For fifty years, the San Fernando Valley LINKS, bonded in friendship and service have consistently worked to make a positive difference in the local, national and global communities. The chapter was organized by Link Annette Williams and chartered on May 9, 1973. The 12 charter members were Lestrita Boardman, Enola Burrell, Angelica Calhoun, Kathy Williams Goldberg, Gloria Larkin, Maryanne Llorens, Billy Newcomb, Leatrice Pride, Ruby Robertson, Nettie Washington and Annette Williams. Link Leatrice Pride was selected the first chapter president. She later proudly represented our chapter as an elected officer when she served two terms as National Treasurer, 1980-1984.
Over the years the San Fernando Valley Chapter has contributed thousands of hours to worthwhile causes and established numerous programs to service the community, from vision and dental screening, tutorial programs in local schools, to serving as surrogates and role models for at risk youth. The chapter has been in the forefront to systematically attack the injustices of racism, sexism, and classism. One of the chapter’s first major service projects was to address the issue of housing discrimination that existed in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. Not to ignore the problem of poverty in the Valley, the chapter has annually assisted in distributing Thanksgiving baskets to families in need. Addressing the crisis of homelessness, the chapter recently sponsored a home in one of the Hope the Mission, Tiny Home Villages in our local community.
The chapter’s first major health project was educating the community about sickle cell anemia, and the available treatment and funding resources. In more recent years, the chapter annually made pillows for recovering cardiac patients. To reach a broader audience we have produced numerous informative webinars with professional advice on health and wellness. Overall, we have sponsored sustainable and transformational programming by promoting healthy lifestyles for chapter members and the larger community.
There have been numerous chapter projects addressing the arts: theater parties, Project Walking Fete, and thousands of dollars given in scholarships for African American youth to participate in local music, dance and art classes. Through a documentary series, the chapter has highlighted the work of African American writers and producers. We have effectively brought members of the local community together to engage in dialog on everything from the Blacks in the arts to the pressing issues of sex trafficking and mental health. We have been proactive with community partners (e.g. Journey Out, ZOE) to bring out positive change.
Noteworthy international projects have been given equal attention by the chapter. We sponsored a school in South Africa, organized health and wellness kits for students in Haiti, contributed to clean water processing in Haiti, and participated in the Safe Motherhood Initiative.
Many successful fundraisers have allowed the chapter to raise several hundred thousand dollars. To date we have awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to deserving African American students to attend colleges and universities of their choice.
The chapter has devoted attention to our youth. The year 2009 marked the beginnings of Project S.E.L.F.—Cultivating Leadership through Building Self-esteem, Enrichment and Life Skills for the Future. Partnering with other community agencies (e.g. Penny Lane, a center servicing foster youth and underserved families), we implemented a variety of STEAM programs.
While this is only a brief history of the San Fernando Valley Links, it is evident that from 1973 to the present, we have created a legacy linked in friendship and connected in service. We are dedicated to transforming communities. We are fulfilling our purpose!
The San Fernando Valley (CA) Chapter of
The Links, Incorporated