By Ed Runyan
The Youngstown Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which celebrated its 100th anniversary as an organization Friday night, is dedicated to confronting the challenges of blacks.
It’s a worldwide organization that this year is celebrating the 22 college women at Howard University in Atlanta who in 1913 participated in the women’s suffrage march in Washington, D.C.
Delta Sigma Theta was incorporated in 1930 and has continued to work as a public service organization focused on economic and educational development, international and political awareness and involvement, and physical and mental health.
What it is not, said member E. Nikki Davis, is what many people think of as a sorority — female college students.
The organization does have a collegiate chapter at Youngstown State University, called Zeta Gamma.
But the group that met Friday at Mahoning Country Club was the graduate chapter, composed of about 40 women who came from a variety of colleges and universities.
Davis, for instance, a former MYCAP Head Start employee for 34 years, has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta for 52 years and attended Tennessee State University.
Eugenia Atkinson, former director of the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority, has been a member 21 years.
And Germaine Bennett, former assistant to the superintendent of Youngstown City Schools, has been a member 44 years.
Michelle J. McCollin, an associate professor at Slippery Rock University who trains special education teachers and is the group’s president for 2013, said her vision for her two-year term is education.
One way the group addresses education is through Financial Fortitude workshops for young people to help them learn how to get financial aid for college, she said.
Other priorities are to make people aware of housing options and make women aware of entrepreneurial opportunities, she said.
The women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority were the only black women to participate in the women’s suffrage march, McCollin said.
“I think that marks the premise of what we do,” she said.
The group on Friday recognized its five scholarship recipients — Shienne Williams of Youngstown Early College High School, who is attending YSU; Aaron Battee of Boardman High School, who is attending Ohio State University; Jaran Lard of Warren G. Harding High School, who is attending Ohio State University; Brandon Flanagan of Warren G. Harding High School, who is attending YSU; and Briana Carter of New Castle High School, who is attending California University of Pennsylvania.
The Youngstown chapter, which was created in 1951, serves the Mahoning, Trumbull and Lawrence County areas. Its new first vice president is Quiana S. Faison.