VOL. 133 | NO. 102 | Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Local Links Chapter Celebrates 25th Anniversary
By Michael Waddell
Friendship and service to the community and each other were celebrated Saturday, May 19, as the River City (TN) Chapter of The Links Inc. marked its 25th anniversary with a special event at the National Civil Rights Museum.
The festivities included the unveiling of the newest edition of the chapter’s history book.
The Links is one of the nation’s oldest and largest African-American women’s volunteer service organizations.
Left to right: The River City (TN) Chapter of The Links members Lashell Vaughn; Kasia Alexander; president Ailene Booker; Links Inc. 19th central area director Glenda Masingale Manson; 14th central area director Dr. Delores Henderson; Dr. Inetta Rogers; Emma Jean Stotts; Marilyn Evans; and Shirley Cobbins. (Submitted)
“As the area director of over 70 chapters in 15 states with more than 3,000 members, this area has a special place in my heart,” said The Links central area director Glenda Masingale Manson of Illinois who came for the event. “I commend the River City Links, (they) are women to contend with.”
Growing from an original group of 21 women to more than 70 members today, the invitation-only chapter includes professional women of color who serve as community role models, mentors, activists and volunteers. During the past 25 years, they have addressed the five program facets of the organization: The arts, services to youth, international trends and services, national trends and services, and health and human services.
“The exciting thing for me is I see it as an opportunity to work with friends, people you know who are like-minded,” said The Links River City Chapter chair Dr. Inetta Rogers, who works as Salvation Army human resources director and is an ordained minister with Grace Missionary Baptist Church. “We make up a beautiful mosaic picture of what we have to offer. Each piece, although different and diverse, comes together, and that’s how we impact the Memphis community.”
Five local organizations the River City chapter has primarily worked with over the years – raising more than $250,000 for – are LeMoyne-Owen College, the National Civil Rights Museum, Hattiloo Theatre, the Journey to Jamaica and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Dr. Elma H. Mardis and Emma Jean Stotts organized a service organization called River City Sette in the fall of 1987, with 30 women of diverse backgrounds, interests and talents joining forces to help underprivileged youth in the greater Memphis community.
“What piqued my interest was that it was going to be services to youth,” said River City chapter charter member Shirley P. Cobbins. “I wanted to make sure that other youth had the same advantages that my children had in being exposed to different things in the community and helping them to grow and prosper.”
Then in May 1993 at The Peabody hotel, the group was officially designated as a Links chapter.
“When I was coming up, The Links were in the community doing things for people, and my parents raised us to always be looking out for your fellow man,” Stotts said. “So I decided that this could be a way that we could bond with the community and do some good things for the boys and girls that were being left out.”
To highlight the occasion, the second edition of the Links River City Chapter’s history book was on display and given as a gift to all members. The first edition was published in 2011.
This year, Links members have plans to support more important projects.
“This year we will continue to build on our HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) initiative and on voter collaboration,” said River City chapter president Ailene Oliver Booker, community resources analyst for Memphis Public Libraries. “Also, we have a Links to Success Girls Academy that will have another class forming and then graduating in December.”
Recently, The Links Foundation awarded a $1 million Legacy Grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to fight sickle cell disease.
The River City chapter is one of three Links chapters in the Mid-South, collectively known as the Bluff City Cluster. The Links touts 270 chapters in 41 states, as well as the Bahamas. A new chapter will open in London, England, later this year.
“If you want to find people who are civic and government leaders, who are community servants, who understand the needs of the community and, more than anything, want to do something about it … those are the people that The Links look to and the people who want to be a part of the membership,” said Links River City chapter member Rose J. Flenorl.