“Nursing is a very caring profession. We are so busy caring for others that we sometimes fail to take the time to care for ourselves. So tonight we are going to take that time and highlight some of the great things that we, as nurses, have done and honor some of our own,” said Pearline Okumakpeyi, immediate past president of the Omega Chi Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority.
This organization is a national sorority of registered professional nurses and nursing students.
Okumakpeyi was speaking at a Nurses Week Celebration, held May 13 at the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (DSSM) in Brooklyn.
And a very fitting celebration it was, too, because nurses are some of the hardest working yet often underrated members of the nation’s workforce. With their combination of medical knowledge, human compassion and stamina, nurses are the backbone of every good medical facility.
Omega Chi’s celebration was emceed by Michelle Sampson, while Colin McCammon added to the enjoyment with his deejaying skills. The evening began with welcoming remarks by Alla Mai Clark, followed by an invocation delivered by Audrey Sealey and a moment of silence for a valued member, Ethel Savage, who recently passed and will be greatly missed for her generosity and helpfulness.
Dr. Steven Kaner, DSSM’s medical director, extended greetings on behalf of the center. He spoke of their high regard for their nursing staff and DSSM’s efforts to support them with educational programs that help them become licensed at ever-higher levels within their profession.
Ms. Okumakpeyi told of DSSM’s open-hearted welcome when the sorority had to find a new place to meet. As a tangible expression of Omega Chi’s appreciation, she presented Dr. Kaner with a donation toward the beautiful garden the facility is creating for its Dementia Unit.
Then it was time for awards:
The Unsung Hero Award went to Laurina McMillan who always goes that extra mile, working diligently and without fanfare to ensure that the chapter’s motto “Service for Humanity” is carried out.
The Community Service Award was presented to Bernice Simmons for her dedication to sharing her knowledge and skills at health teachings and screenings during community health fairs.
Wendy Lewis received the Member of Year Award for her untiring involvement in the sorority’s activities, offering her assistance whenever needed on Chi Eta Phi programs and projects.
Neophyte of the Year, which is given to a woman with less than one year of membership, was awarded to Sabrina Credle-Foskey. Since joining Chi Eta Phi’s Omega Chi Chapter, she has energetically supported the chapter and organization’s mission, principles and values.
Also recognized were three Omega Chi members who were honored with certificates at Chi Eta Phi’s Northeastern Regional Conference earlier this month. The recipients were Omega Chi’s new president Jacqueline Gulstone, who was designated the region’s Unsung Hero; Judith Lewis who was noted as Member of the Year; and Sybilla Daniel-Douglas, who was singled out for her achievements in Membership Intake.
Gulstone and Lewis were brought forward once more, this time to receive perennial plants from the chapter “because they are like perennials; they continue to give of themselves and keep on blooming.”
Other highlights of the evening included a poetic reading by Sybilla Daniel- Douglas and a gospel solo by Audrey Sealey. Alla Mai Clark laid out some history of the Chi Eta Phi Sorority, which was organized in 1932 by Ms. Aliene C. Ewell with the assistance of 11 other courageous registered nurses. The charter chapter, Alpha, was organized at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington DC for two specific purposes: to elevate the plane of nursing and increase interest in the field of nursing.
Omega Chi Chapter was chartered in 1979 on Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College campus. Over the past 32 years, the chapter has grown not only in size, but in the range of services it provides to the community. It collaborates with various organizations to hold health fairs and health forums on disease prevention along with health promotion at churches and senior centers. It also provides breast and prostate cancer screening and education, mentoring programs for nursing students and new graduate nurses as well as scholarships for nursing students. Furthermore, it offers adult literacy education and Thanksgiving baskets for the needy. As Ms. Clark said of Omega Chi’s 47 active members, “Although we are relatively small in number, we are big in spirit and in heart.”