August 2, 2015 – Fort Valley State University’s DeKalb Alumni Chapter is in the national spotlight for its outstanding efforts in supporting the university. The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame recently awarded the chapter its Fourth Annual Legacy Leaders Small Alumni Chapter of the Year Award. DeKalb chapter members will receive the honor during a Legacy of Leaders Alumni Awards Luncheon at noon, Friday, Sept. 25, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta.
The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. is an organization that encourages the development of HBCUs through scholarships, internships, training and technical assistance.
Melvin Smith, alumni chapter president from 2013 to June 2015, says the award is a significant honor.
“I’m ecstatic that as a president and leader that we received this award,” Smith said. “It shows the hard work and dedication of our members. They are resilient and give their all. They give up their time, sweat and money to the institution, and I feel like I am among MVPs. Our members have a passion for the university and are hard workers, and enjoy working together on various alumni projects. I am grateful to LouAnn Gross, our District 1 Representative, for her guidance and leadership. She encouraged me to become an active member of DeKalb Alumni Chapter. I have led other groups, but serving as the president of the DeKalb Alumni Association has been one of my most proudest accomplishments. I am eternally, humbly grateful.”
Under Smith’s tenure, the alumni chapter has kicked off several fundraisers to help support the university. One important initiative started by the group was “The Power of Seven” fundraiser. FVSU alums Wayne and Earline Pitts, who took a leap of faith, donated $700 to launch the fundraiser in January 2014. The campaign officially launched in February 2014.
“We wrote a letter, asking our members to donate $7 or multiples of seven,” Smith said. “We told our members that if they gave money, then our chapter would match their donation.”
The first “Power of Seven” campaign raised $6,000 in 2014. The second phase, which started in March 2015, has raised $7,600 to date, for a total of $13,600.
In December of 2014, the chapter launched Mr. Paul Robinson’s Birthday Challenge, which raised $8000. Alumni chapter members were asked to donate a minimum of $83 each. The chapter also holds an annual jazz brunch fundraiser for students that raises $7,500 each year. Also, the chapter has raised in excess of $5,000 each year from its annual candy sale fundraiser.
Additionally, the chapter was able to give back $25,000 to the school for book scholarships and donations to help programs that include the band, FVSU recruitment initiatives, the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program, the Honors Program, Athletics Program, the Baptist Student Union Organization, cheerleaders and other auxiliary organizations.
In addition to fundraising, the group also introduced its new mentoring program, W2W (Wildcat to Wildcat) Connections that is currently helping 18 FVSU students. The organization has a recruitment team that visits 20 high schools and college fairs to recruit students to the university. Furthermore, the chapter has partnered with the Atlanta area alumni chapter to sponsors bus trips to take students to FVSU for open houses and to visit the campus. Another initiative they hosted was the inaugural Annual Alumni Networking Event.
“At our next alumni chapter in August, I will pass the leadership torch to Beverly Townes, our newly elected president of the DeKalb Alumni Chapter,” Smith said. “Beverly plans to continue our mission of increasing alumni membership, recruiting and mentoring potential college students, and raising funds to give back to our beloved alma mater, Fort Valley State University. Jackie Robinson once stated, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.’ Therefore, our alumni chapter’s ultimate goal is making a difference in the lives of students at FVSU, who are our future leaders of tomorrow.”
In addition to the Awards Ceremony, Miss FVSU 2015-2016 Jessica Hatcher, a Valdosta native, will be participating in the NBCA Hall of Fame Queens Program during the weekend of Sept. 23 – 27.
The luncheon costs $65 per person, or $500 for a table of 10 people. The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Induction will also take place, later in the day, at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. Tickets cost $100 per person or $900 for a table of 10 people, which is $90 per person. To purchase tickets online, visit http://tinyurl.com/q534xcf.