A group of women dedicated to sisterly love, community service, scholarship and finer womanhood has been giving back to the Peekskill community for the last 25 years. The Nu Psi Zeta chapter of the national Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was the first Greek letter organization in the city and has partnered with many different agencies in the community to help those in need, celebrate their African American heritage and dedicate themselves to “finer womanhood.”
This weekend as Women's History Month begins, the sorority will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a “Finer Womanhood” events, including a public meet and greet this Friday, a luncheon Saturday and worship at this Sunday. All money raised this weekend will go towards college scholarships for qualifying local teens.
Each year the group awards two to three deserving students with from around $500 up to $2,000 scholarships. There is a strict criterion and recipients are chosen based on their community service and academic performance. The selective process begins in March and the sisters interview applicants in April. The winners are announced around the end of the school year.
“Over the last few years with the economy being as it is, we have received more applicants. It is good to award them for their work,” said President of the Sorority Cassandra Redd.
The scholarship is just one of the many ways Nu Psi Zeta gives back to the community. Nu Psi Zeta is the Peekskill chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, a sorority formed by five African American women in 1920 at Howard University. The founders, known as the Five Pearls, “dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for black women and sought to establish a new organization predicated on the precepts of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love and Finer Womanhood,” the Zeta Phi Beta website explains.
In Peekskill, the 19 sisters in the Nu Psi Zeta continue to dedicate themselves to the sorority’s original precepts. And while all sisters contribute their time, money and energy to community service, President Redd has taken on the responsibility of leading the group.
Redd works full time as assistant manager of and also serves as a deacon at , but is very dedicated to her sisters and the charitable activities of Nu Psi Zeta.
Redd had first learned the importance of community service as a young girl scout and said the sisterhood and dedication to community service drew her to the sorority seven years ago when she joined. In 2010 Redd was honored that her fellow members thought she was fit for the job of President and was elected to that position after the previous president resigned.
As president, Redd leads the sorority in dozens of activities. While the group does do fun girls night out events once in a while, they are mostly focused on finding ways to help people in need, give back to the community and celebrate their womanhood and African-American heritage.
The sorority is active from September through June and gets busiest during the holiday season when they adopt families for whom they provide holiday meals. They also work with other organizations to give back to youth and seniors. During their Generation-to-Generation campaign over Christmas, they raised funds to give gift cards to seniors and toys to youth.
The organizations and groups they partner with range from , Department of Social Services, the Preservation Company and the . They also marched in thelast year. They aim to hold an event each month.
“It is hard work but it is a lot of fun and it is so rewarding to see when the seniors smile and when people come out for the parade. It is a great feeling of unity and helping each other,” Redd said.
In addition to community events, Nu Psi Zeta also mentors their little sisters called Archonettes (high school age) and Amicettes and Pearlettes (ages 5-12). They have a connecting mentoring program to keep in touch with each other as the little sister go off to college. The group proudly celebrated one sisters’ induction into her college chapter of Zeta Phi Beta recently.
“As a member, it gives me great joy to serve as a mentor/role model for the young girls and ladies not only in our auxiliary groups, but those in the community. Helping to build their self esteem, stressing the importance of education, helping them to learn and understand tolerance of others and to care about mankind,” Redd said.
This weekend the sorority will kick off its Finer Womanhood and 25th anniversary celebration. The theme for the celebration is “honoring our past and celebrating today.”
This weekend’s luncheon recognizes the work of the chapter and members of the community in the areas of the ideals and principles upon which the sorority was founded: scholarship, service, sisterly love and Finer Womanhood. The luncheon is a sisters only event, but this Friday’s meet and greet is open to the public.
It is meant to introduce the sorority to the public and raise money for the scholarship fund.
The meet and greet will be held at on Washington Street from 7 to 10 p.m. A $35 donation is requested. The public may also attend a Sister Sunday Worship Service and Luncheon on Sunday, March 4 at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. The service is at 11 a.m. and a $40 donation is requested.
To donate to the Debra E. Holcomb Scholarship Fund send checks payable to Nu Psi Zeta Chapter, PO Box 2332, Peekskill, NY 10566. Donations are tax deductible.