is a triumph and a reflection of the Foundation’s love and devotion to serving the community.”

Located in the heart of the Woodlawn community, the Center is heralded as a beacon of light. Under its roof is a service haven where programs are planned and hosted by members who reach out to the community and provide information, tools and resources.

Egonmwan declared that the payoff of the Center represents the culmination of a dream by the Foundation members. “In illustrating their financial might, members pooled their resources, combined their talents, crafted a plan, harnessed their strengths and executed their mission: to own, manage and control the Foundation’s direction and destiny. It is a powerful show of Black economic empowerment by African-American women.”

The President revealed that the early payoff was because aggressive fundraising efforts were mounted. Additionally, with extra-generous donations from members and substantial amounts bequeathed to the chapter, the mortgage was paid off in half the time.

During the event on Saturday November 5, members will host a symbolic “Burning of the Mortgage.”

The AKArama Community Service Center stands as a brick-and-mortar extension of the Foundation members’ passion, resolve and commitment to service. Under its roof, the Foundation has served millions, awarded over $1 million in scholarships and, overall, earned its designation as a citadel of service.

The acquisition and ownership of the Community Service Center is a major part of the arc of history of Theta Omega and the AKARAMA Foundation. In the 1990s, members began craving to own their own property and create a lasting footprint of service in the Woodlawn community. The urge for ownership represented the tipping point that led to the eventual building of the Center. Audrey Cooper-Stanton, chapter president in 1999, led the charge. She put in motion a plan, assembled a team, and did the preliminary work that achieved remarkable results.

Cooper-Stanton crafted and submitted a proposal. Ultimately the Foundation was awarded $500,000 from the Illinois First Fund. Additionally, seeing the potential of the Foundation to reshape the community, the City of Chicago sold the chapter eight parcels of land valued at $450,000 for a total of $1 per parcel.

Reflecting on the significance of these two developments Stanton-Cooper remarked: “With these two events, the Center went from a dream to a reality.”

The contractors charged with the overall project were Black-owned firms: The architect was Raymond Broady of RBA Architects; construction management was entrusted to UBM, Inc., whose president is Paul J. King, Jr.

In 2007, five years after the groundbreaking, the AKArama Foundation Community Service Center opened its doors to much fanfare and excitement. Spotlighted among the attendees was then-Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Jr. who helped give life to the Community Service Center, as he championed equity for African-Americans in Illinois and the creation of lasting Black institutions. Jones is invited to attend and will have his lasting contributions applauded at the reception on November 5.

With pride, Egonmwan declared, “The AKArama Community Center is emblematic of the 100 years of service that defines the Foundation and the chapter. The Center has emerged as a service haven where programs are planned and hosted by members who reach out to the community and provide information, tools and resources. We invite the public to participate in the many activities that take place at the Center.

The reception will be the first of three events to commemorate Theta Omega’s Centennial. Following are the other high-profile events and the dates:

• On Saturday November 12, the chapter will host a gala formal at the Marriott Hotel, 540 N. Michigan Avenue beginning at 6:00 P.M. Members will reflect on 100 years of service through testimonials and anecdotes.

•On Sunday, November 13, the Centennial Celebration will culminate with a brunch, also at the Marriott, beginning at 11 AM. Members will offer final words of praise and gratitude while looking forward to the second century.

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