In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorority sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s Suffolk Alumnae Chapter in Suffolk and did an interview with Belinda S. Pitts the President of the chapter.
The position of president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Pitts, who works as a Medical Billing Office Administrator, has been in the position of president for 1 year.
We interviewed Pitts, who is a Spring 2018 Suffolk Alumnae Chapter initiate and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?
In the past five years of being an active and dedicated member of the Suffolk Alumnae Chapter I matured personally and spiritually. My motivation to take on the role of alumnae chapter president came from my desire to evolve the chapter into doing more for the community in which we serve. Having a seat at the table allows me to build upon the excellent work that the previous administration had begun by collaborating with other community partners, giving the chapter more exposure to our citizens and allowing us to offer more innovative projects. I saw an opportunity to be more supportive, inspirational, and empowering to our women and young girls.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?
Our Chapter’s programming is very active and strategic, which is why we have a Regional Award-winning Arts and Letters Program and a National Award-winning Physical and Mental Health Program. Each committee has a full calendar of events; however, I will only list a few of our programs here:
1. Uniquely Prepared Students (UPS) workshop series-The Suffolk Alumnae Chapter (SAC) is interested in equity and opportunity for students with challenges. Often an overlooked and underserved group in society, students with learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and physical challenges have questions and concerns that cannot be addressed adequately in typical college fairs. We will assemble a sampling of colleges and training programs, and professionals that have invested significantly in excellent support for students with these challenges that go above and beyond federal requirements. We will focus on three primary campus experiences college students need to be prepared for. We want to make it easy for families to get that information and meet representatives.
2. Physical and Mental Health Community Health Fair- This event will offer free services to attendees while also highlighting a variety of different vendors from the community. This event offers the opportunity to help empower citizens and introduce them to community resources that they otherwise may not know about. Offering a variety of health screenings in one location at no cost will certainly help with decreasing morbidity because we are providing education and directing citizens on how to get adequate healthcare.
3. Youth Initiatives- Led by a team of educators with a committee of sorors who want to enhance the lives of our youth by encouraging them to be innovative, creative, successful, engaged and involved, Suffolk Alumnae is geared up to offer three youth initiatives, Delta Gems, Delta Academy and EMBODI.
4. Financial Fortitude- Our Economic Development committee will be focusing on empowering women. A series of financial workshops will be held virtual as well as in person to reach women of every demographic and class. The purpose is to improve financial literacy in our community.
5. Social Action- Our Social Action Committee is fired up and ready to work on the front line. This committee will continue to promote Candidate Forums, National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, Voter Registration Drives, Voter Restoration and Get Out to Vote Events.
What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
God revealed to me a long time ago that my purpose is to serve, which is what I do in my church, my home, my career, my community and in any environment that I find myself in. My research of Delta Sigma Theta showed that this organization was founded by women with the desire to not only socialize in their community, but to serve in their community. The founders wanted to bring women together as sisters, while addressing issues that black women were confronted with. I’ve had to confront some issues and wish I had sisters like these of Delta Sigma Theta who could have confronted them with me. Raised as an only child, I didn’t experience a blood sister bond. The positive to joining a sisterhood rather than being born into one, is that you know that these sisters have the same values, character, ethics, and desires in their heart as you. We may not be able to change society, but we have a lifetime to change individuals. These are the reasons I wanted to join Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
As a soror in the chapter often says, ‘We do the heart work”. Suffolk Alumnae does activities that are out of the box and will have the greatest impact on our community. We do not want to be part of the environmental bandwagon. We evaluate our community, access the needs, and then come to the table to see how we can help. If everyone is already doing it, then that need is being met and we can put our resources into something else.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Providing for the undergraduate chapters is an area the chapter will be increasing in during the upcoming sorority year. Our plan is to develop a program that will create a bond with the collegiates and the alumnae. This bond will hopefully be a segue for collegiates to transition to grad-chapter without any interruption of membership. We currently do not support just one undergraduate chapter, but when called on, no matter what service area the chapter is in, we support each by either making financial donations to their cause collectively or individually.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
For the chapter, I chose Moving Forward to L.I.V.E. (Love Legitimately, Inspire Immensely, Vocalize Victoriously and Evolve Ethically) in Sisterhood. As the president, it is my responsibility to set the tone for the Chapter, by making negativity, and divisiveness unpopular. My strategy is to always lead with love, understanding and fairness. I may not always make the right decision, but I will always try. The Chapter’s theme has remained in the forefront and with that sorors surpassed what I imagined it could look like. I have seen the Chapter not only L.I.V.E. but evolve into something greater. Greatness comes in many forms. It comes through love, persistence, open mindedness, clear vision and a willingness to listen and learn. We are not perfect but if you come to Suffolk Alumnae you will certainly feel the unity and the love.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
My advice to anyone aspiring to be in leadership is to always be willing to follow as well as lead. Aristotle said, “He who cannot be a good follower, cannot be a good leader” You want your members to see you as ‘one of us’. Which means you must be willing to work alongside members and not expect them to do something that you are not willing to do.
How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today? Are there any specific people in your org who have made a significant impact on your life as mentors?
Serving the community alongside some of the most revered women in the city of Suffolk has been both rewarding and humbling. I am mentored by a judge, a nurse, a lawyer, doctors, educators, and a host of educated women from many disciplines. I thrive on sitting underneath those who came before me and those who don’t mind investing their time and knowledge into me. These are the ones who I know intercede to God on my behalf. One of the most significant, who I admire immensely, is my Assistant Pastor and soror, Rev. Betty Montgomery. She reminded me to believe in myself, speak boldly, and work to my fullest potential. I consider her my spiritual advisor. Honestly, if, when asked, she had not told me that she saw the presidency in my future, I may not be the Chapter President today.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black Greedom because of its commitment to its mission. Telling the stories of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the community by channeling it through networks whose primary focus is the Black community, helps to shape the culture and positive opinions of Black greedom.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
I love being a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority because of the rewarding feeling I get when I am serving my community by helping my people grow and become empowered. I love the camaraderie and the oneness.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood, to me, is the state of physically and mental being in a relationship with other women that requires you to display commitment, love, protection, dedication, compassion and empathy.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Belinda S. Pitts for her work as the President of the Suffolk Alumnae Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1964.
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