12th D IN THE PRESS – 14 Years of Consistent Mentoring Work with Youth in SoCal

A COPY OF THE ARTICLE THAT APPEARED IN THE PASADENA JOURNAL
L-R: Brothers James LaFlourche, Kwame Dow, James Banks, Raphael Irving, Ronnie Walker, Anthony Turner, Derrick Delaney, Donovan Carter, Rodney Jones, Byron Castine, Ricky Lewis, James Henderson, and Jeremy Lacewell.
These four of six gleeful mentees will join the ranks of college students in the fall with brand new lap tops. A total of 6 laptops were given out; two young men could not attend due to prior commitments.

In 2003, brothers of Tau Tau Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and the Omega Educational Foundation, Inc., (OEF) resolved to change the narrative for how to successfully mentor young black boys from the city. These worthy men had just completed their tenth year of producing a successful series of Youth Leadership Conferences (YLCs) held on city college campuses in the area, specifically, Southwest and Compton Colleges.

But, something appeared to be missing in the program; the fraternity became concerned about the adjustment students were making when they went off to college, especially colleges out of state. It seemed after being away from the familiarity of home often for the first time, students would be back home knocking on mom’s door. That’s when Ricky Lewis, Executive Director of the Omega Educational Foundation, Inc., member of Tau Tau Chapter and former 12th District Representative of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., concluded something needed to change.

“We had just completed our 10th annual YLC and wanted to make sure we followed these young men and encouraged them to attend college and graduate,” said Lewis. To accomplish that simple goal, a mentoring program was started by the YLC committee to keep in touch with the students and help with their adjustment at their campus. Brother Ronnie Walker, who at that time was an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), was asked to lead the initiative. “We felt the need for mentoring after putting on the YLC for a few years. I gathered a few dedicated Omega men and we started signing up boys,” said Walker.

Since its beginning, the mentoring program has changed and grown in substantive ways. Student attrition has reduced, students feel less likely that they have been abandoned and the small assistance and support they continue to receive is appreciated. The mentorship program has been a challenge. Walker says that the single most challenging aspect of the mentoring program is the issue of single parenting. “Single parenting is failing because most parents don’t know how to parent,” he said. That led the Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) to add a parenting component to it.

At the time of the inaugural mentorship program, the expressed need was to find a way to create an environment that would stimulate and motivate young men to stay in the Youth Leadership program and, upon graduation from high school attend the college or university of their choice. The mentoring program has seen 300 to 400 mentees since 2003. Over the past 14 years, some 50-100 brothers of Omega have been involved in delivering thousands of hours of direct services to this initiative.

When asked what has worked well and what has not for the mentoring program, Lewis says, “We have had great results; mentees are staying in our program. They are maturing as young men. Their grades have improved. They have constant contact with a mentor. They graduate from HS and they go to college.” Still, too many young men come back home after the 1st year or two of college, “but we are getting better” at what we do, says Lewis. Key features of the mentoring program are: individualized mentoring and constant follow-up with the young men and their parents.

What is the program’s content? In an article released in the July 1st Issue of the International Fatherhood and Mentoring Newsletter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Brother Rev. Dr. Rodney S. Brooks wrote that among other benefits, the mentoring program offers scholarship programs, back to school drives, health education programs and life skills training.

“Young men are taught how to shake hands, make eye contact, tie a necktie and practice chivalry toward women,” he added. Brother Brooks added that “Being around mentors who do just that is a constant motivator!” Brothers Lewis and Brooks emphasized that students are encouraged to:

1. Stay in high school and graduate and manage their time and attitude while in high school,

2. Go to college and graduate. Through our beloved fraternity our youth spend time with college educated professionals who are the embodiment of sacrifice and service.

 

Obituary for Brother Mitchell Higginbotham

635912329248636068-Mitch-HigginbothamWe have lost yet another one of our stalwart brothers to Omega Chapter.  Brother Mitchell Higginbotham was initiated on 5/10/1941 through Nu Psi Chapter at Virginia State College (currently Virginia State University).  Brother Higginbotham later enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp and was one of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Brother Higginbotham was a Life Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity with Lambda Omicron.  Let us keep the Higginbotham family and the Brothers of Lambda Omicron Chapter in our thoughts and prayers.  I have included Brother Higginbotham’s Obituary to share the accomplishments of this amazing Omega Man.

 

Obituary for

Mitchell Higginbotham,

Tuskegee Airmen Ambassador of Goodwill

Second Lieutenant Mitchell Higginbotham, one of 7 Tuskegee Airmen from the Village of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, died Sunday, February 14, 2016 of natural causes in a nursing home in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 94.

In 1942, while a student at Virginia State College, Mitchell enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp and was sent to Tuskegee Air Field where Black enlistees were trained to be pilots.  He was assigned to the 477th Bomber Group and trained to fly both single and multi engine military aircraft.  While in training, he was cited for his skills as a B 25 Medium Bomber pilot. Mitchell’s younger brother, First Lieutenant Robert Higginbotham, is also a Tuskegee airman. Robert  is a retired Orthopedic Surgeon.

During World War II, the Pittsburgh Courier launched a national “Double Victory “ campaign calling for victory against this country’s enemies  overseas and over all forms of racial discrimination at home. Mitchell, and three local pilots, scored a win over segregation at three  bases where they served, Selfridge Field, Michigan, Godman Field, Kentucky and Freeman Field, Indiana.  Even though commissioned  officers, the Tuskegee pilots were wrongly classified as “trainees” and routinely denied entrance  to  Officer’s Clubs. In early 1945, the 477th was sent to Freeman Field for advanced training in anticipation of  combat duty in the Pacific Theater. While in training, Mitchell, and 100  other Tuskegee Officers,  lined up to enter the Freeman Field club. This protest was encouraged by civil rights leaders and was widely reported in the Pittsburgh Courier and other black newspapers.    Joining in the protest were the late Lieutenants Calvin Smith of Beaver County, William Curtis of Sewickley and Wendell Freeland of Pittsburgh. Although initially jailed, the protesters were later released by direct order of the President.

After the war, Mitchell went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Labor Relations from the University of Colorado. He then joined the staff of the Urban League of Pittsburgh. Mitchell was later hired by the Greater Pittsburgh Airport where he managed  landings and take offs of all  unscheduled aircraft. Mitchell then relocated to Los Angeles where he served as a LA County Probation Officer until retiring.

Mitchell is survived by his Brother Robert, Sister-In-Law Margaret, and two nephews, Robert and Michael. Mitchell requested that he be buried at the Tuskegee Memorial in the Sewickley Cemetery.  Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Mitchell L. Higginbotham may be made to the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 881780, Los Angeles, CA 90009 or at www.taisf.org.

Brother Philmore Graham – Omega Chapter

Brother Philmore Graham

Brother Philmore Graham


The following comments came from the 12th D list serve

It is with a deep sense of loss that I must tell you that Brother Philmore Graham passed away on Friday evening, June 12, 2014.  Philmore was initiated at Rho Psi Chapter, Tennessee State University in May 1959.  He served proudly in the United States Air Force after college, which brought him out to California.

Philmore was 12th DR of the 12th District, a Life Member of our beloved fraternity, a kind and loving husband and father, and one of the finest Brothers and Men we will ever know.

I will provide you with information for Brother Graham’s memorial service as soon as I can.  It has been requested that Brothers not try to contact Philmore’s daughter Diedre at this time.  She will let us know when she is ready to hear from us.  There is a group of Brothers at Theta Pi and Pi Chi Chapters that are very close to Diedre and will help attend to her needs and requests for the service.
In the meantime, please pray for comfort and blessings to Philmore’s family, daughter Diedre and son, our Brother Montoya Graham.
May the Good Lord take Philmore into His holy and loving arms, and grant our Brother eternal rest in Heaven.  Amen
    Dennis Martinez
    12th District KRS
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Very sad day indeed. Please keep us updated on funeral arrangements. Let’s all keep Bro Graham’s family in our prayers. Thank you.
    Brother Fred Alexander
    12th District Representative
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Agreed Brother DR. Brother Graham served Omega well and  mentored many of us Omega men. Days ahead will not be easy, so, let’s pray, contact and support one another during this time.
Proverb 4:20-22 says, My son pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.

21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart : for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.

Brother Graham was an Omega man who shared life and every word of advice he gave us. May we keep his words and life in our sight always.

RIP Brother Graham – Rho Psi 5-59

    Bro. Sedrick Spencer
    Immediate Past 12th District – District Representative
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Philmore Graham saved my life and is responsible for everything that I am and will be. God sent him to make sure that many fatherless children not only had a positive role model, but someone they could count on through every aspect of life.Philmore Graham introduced me to higher education and he pushed me beyond my own limits. He believed in me and never doubted that I could change and be somebody some day.

His love was unconditional and came with no strings, no matter what my circumstances.

The world truly lost an angel tonight and I will forever know that all of my accomplishments and successes are truly due to the fact that he loved me and fought for my survival.

I love you Philmore Graham. Rest in peace and I thank God you came into my life!!!

Shamann Walton, Pi Chi

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Our prayers and condolences from the brothers of  Phi Omicron Chapter-Baja Ques of San Diego California.

Attached are words and an eloquent illustration of our brother from Rep.Miller. http://capitolwords.org/date/2008/05/08/E870-2_a-tribute-to-philmore-graham/

Sincerely,

Basileus Elect. Bro. Jovanim Martinez, Phi Omicron

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We’ve lost a giant of a brother!!!
Paul Pradia, Beta Mu Mu
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The light of Omega has dimmed for a moment. My prayers and thoughts are with Bro. Grahams family.
Like many of you, while coming up through the Fraternity, I too was the recipient of Bro. Grahams positive and passionate influence. His love for Omega and his unyielding commitment to guiding young men and women will always be his legacy.
Many times, during my early Fraternal years, Bro. Graham would take the time to discuss the mysteries of Omega with me. Those talks assisted my transition from being just a “bruh” , to becoming a true brother.
Bro. Graham is at peace.
    Bro. Carl A. Blunt
   Immediate Past 1VGB
   23rd & 25th 12th  District Representative
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Really don’t know what to say.  Philmore was probably the greatest Que I’ve ever me.  I actually thought he would never die—that he’d be here forever.  Aside from the impact on me personally—I was on line when I met him—he gave me my life’s mission-the Omega Boys Club.  I only hope we can continue to represent and live out his mission and his spirit and legacy.  That way he will never die.  Omega chapter just got a great one.Bro. Dr. Joseph Marshall, Pi Chi

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alive & Free – Omega Boys Club

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Brother Philmore Graham, the 12th 12th District Representative, and last living charter member of Pi Rho Chapter. A living legacy who will be sorely missed. The Pi Rho Chapter family mourn the passing of this Omega Giant.
    Nicholas “Nick” Thompson
    Basileus, Pi Rho Chapter
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Bro. Graham and I were schoolmates and engineering students at Tennessee State University (TSU).  I was two (2) classes ahead of him, but we had one (1) engineering class together.  When I enrolled at TSU, I had five (5) years of membership in the fraternity and, as a special student, did not transfer to another undergraduate chapter (Rho Psi) but I had some influence on Bro. Graham and several other students who later pledged and were initiated in the fraternity.
Since Bro. Graham lived many years in Northern California and contributed so much to Theta Pi Chapter, it is appropriate that his memorial service be held in that area.  However, those of us who live in Southern California may find it difficult to attend the memorial service.
I recommend that a second memorial service for Bro. Graham be held in Southern California at least one (1) week after the first memorial service for the benefit of brothers in this area who will not attend the service next week.  A second memorial service for a departed brother may be unprecedented, but Bro. Graham did so much for the 12th District that he is worthy of a second farewell.

2013/2014 National High School Essay Contest

To all Chapters of the “Massive and Progressive” 12th District,
I greet you in the name of the Supreme Basileus of the Universe from whom all blessings flow. This correspondence is in regards to the annual National High School Essay contest.  Please find attached with this email the official announcement for said contest.

Please make sure to read the rules and timelines for the contest.  The following are a few items worth highlighting from the announcement.
Topic:  “What Do You View as the Critical Skills Needed to be Successful in College and Beyond?”

– Open to all College-bound, High School Seniors
– Essay must be original, 700-750 words in length.
– 3 type-written, double-spaced copies must be submitted
Contest closes October 25, 2013
– Manuscript must be submitted to the LOCAL Chapter sponsoring the contest.
– National Awards to be announced on or about June 30, 2014

Each Chapter in the 12th District is expected to select a local winner and submit the essay to the 12th District Achievement Week Sub-Committee by December 31st , 2013.  The 12th District Achievement Week Committee will then select a winner to represent the 12th District and submit that essay to the Intl Achievement Week Chairman by end of March 2014.
The attached Essay Contest form is available on the IHQ website and will be on the 12th District website.

International Essay Contest Form 2013-14

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding the National High School Essay contest please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Bro. Andrew J. Davis- Chairman
12th District Achievement Week Committee