On Sunday, Epsilon Psi Omega, Grambling’s graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., presented its 102nd Founders’ Day Observance. The program was held in Grambling State University’s School of Nursing Auditorium.The theme for the observance was Ordinary People Doing Extra-Ordinary Things, which was befitting since community service awards were given to Valena P. Lane and William J. Rutledge.
After Rosena Bowman’s meditation, Annie Hamlin, the chapter’s president, said Lane and Rutledge were selected because of their service in the community. “This is service to all mankind, and this is what we do,” she said.
The AKA Chorale, directed by Betty W. Hawthorne, sang “Total Praise”. Then Joyce Miles recognized the past and present presidents of the chapter.
Dr. Sarah Dennis and Debra Minnifield presented the honorees and service awards.
Lane, who was born and reared in Mansfield, now resides in Grambling with her husband Lawrence. She worked with the housing authority for 20 years and taught music in Lincoln Parish for 20 years.
She said of the recognition, “To God be the glory. I give him all the praise. It is just wonderful. I was overwhelmed, but it was great.”
Some of her volunteer services include co-coordinating KGRM’s Season of Giving program, volunteering her time to help transport adults and children to Sunday school and church at New Rocky Valley Baptist Church, and encouraging others to get out and vote.
New Orleans native Rutledge has been actively serving Grambling and surrounding areas since 1980, working with RSVP. For the first six years daily he called senior citizens in Ruston to check on them. For 20 years he tutored in elementary schools in Simsboro, Grambling and Choudrant.
For the last 15 years he has picked up newspapers from senior citizens’ yards and placed them in their doors. Also, he outs their trash cans out for pickups and replaces them under the carport after pickups. He helps to assemble and distribute toys during KGRM’s Season of Giving program.
Rutledge said, “I am appreciative and honored to have been selected for this award.” He and his wife Dr. Swedie Rutledge reside in Grambling.
While in Vietnam he was assigned to a civil affairs unit, and his job was to help people in the village. “We brought food to people and helped build roads and buildings. This is something close to my heart,” said the honoree.
Co-chair Marvis P. Anderson said that Lane is involved in programs just about everywhere in Grambling.
“People go to her for things other than service. She serves as a mother to many. We are proud to present both of them with our first service award.”
Duplantier, who also served as co-chair, said the program was very good. She said Lane and Rutledge have done so much for others. Duplantier sang “We Are So Grateful” to them.
She was glad people outside of her sorority were recognized. “It shows that we are about fellowship with the bonds of Greek organizations. It is not about us,” she said.
This bond was exemplified as Betty W. Hawthorne played the medleys of the other eight Black Greek sororities and fraternities in the order of the years they were founded. Dr. Mildred Gallot announced the years, and members of the other organizations stood while their medleys were played.
The active golden members of the sorority were recognized. They are Ruby W. Billups, Ruby Coleman, Gwendolyn Duplantier, Gallot, Hawthorne, Shirley Henderson, Mary Hobdy, Willie Bell Jackson, Mildred Moss, Swedie Rutledge and Barbara Terrell. These ladies have been members of the sorority for at least 50 years.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was the first black sorority. Founded in 1908 at Howard University, the sorority’s public motto is “service to all mankind.”
Grambling State University student Olivia Samuel said it commendable for the members to honor their founders every year. The Dominican native said it was heartwarming to see the active golden members going strong and volunteering.
“It shows how much they are committed to community service,” Samuel said.
She said honoring Lane and Rutledge shows how much the sorority pays attention to the people around them who give their time and felt it necessary to recognize them.