Mar 18 2015
By Callie Langford
We recently spoke with Reshanta Stewart, a member of Beta Psi Omega, the local alumni chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (which is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American college-educated women). Reshanta has been coordinating our partnership with the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha since 2005 and has helped build and enhance this wonderful relationship for CASA.
“I joined this chapter in Austin in 2005 and CASA was hosting the Casas for CASA program raffling off playhouses. We would help sell tickets at the mall. I don’t know what prompted me to say, ‘Hey, let’s do other stuff for CASA,’” said Reshanta. She struck up a conversation with a CASA employee, learned more about the program and finally asked what else CASA needed. “We started doing an Easter Egg Hunt. We did a Halloween party one time that was really fun. And it went from there!”
Alpha Kappa Alpha at one of the Easter Egg Hunts for CASA kids
Over the years the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha have built a really strong volunteer partnership with our organization. They have met needs for our existing events and they’ve created new ways to spend time helping CASA kids. After working on our Casas for CASA fundraiser, they started volunteering annually at CASAblanca working our silent auction and now they bring a team of volunteers, including undergraduate Alpha Kappa Alpha members from Huston Tillotson and UT, to the CASA Superhero Run each year. Beyond the events they’ve hosted for little CASA kids, they’ve started working with teens through our Transitioning Youth Project meet-ups. “We’ve worked on meet-ups around health and self esteem, African-American hair care and career choices. One of our members, Avis Day, is a doctor who talked with teens about healthy food choices. For career days we’ve brought in teachers to talk to the teens.”
When asked which project has been her favorite, Reshanta had a tough time deciding: “I’ve always loved the Easter Egg Hunt. I also enjoyed the career meet-ups mingling with the older kids. Some of the other ladies may say CASAblanca… getting to wear your fine clothing and coming out and mingling with people. We’re there for a job but we get to meet a lot of people around town who we might not know. We strike up conversations and find out about their lives and their jobs. The year before last we met Jimbo Cotton from Mr. Gattis. He offered free pizza for my kids here at school for my reading initiative. They read books and get awards and I’d have a pizza lunch for them. I always purchased the pizza from Mr. Gattis, but this year he provided free pizza for us! That makes me want to say CASAblanca is one of my favorites too!”
Alpha Kappa Alpha members Reshanta Stewart, Alice Garrett, De'Ana Walls and Avis Day at this year's CASAblanca Gala
When asked what’s next for CASA and Alpha Kappa Alpha’s partnership, Reshanta says, “We want to continue everything we’ve been doing and whatever else you need us to!” Some of their members have even taken the next step to become volunteer advocates speaking up for children.
We’re so appreciative of Alpha Kappa Alpha for their creativity, flexibility and generosity with their time and energy. They have been supporting CASA kids for over 10 years now and we greatly value their partnership.
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