08/28/14 — Fraternity celebrates 50 years of leadership

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Fraternity celebrates 50 years of leadership

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 28, 2014 1:46 PM

The Theta Omicron Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity recently celebrated 50 years of leadership and community service.

"We have been around 50 years and we hope to be around for another 50 years perhaps, but we are going to try to keep it going because we feel that we are doing some great things for the community," president John Stokes said.

The fraternity was organized on April 16, 1964 by a group of eight men who lived in Goldsboro. They were Patrick M. Best, Prince A. Best, Leslie Brinson, William Reinhardt, Orland R. Stovall, David Wyman, Earl Whitted Jr. and William West.

Two founding members survive, Dr. O.R. Stovall Jr. and Dr. Leslie Brinson, a professor at North Carolina Central University. Both attended the recent anniversary celebration.

Stokes joined after moving to Goldsboro in 1971 because he wanted to develop relationships with others in the community.

"This was a great opportunity for that to be realized," he said. "I became a member at that time, and we were about 20 strong. I enjoyed the relationships that we developed over the years."

The fraternity currently has 21 members, but over the years more than 150 men have been members.

"We are all throughout the community," Stokes said. "Most of our guys live in Goldsboro, some live in the county. One lives in Raleigh. One lives in Clinton."

The basic requirement to be a member is that a man has to be a college graduate and committed to mankind, he said. They also have to be recommended by someone who already is a member.

"We do community things, and we do participate in the Relay for Life," Stokes said. "We participate in the sickle cell (anemia) fund drive. We do other things in the community. We are partners with two schools, Charles B. Aycock High School and Dillard Middle School."

Members serve as role models and volunteer as mentors in the schools.

"We go there and tell kids there is a better way," Stokes said. "We let them know that life is about choices. You make the choices about what you want to do. Don't do those things that will make you a bad citizen.

"We have received some awards. In 2002 we received the Core Value Award for the city of Goldsboro for sponsoring a baseball team in the Jackie Robinson Baseball League. The team was undefeated."

Members conduct voter registration and voter education programs throughout the community, he said

But one of the things members are the most proud of is that the chapter's sponsorship of the Alpha Arms Apartments which is composed of 104 units.

"It gives low- and moderate-income citizens of Goldsboro and Wayne County a place to stay until they can do better," Stokes said. "So we are proud of that fact. Also, the fact that the complex has been around since 1973.

Just last year we completed a $5 million renovation of that facility. We are proud of that - the fact that we been able to stay around that long. "The other thing we are proud of is that we were a sponsor of the Miss Black Teenage World pageant years ago and the fact that we had the opportunity to be the sponsor of that, and we had a national winner. One of the ladies in the pageant started in Goldsboro and won the crown."

Stokes said since its organization 50 years ago, the chapter has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to local youths.

This past year it held a fundraiser at Applebee's where flapjacks were sold.

The chapter also hosts an annual scholarship fundraising dinner.

Alpha Arms, the chapter and its education foundation are all nonprofits.