Odelle Barnes Vera L. Greene
Norma E. Darden Dolores L. Hines
Marian L. Davis Rosa L. Williams
A Brief History: Founded 1940
The dream of establishing a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® in Wilson, NC had its origin in the mind of Mrs. Norma Darden during the late ’30s. As years passed, she decided to organize a chapter in Wilson. However, this was very difficult since she had to have at least seven members for the establishment of a chapter. After many years of searching for eligible ladies, her task was completed. On February 18, 1940, Gamma Beta Omega became a reality.
The first members were Norma Darden, Dolores Hines, Rosa L. Williams, Vera G. Shade, Peggy Cooper, Marian Davis, and Odelle Barnes. Sorority Sister, Norma Darden served as the first President. In 1941 the first members to be initiated into the chapter were Mae Lord, Cora Washington, and Marian H. Miller.
Gamma Beta Omega was represented for the first time at the Regional Conference in 1953. In 1962, Mrs. Odelle Barnes was the first delegate to be sent to the International Conference. Gamma Beta Omega was the recipient of the First Silver Bowl at the Regional Conference in Raleigh, NC presented by Ms. Zatella Turner, Regional Director in 1975.
Following the death of Mrs. Norma Darden, in 1987, Gamma Beta Omega purchased her home (which was named Gamma Beta Omega House) from her heirs. The house was later renamed The AKA Center for Community Services and has most recently been named for one of our charter members and the first member of our chapter (2007) to reach the status of Diamond, Ms. Odelle Whitehead Barnes. She was also a founder and charter member of the Alpha Chi Chapter at North Carolina Central University, (formally, North Carolina College) in 1932. The Odelle W. Barnes Center for Community Services is located at 108 N. Pender Street.
Since its inception in February 1940, Gamma Beta Omega continues to work with a broad range of service projects which promote and encourage social, economic, and political well-being throughout the Wilson and neighboring communities.
Some programs and services offered include sponsoring forums and workshops on building self-esteem, informing teens on health issues, providing counseling on college choices and financial aid, and providing canned goods and coats for the needy.
Scholarships, an integral part of the sorority’s programs, are made possible, for the most part, through a major fund-raising project, A PRINCESS BALL, which is held biennially. Our first Princess Ball was held in 1962. It has continued to be a success and now also includes “Precious Pearls” ages 8-10.
Through the Health Awareness Program, the sorority has sponsored workshops on AIDS and STD awareness in partnership with East Carolina University, participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Red Cross Blood Drive, and American Heart Association–Walk for Heart. The chapter has also worked with the Wilson County Health Department to sponsor immunization drives.
In keeping with our National Theme Service to All Mankind, we have endeavored to support the NAACP, UNCF, Wilson Education Partnership, The Arts Council of Wilson, Habitat for Humanity, Wilson Senior Citizens Center, Hope Station, the Wesley Shelter, Operation Care, and the East Branch Public Library. Additionally, the chapter has worked with elementary, middle, and high schools in Wilson County providing services ranging from fire extinguisher donations, “Wall of Books”, tutorial Reading and Enrichment and Activities Programs, national Partnerships in Math, and Science projects, and reading programs.
We have undertaken other projects, including, Historically Black College University Night (HBCU), Presidential Freedom Scholarship, and the continuation of the signature, county-wide annual Baccalaureate Service for graduating high school seniors.
Service to All Mankind will forever remain our focus.