Chapter History

Iota Iota Omega Chapter History  

Iota Iota Omega Chapter of Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, Michigan, located in the Great Lakes Region was chartered on October 7, 1972. Eight bold and courageous sorority sisters had a vision to start a local chapter. They met as an interest group at the home of Soror Ora Sanders in St. Joseph, Michigan, and decided to search nearby communities for other sorority sisters. Nine months later, the group, which had now grown to fifteen, met on January 31, 1972, and renewed their sisterly pledge. This interest group was known as the Ivines. Soror Linda Riley was selected as their leader and they set meeting dates and made financial commitments. The Ivines objective was to become recognized as a local chapter of the National Organization of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® and to be a “service to all mankind.”

On October 7, 1972, one o’clock in the afternoon, the Iota Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® was chartered by the wonderful and vivacious Great Lakes Regional Director, Soror Eva Evans of Lansing, Michigan. The installation ceremony was held at the Lakeshore Club House in St. Joseph, Michigan. Following the Ceremony, an elaborate meal catered by the Southwestern Canteen Service of Benton Harbor was served. A Pink Ice and Pearls Ball held at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Benton Harbor, Michigan, climaxed this wonderful and historical event.

The chapter charter members are – Kay Alford, Pearl Blaylock, Bettye Clark, Joyce Hunter, Jackie James, Carolyn Jones, Hazel May, Brenda Pennix, Linda Riley, Patricia Robinson, Ora Sanders, Ida Sledge, Sandra Stewart, Inez Waddell, and Rosien Weatherford.

Since Iota Iota Omega’s chartering date, the chapter grew from fifteen to forty-two hardworking diligent, loyal Christian women who were very much aware of the sisterhood and what it meant to be a “Soror.”

Being located in a small southwestern Michigan community, there was a great need for cultural activities for African American high school girls. With several of the members being classroom teachers, they organized a teen group called the Ivy Teens in 1988. Their motto – “As the rosebud unfolds, so shall I pattern my life.” It was a huge success and is still thriving with as many as twenty-five girls in the program. 

In 1989, Iota Iota Omega launched its first Cotillion at the Ramada Inn in Benton Harbor, Michigan with six young ladies with the theme Giving You the Best That I’ve Got. The Cotillion grew rapidly moving from six girls at Ramada Inn to fourteen young ladies at Lake Michigan College Mendel Center in 1992. The success of the Cotillion became their Signature Program and the main source to finance their scholarship program for graduating female high school seniors. The Chapter awarded over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in scholarships.

Iota Iota Omega hosted the 23rd Michigan Cluster on October 16 – 17, 1998. The theme was “Pearls of Wisdom: Blazing New Trails in Alpha Kappa Alpha.”

In 2010, Iota Iota Omega launched the Real Men Wear Pink initiative to recognize outstanding African American men in the Benton Harbor/Saint Joseph community. The purpose was to highlight and honor those men who were doing positive and impactful things in the community – AKA Salute to Excellence. Six celebrations were held that honored sixty-seven men.

Iota Iota Omega, in collaboration with the REACH Foundation (Reaching Excellence Through Academic and Challenging Heights), was granted its 501(c)3 status on March 9, 2018. The mission of the Foundation is to promote Education, Health, Family, Global Outreach and the Arts by sponsoring events, scholarships and initiatives to support and/or fund programs with the Iota Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


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