About 50 people gathered at Golden Corral Buffet in Williamsburg on Aug. 4 to watch five college-bound students receive five Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. scholarships worth $1,000 each.
For the Zeta Mu Mu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Williamsburg Area Foundation for Education and Community Outreach (WAFECO), this was their 1st Annual Scholarship Banquet. WAFECO is the Chapter’s proud non-profit extension that assists with fund-raiser development, requesting funds from companies/organizations, and offers tax benefits to donors.
Zeta Mu Mu Chapter has awarded scholarships to high school seniors since 2010. Specifically, it has awarded two scholarships worth $500 each since 2010. This means it awarded its first (two) annual scholarships about two years after it held its first organizational meeting at The College of William and Mary on April 3, 2008.
“For this chapter, this is a huge step,” said Jesse Jones, referring to the recent banquet and the five $1,000 scholarships. “We have progressively made a difference in the lives of college bound students,” said Jones who has been a member since 2014. He is a 2010 graduate of Randolph Macon College, and a behavioral counselor.
Dr. Henry Ranger, President of WAFECO, also expressed his joy in the accomplishment of this banquet and the significant role it plays in the growth of the Omega Psi Phi presence in the area at large.
Jones pointed to specific examples of prior scholarship awardees such as one recipient who went to Virginia State University, graduated, and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Maryland. Another recipient, enrolled in Christopher Newport College, played football, and said he bought a laptop with his scholarship.
This year’s scholarship recipients are headed to North Carolina Central University, Averett University, Radford University, and Liberty University.
“This year we impacted even more lives because we were able to give out more scholarships at a higher monetary value,” Jones added. “As our organization has grown, we have done more. Our initial goal was to award just two $1000 scholarships.”
Launched a decade ago to serve Omegas in Williamsburg and the surrounding area, the fraternity began with 17 members and now has about 40 members.
It is a busy fraternity. Whether it is the mentoring program that the Omegas participate in by partnering with the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, or its annual Mardi Gras that helps to raise scholarship funds, its service footprint continues to expand.
According to its website, frat members also participate in the Relay for Life Walk for Cancer. Omegas also take youngsters on numerous outings including bowling, basketball, and games at The College of William and Mary.
“Being an Omega has given me a sense of purpose,” Jones said. “It empowers me when I am around other members because we are the type of people who like to get things done. It seems like our members are men who take life very seriously. We understand we have a responsibility to others. Being an Omega gives me hope. It’s good to have hope.”
Cameron Mix, Basileus of the Zeta Mu Mu Chapter, shared that with the increase in chapter membership, dedication, and overall commitment there has been an positive shift in the group’s ability to provide more opportunities to young people in the community.
Dr. Henry Ranger, President of WAFECO, reported that there are already plans for future fundraisers that will hopefully assist even more students in years to come.
Dr. Stanley Jones, guest speaker and Superintendent of Danville Public Schools, offered words of encouragement and inspiration as he challenged the scholarship winners to “set achievable goals” and “align focus with commitment.”
To qualify students were required to complete a rigorous application process that included an essay and interview.
The Zeta Mu Mu Chapter and WAFECO made the following awards: Isiah Gist (North Carolina Central University), Chase Greene (Shenandoah University), Edward Hopson (Averett University), Chase McBurnette (Radford University), and Leon Wilson Jr. (Liberty University).
The fraternity’s officers are on its website: Cameron Mix is the basileus. Ralph Williams is vice basileus. Andrew Innis is second vice basileus. Rashad Joyner is keeper of records and seals. Robert Baugh is keeper of finance. Tai Newsome is the chaplain.
By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide