Gainesville Omegas earn Florida chapter of the year


Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.

The Beta Pi chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. in Gainesville was recently recognized as the Florida Statewide Organization 2012 Chapter of the Year mainly due to its Project Manhood 2015 mentoring program for male middle school students.

Beta Pi started Project Manhood — designed to help the students transition from boyhood to manhood and into a brighter future — last school year with boys who attend middle schools in Alachua County.

This year's program will kick off from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at Caring & Sharing Learning School at 1951 SE 4th St. Parents are encouraged to bring middle school boys to the session to get them involved in the program. The 14 young men who graduated from the program in June will now serve as team leaders to help mold the new students. Students in the program also are recommended by their school counselors.

The officers of the chapter are: Charlie Jackson, basileus, or president; Michael V. Bowie, vice basileus; Ernest Wilson, keeper of records and seals; Curtis Peterson, keeper of finance; Andre Daniels I, editor of The Oracle, the fraternity's national magazine, which is published quarterly, and Eugene Garvin, chaplain.

Basileus Jackson said the program really impressed the evaluation committee at the 38th Florida State Workshop held last month in Tampa.

"I really think what took our chapter over was our innovative Project Manhood program," Jackson said. "That is what really got the attention of our state and district as a whole."

This is the first time the Beta Pi chapter, which was established in 1972, has won the award.

Jackson said Beta Pi, which has roughly 30 members, won the award over nearly 40 other chapters in the state because, along with establishing Project Manhood, the chapter completed all of the fraternity's mandated programs, which shows a direct commitment to improving the community.

"I think this is an award that identifies brothers who have gone beyond the call of duty and have done what our four founding members asked us to do, and that is to engage and connect with our communities," said Jackson.

"Winning chapter of the year clearly defines that you have been evaluated by your peers and by the state organization, and based upon the things you are doing, you have clearly set the stage to spearhead the change that is needed in the community."

Rodney E. Rocker Sr. of Wildwood, the newly elected representative of the state organization, said the prestige that comes with winning the honor is immense.

"It's always an honor for any chapter to win the award," said Rocker. "It is very noteworthy that the evaluation committee deemed what Beta Pi is doing as very exemplary. All of our chapters are involved in our communities and making a difference in lives. It is just that what Beta Pi is doing is head and shoulders above the rest of the chapters."

Jackson said Beta Pi is very active in the community, and besides Project Manhood, the fraternity has an annual scholarship program, holds voter registration and NACCP drives and sponsors an annual Veterans Day breakfast.

He said the chapter also supports Strike Out Hunger, a food drive for the needy founded by former Alachua County Commissioner Rodney Long; the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida annual prayer breakfast and hall of fame banquet; the Ebony Appreciation Awards Committee annual banquet; the 5th Avenue Arts Festival and other programs sponsored by the Cultural Arts Coalition, and Breakfast on the Plaza, an annual event at the Bo Diddley Downtown Community Plaza, where a number of organizations feed the homeless and inform them about services available to them.

Omega Psi Phi fraternity was founded on Nov. 17, 1911, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., by three undergraduate students — Edgar Amos Love, Frank Coleman and Oscar James Cooper — and their faculty advisor, Dr. Ernest Everette Just.

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