Kameron Brackins, Tracee M. Fletcher and Janna Williams, members pose together for picture
Kameron Brackins, Tracee M. Fletcher and Janna Williams, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Houston Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter. Credit: Aswad Walker

Recently, members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Houston Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter chaperoned high school-aged young ladies who are members of their mentor program, the Delta GEMS during a community service outing.

“Every year we want to incorporate a community service component to our program,” Kameron Brackins DST HMAC member said. “So, this year, we’re here to give back to the community, to actually use our hands, get to work. We wanted to do something to give the girls the opportunity to interact, to meet other people who are out here in the community doing good things, and something where they can tangibly see the impact they’re making on our community.”

According to Brackins, GEMS stands for “growing and empowering myself successfully,” and the organization is helping empower participants in numerous ways.

“This year, we’ve done a lot of great activities with the girls. We attended the Dance Theatre of Harlem performance to expose them to Black culture and the Black arts. We had some speakers come from the Texas Workforce Commission to talk to the girls about the importance of planning for your career and the educational paths they may need to take. We focus on physical and mental health. So, we just really want to instill and empower girls to prepare them for the near future and for their long-term future to achieve their goals and to be the best young women they can be,” Brackins said.

The Delta GEMS is a national program, with local chapters, and works with young ladies ages 14-18 (high schoolers). The Deltas also have youth mentor programs for other age groups, and even one for young men.

“So, we have the Delta Academy which is geared towards our young ladies in middle school. And some (Delta) chapters have a program called Embody, which mentors young men.”

But it was the Delta GEMS who recently volunteered their service with One Mobile Food Pantry, founded by Richard Andrews, who had conversations with several people, including those at his home church, the Shrine, about founding a vehicle to provide food to those in need at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Those were the beginning days of us hosting the weekly mobile food pantry … So, we’re over three years now with the mobile pantry,” said Andrews, a Louisiana native who said he was taught at a young age to give back.

Andrews and his foundation are the ones responsible for the Houston Black Heritage Fest, which gives back by way of sharing family-friendly entertainment and events. But it’s the One Mobile Food Pantry that gives back in a different way, serving over 600 families every Saturday from 11am – 2pm at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural and Events Center, located at 5309 MLK Jr. Blvd, Houston, Texas 77021.

And giving back is one of the principles the Delta GEMS program seeks to instill in its members, according to DST HMAC member Janna Williams.

“Every year we have a group of girls and we try to instill principles in them that will set them up successfully for the future,” she said.

That sentiment was echoed by DST HMAC president Tracee M. Fletcher.

“The activity today, with the community service is really big because we are a community service-based organization,” Fletcher said. “Our foundation is social action. However, we are a public service sorority. So, we think it’s very important for the girls to understand that piece of what we do and what we’re built on.”

“It’s humbling to show so much love and support to those who are in need right now, because you never know when you’ll be in need. And we’re looking for all types of volunteers like the Deltas and the Delta GEMS: sororities, fraternities, Masons, Eastern Stars, businesses.

For more information on the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Houston Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter’s Delta GEMS visit https://hmacdelta.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=368075&module_id=263448.

For more information on the One Mobile Food Pantry visit their website www.HoustonBlackHeritageFest.com or go to their Facebook page, Houston Black Heritage Fest.

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...