Within The New York Alumni Chapter, we strive to maintain compliance with our National Guide Right initiatives, and whenever possible, we create activities and opportunities to enrich the lives of our youth wherever we may find them. At the end of this submission period, we have come off the heels of restructuring our Kappa League Program where we have taken our students to take place in S.T.E.M. programs, and maintained other initiatives such as The Student of the Year Pageant in which we will be sending a contestant to the Province Level, EMBODI – a black male awareness initiative that we co sponsor with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and The P.S. 84 Step Loud – Step Proud Program That has been spearheaded by our very own George Rodriguez, who was mentioned in the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal this past summer for his efforts. We also offer our participants special field trips and opportunities to enrich their personal experiences and make them socially aware of the community that they are a part of. Currently, the Guide Right Committee oversees five programs; Kappa League, EMBODI, P.S. 92, Step Loud, Step Proud, The Student of the Year Pageant, and Blue Nile Rites of Passage. Kappa League
In 2013, Shamel Duncan was elected Chairmen of the Guide Right Committee. Brother Duncan came in with three goals; Strengthen and increase the Guide Right Committee, improve the effectiveness of all five programs and create and sustain an operational budget. The first program he would begin working on was the Kappa League program. Realizing the need to restructure the program, the committee spent one year evaluating the program effectiveness and developing and new Kappa League program.
During the summer of 2014, positions were filled, literature was created or updated, a calendar was created, and the committee was in contact and visited five schools recruiting young men for the new and improved Kappa League program.
On Saturday, October 4th, 2014, Kappa League relaunched with its Kick-Off Orientation held at the New York Alumni Kappa Kastle. During this orientation, members of the New York Alumni Chapter, Kappa Leaguers, and parents introduced themselves. The calendar was introduced and brothers led icebreaker activities for both parents and Kappa Leaguers to get everyone acquainted with each other. Twelve young men were orientated into the Kappa League program.
On Saturday, October 18th, 2014, the very first session was facilitated by Irvin Crusoe, Assistant Principal at Public School 206. Tackling the very first Kappa League Phase; Self Identity, Bro. Crusoe led a session titled; “Who am I”. Within this session, Bro. Crusoe challenged Kappa Leaguers to think about how one becomes successfully. Kappa Leaguers then broke out into small groups and members of the Guide Right Committee join a group and led a discussion. Afterwards, everyone joined together and concluded the session. Bro. Crusoe left the Kappa Leaguers with two thoughts; Success can be determined by how disciplined you are and Discipline can be determined by the habits you create.
Kappa League Director, Juan Royal, presided over the session and thanked Bro. Crusoe for a great session and for charging our youth to consider discipline before thinking about success.
Children in the Harlem community don’t look forward to Halloween every year to go trick-ortreating. Instead, their minds are set on something more exciting. Something that only takes place at 472 W. 141st street. And that would be none other than New York Alumni’s Haunted House at the Kappa Kastle.
A Safe Haven on Halloween
On Friday, October 31st, 2014, Hundreds of children and parents came out to take part in what has become one of NYA’s annual signature events. In fact, there was a line of people that extended down the street and wrapped around the block. But despite the large number of people in attendance, all who desired to walk the decorated halls of the Kastle, were able to do so. Many brothers from the chapter came out to not only help setup, but also work the event. Every floor of the Kastle was setup with different Halloween decorations.
“The Halloween Haunted House serves as a Safe Haven for our youth in the community. It provides a fun alternative to walking the dangerous neighborhood trick or treating. That’s why I constantly support this event every way I can.”
Brothers were dressed as goblins throughout the house, popping out of corners and spooking children as they walked through the haunted maze. Even our Kappa Leaguers was dressed up as props to assist the members of the New York Alumni Chapter. It was truly a great evening and many of the children and parents who attended didn’t leave without extending their thanks to the chapter. Bags of candy were given to all the youth in attendance. They also mentioned their anticipation for returning next year. This particular event has always been important to the chapter because it’s an opportunity to give the children and members of this community a unique experience that they can cherish for a lifetime. That has always been the chapter’s mission, and we look forward to upholding that commitment every year.
How to Make it Home When Stopped by the Police
The recent deaths of unarmed African American men by white police officers caused us to pay more attention to the racial divide in this country. Mike Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio and one closest to home, Eric Garner of Staten Island all fell victim to this racial divide. As these issues festered within the African American community, Grand Juries decided not to indict officers who were responsible for these killings.
With this in mind, the next session topic for Kappa League was Awareness and Appearance. This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. On Saturday, December 6th, 2014, Kappa Leaguers assembled at the Kappa Kastle for their regular scheduled Kappa League meeting. This week’s session topic was, “How to Make it Home When Stopped by the Police”. Guy Mitchell, Assistant Attorney General In Charge, served as the guest presenter for the day. During this session, Brother Mitchell discussed the importance of obeying the officer and about his experiences with officers within his role as a prosecutor. As a minor, Brother Mitchell maintains, you do not have to answer any question. Make sure you always have ID on your person and make sure you don’t run. Don’t reach for anything and do not talk back. Police officers are not lawyers or judges; their job is to bring in individuals if they have probable cause.
Brother Mitchell also focused on appearance. He informed Kappa Leaguers to be mindful of how they present themselves and watch the people that they are involved with. He also noted that, clothing and being in large groups draws attention to you thus increasing the chance of being stopped by the police.
Brother Mitchell concluded the session acknowledging the fact that although our youth may follow these steps, there is still a high chance they will be stopped by the police so the key thing to remember is to state that you are a minor and if and when they arrive to the police station, state that you are a minor again. This will allow you to have witnesses. Kappa Leaguers were able to ask questions based on things that had already happened and discussed how they would approach the situation if it had happened again.
Brother Mitchell is a highly decorated Attorney for the Harlem Regional Office. Brother Mitchell has recently been appointed as a judge by Mayor, Bill De Blasio. In his new role, Brother Mitchell will be responsible for arraignment, court calendars, hearings, trials and issuing court decisions.
Honoring the Legacy of King
On Monday, January 19th, 2015, the Harlem Kappa League attended The 17th Annual Commemoration and Youth program honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Held at Abyssinian Baptist Church; this was a fun-fulfilled day of workshops, a keynote message and a viewing of the Oscar Nominated film, Selma. The day began with breakfast. Youth from all over the Island of Manhattan; schools, youth organizations, and church all joined together for a morning of fellowship before the program began. Following breakfast were two workshops, one featured our very own, Blue Nile Rites of Passage. Members of this program created a skit centered on conflict management which served as a segue into the workshop’s topic; Utilizing Conflict Management Skills at School. Members of Blue Nile imparted knowledge on their peers addressing the widespread of issues they encounter in schools. Afterwards, attendees, youth and adults asked questions seeking advice on past and current issues they experienced. The Keynote speaker for the day was Morehouse graduate, Reverend Rashad R. Moore, Abyssinian ministerial intern. Keeping Martin Luther King, Jr. at the forefront of his message, Reverend Moore highlighted growing up in a “Traumatic Community” He stated, “what some communities call traumatic, we call it everyday living however, it’s hurting our communities.” No child should have to live in a neighborhood where there are candles lining the sidewalk week after week.” He stated, “It is traumatic for a child to grow up in a world where they are constantly loosing friends to guns.” Reverend Moore also referenced the death of Eric Garner. He stated that it is traumatic for a child to see a video of a man choked to death by a NYC Police Officer over and over and over again is traumatic. Reverend Moore then asked a question. What does this do to the mind of an African American? He stated that it seems to erode a sense of meaningful existence. He stated that this causes people to think, is there any purpose for living. He stated that when you began to question your purpose for living and when there is no hope, there is nothing left. Many African American felt this way during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Reverend Moore stated he believed Dr. King was prepared from birth to lead this movement. Reverend Moore maintains, Dr. King carried the memories of his father being in a shoe store and refusing to serve him because he was black and the memories of Benjamin E. Mayes, former President of Morehouse, who told his students, “You may be segregated, you may have to sit at the back of the bus, but your mind does not have to sit back there. King also complained that we rarely see persons in their true humanity stated Reverend Moore. He continued on stating, “Too often, we drive through life with a limited vision, without our corrective lenses. He stated that’s what made Dr. King strong. He recognized that we are all children of God and we must never forget that. Reverend Moore challenged everyone to be more like Dr. King and “See people! Not their circumstances, not their conditions, not their history but see people for who they are.
One of the areas that we strengthen was the mentorship component of Kappa League. We wanted to ensure that all of our mentors were able and willing to have an impact in a Kappa Leaguer’s life by providing direction, motivation, support and education. We encouraged all of our mentors to spend time with their mentee to forge a relationship. Some examples consist of attending extra-curricular activities, visiting a museum or just going out for a slice of pizza. There are several group outings coordinated by the committee to bring mentors and mentees together. On Saturday, January 10th, 2015, we kicked-off our first outing with the Kappa Leaguers. Mentors and mentees engaged in friendly competition as they took it to the court for the first annual Mentors vs. Mentee basketball game. The Kappa Leaguers walked away with a win and bragging rights. On Saturday, January 17th, 2015, Kappa Leaguers took a trip to New Roc City for a day of fun-filled activities. In order to ensure that all Kappa Leaguers were able to attend, this event was sponsored by the Guide Right Committee. The Kappa Leaguers thoroughly enjoyed themselves and one Kappa Leaguer stated, “This is the first time that I’ve been a part of a program where I’m learning and having fun” As brothers, we understand that there is life outside of the Kappa Kastle and we want our Kappa Leaguers to understand the same. On Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, the Kappa Leaguers were fortunate to attend the Hard 2 Guard Celebrity Basketball Games which took place at Baruch College. Brother Pierre Leveaux, Epsilon Kappa Spr. 2001 sponsored ten tickets which covered all of our Kappa Leaguers. Mentors purchased tickets to the game and attended with their mentee. Kappa Leaguers met and took pictures with celebrities such as; Fat Joe, Jadakiss Troy Ave, and former New York Knicks Point Guard, John Starks. The Kappa Leaguers expressed their thanks and appreciation which was passed along to Brother Leveaux.
Embodi – As Brisk Hike
New York City is known as the Concrete Jungle however, that does not mean our youth shouldn’t be able to experience the outdoors. With Spring Fever in full effect, a brisk hike was the perfect activity for April! On Saturday, April 26th, 2014, led by Brother Jackson, the EMBODI program took the youth to Van Cortlandt Park for an educational day amongst nature. Volunteers created games for the youth to play while walking the trail. They also had youth looking for signs of wildlife and attempting to identify the various birds. While hiking, youth were provided healthy snacks and beverages to keep them fueled and hydrated. Youth also learned the importance of leaving a place cleaner than you found it or as the called it Leave no Trace! Youth ensured that all trash was collected and disposed of properly. All of the boys enjoyed their time away and expressed interest in returning next year.
It’s never too early to learn about business and enterprise, to learn how to manage money or to open and manage a savings account. On Saturday, May 10th, 2014, we collaborated with the Economic Develop Committee of Delta Sigma Theta to bring a very special introductory financial session to the EMBODI youth. The boys learned important checking and savings information and even pretended to be Michael Jordan, devising a way to make money from selling sneakers! The boys also learned the benefits of becoming an entrepreneur. One benefit that we highlighted was the ability to create your own opportunities and destiny. This is done through attending conventions and networking with like-minded people.