The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority holds the distinction of being the first Greek letter organization established by African-American women. That was in 1908. The local chapter, Upsilon Kappa Omega was started on Dec. 1, 1996. In the 20 years since its inception, Upsilon Kappa Omega has worked tirelessly to make a difference in the community. On Saturday, April 16, the group is set to host An Evening at the Oscars. It is the group’s main fundraiser.

“The theme for the night is Evening at the Oscars, and we really want people to come out and enjoy the event. Our VIP sponsors can look forward to an area dedicated to them with hors d’oeuvres and drinks along with a private session with our featured musician, Marcus Anderson,” said Tracy Allen, UKO publicity and marketing representative. 

“In true Oscar night fashion, we will have gift bags and other Oscar-related things. We will also have a DJ to play between band sets. There will be dancing and networking. And of course, everyone will be dressed in their finest, which always makes for a fun evening.”

A night of lively jazz music and dancing, An Evening at the Oscars features the music of Marcus Anderson. A South Carolina native, Anderson has toured with Prince as a saxophonist for New Power Generation. He’s played prominent festivals including the Essence Music Festival, Monteux Jazz Festival and the Curacao North Seas Jazz Festival.  He’s known for great music, of course, but his stage presence and showmanship are what make his performances so special. Influenced by great musicians like Michael Jackson, James Brown and, of course, Prince, Anderson’s music is relatable and catchy.

Anderson’s repertoire includes R&B, pop, rock and funky grooves. His latest release, Style Meets Substance is his fifth solo effort. The 13-track album showcases his talent on the saxophone with sax melodies, jazz, funk and Latin sounds. The album also features collaborations with Morris Hayes and Nicholas Cole.

Guests at the event are in for a night of great music and fun, and while that is exactly what Upsilon Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated wants for the event, the proceeds go toward making a difference locally – all year long. 

With the motto “Service to All Mankind” serving as inspiration, the ladies of UKO are constantly seeking ways to make Fayetteville better. The group’s programs include areas like health, educational enrichment, strengthening the family, environmental ownership and global impact and are a direct result of the AKA’s focus on launching new dimensions of service. Because the UKO members believe so strongly in their vision to empower lives by acts of community through service, they work tirelessly to find ways to make a difference. And with nearly 100 members, the reach is significant and vast.

The group sponsors asthma camp and participates in Reading Rocks. The members collect back packs to give away to school students each year. UKO sponsors the Bicycle Man Giveaway, Shop with the Sheriff and the Lupus Walk. The members hold workshops to educate the public about human trafficking and ways to keep kids safe. They hold financial workshops on everything from how to bounce back from a bankruptcy to how to save money to how to purchase a home. They offer classes about mental health related issues like PTSD, depression and anxiety. They routinely team up with other organizations to feed and clothe the homeless, give them personal hygiene items, haircuts and more. The most recent event touched the lives of about 1,000 local homeless.

As the designated Fort Bragg Chapter, while UKO cares deeply for the community and everyone in it, Fort Bragg holds a special place in the group’s heart. “We go visit the VA home. A lot of the people there are  forgotten by their families,” said Allen. “We buy them games and hygiene items and spend time with them. We offer service to all, but without the military and vets we would not have our freedom. So it is important to us that we help military as much as we can - including spouses and families when their soldier is deployed.”

It is no secret that education is a great equalizer and with that in mind, UKO awards scholarships to students each year. The sorority recognizes “outstanding high-school seniors, already accepted by an accredited four-year college or university, who demonstrates high scholastic achievement; proven leadership; and, have
actively participated in community service.” 

Students from Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke and or Sampson counties are eligible to apply. This is a topic that is dear to many, including some sorority members. “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth but I knew I wanted to be successful. I ended up going in the military. I made a career of it and used my benefits to go college,” said Allen. “We want students to be successful. That is part of what this scholarship is about. We would love to eventually fund an entire year or even all 4 years of college for someone.” 

UKO goes beyond scholarships when it comes to working with youth and preparing them for the future. The sorority sponsors teacher-led workshops to help students with study skills, career options, how to prepare for the SAT/ACT, how to apply for college and financial aid and more. 

The Evening at the Oscars is on April 16 at the Crown Expo Center, Hall C. at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and are available at www.ukoaka-2nd-Evening-at-the-Oscars.eventbrite.com. For information, call 663.1527 or visit www.ukoaka1908.com. 

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