Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. High Desert Alumnae Chapter History
In 200l, the journey to become the High Desert Alumnae Chapter was envisioned by Soror Roxanne Young. Soror Young pledged Delta Sigma Theta's San Bernardino-Riverside Alumnae Chapter (SBRAC) in 1995. She sought out and inspired inactive Sorors in the High Desert to collectively pursue chartering a Delta Chapter to end the long drives to the Inland Empire. Though this task seemed daunting, a determined and optimistic Soror Young opened her home to host meetings and discuss what needed to be done. Meetings were also held at local restaurants in the High Desert so that inactive Sorors and SBRAC members might get acquainted. As a result, many of those Sorors were reclaimed, joining SBRAC and traveling to San Bernardino for Delta meetings.
As SBRAC Second Vice-President, Soror Young organized Victorville's first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Peace March in January, 2003. The High Desert community was so supportive, Sorors realized that there were unmet needs in this region. With support from SBRAC, subsequent successful Peace Marches were held in Victorville in 2004 and 2006.
As the High Desert population grew, Soror Shirley Gaines, a charter member of the Palo Verdes/Rolling Hills Alumnae Chapter, moved to the area in 2004. She was a seasoned and committed Soror, who had years of experience working in the Sorority in various positions and the knowledge of chartering chapters. Soror Gaines was truly a Godsend to the High Desert. With her expertise, she took the lead in our continued quest to become chartered. After several calls and letters of communication with our Regional officers expressing our desire to start our own Chapter, we began having interest group meetings at Soror Gaines' home in January 2006. Our efforts were supported by our SBRAC sisters who offered us prayers, love and their assistance.
Sorors Mary L. Batiste and Donna Smith attended meetings at Soror Gaines' home to advise us on chartering procedures. Sorors Elaine James, Essie Jefferies, Cherise Moore, Susan Price and Gloria Williams also traveled to the High Desert to participate in workshops to facilitate our chartering. After several months of preparation, fourteen women were initiated into the High Desert Alumnae Chapter on September 17, 2006. The chartering ceremony was conducted by Far West Regional Director Tressa Williams and Far West Regional Representative, September Hargrove at Emmanuel Temple C.M.E. Church in Victorville, California.
The first official meeting of High Desert Alumnae Chapter (HDAC) was held immediately following the chartering ceremony. With Regional Director, Tressa Williams, presiding, the following officers were elected: President, Shirley Gaines; Vice-President, LaChelle Franklin; Recording Secretary, Llawanna Carroll; Corresponding Secretary, Rosemary Day; Treasurer, Yemela Bell-Gomez and Financial Secretary, Elise Brown.
HDAC immediately began working to positively impact the community by participating in National Young Readers Day as Celebrity Readers; making donations to support Alpha Connection Group Homes and coordinating the Blood of the Martyrs Blood Drive. Responding to a need to promote academic achievement for African-American students, HDAC facilitated a presentation for community leaders and educators seeking to develop a Young Black Scholars program in the High Desert. The chapter also sponsored a College Can Happen for Everyone workshop at a local high school. In 2007, HDAC implemented a Delta Academy/Delta G.E.M.S. program with over thirty girls. Sorors accompanied these students to College Expo as well as and Youth Day at the Capitol in Sacramento. They also participated in SEE activities, Book Club discussions, Kwanzaa, and other community events.
We have provided scholarships for several High Desert students, conducted voter registration drives and continued sponsoring the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace March. As we progress and grow, we are constantly working to implement Delta's goal of empowering our communities through committed service.