Making things meaningful.
Any time an individual or organization creates a program of any sort, part of the focus is making sure it is meaningful. How one defines meaningful can range from a wonderful and engaging experience in the form of the kind of social event hosted, as well as making a positive impact in the communities in which people live, work, and play.
“When we talked about this towards the middle of last spring (about April of 2014), we want to make sure we are doing something that’s more than the standard party; we want to make sure we have a larger purpose, make people aware of what can be done, and do so in a manner that shows the dedication to who we are and what we do”, notes Michael Jones in our discussion yesterday evening.
“We want to have fun, but we want people to be mindful of the real reason for why we are doing what we are doing”, adds Robert Cunningham.
Both are members of the Alphas of Atlanta, Inc., a collective of members from the metro-area’s graduate chapters of what is considered the first and foremost intercollegiate fraternity established for African-American men (established on the campus of Cornell University on December 4, 1906), which has famous members such as (but not limited to) Martin Luther King, Jr, Andrew Young, former ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, and Representative David Scott (D-GA). Jones and Cunningham are serving as the co-chairs of the organization’s functions taking place in May, which they (and their fellow steering committee members) are hopeful can provide a new and refined meaning of the catchphrase “a party with a purpose”.
After months of diligent and focused work by their committee, this weekend is the launch of their signature spring event, the #AlphaDerby. The Kentucky Derby Themed function provides a weekend of networking and social opportunities designed to not only raise awareness of the work of the participating chapters, but to provide support to seven (yes, seven) metro-area nonprofits whose work focuses on outreach, scholarship, and service to students (in elementary, middle, and high school) as well as adults.
On Friday, May 1st, they are hosting their kickoff mixer at Whiskey Blue, the rooftop lounge at their host hotel, the W-Buckhead (3377 Peachtree Road NW in Atlanta). Kicking off at 7:06pm, this is open to the public and provides all with opportunities to meet and greet with the members of their steering committee, as well as network with fellow professionals from the metro area and beyond.
“We are extremely fortunate to have a number of guests attending from outside the metro-Atlanta area. To date, we have attendees coming from Miami, Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Memphis, and even Los Angeles (among other places); it sincerely means a lot that people are willing to lend support to our efforts”, Cunningham adds.
The signature event takes place on Saturday, May 2nd, at the City Club of Buckhead.
“The response from the general public and the business community is extremely humbling”, Jones reflects. “Through them, we are able to be better servants of all in our communities”.
The sold-out event (only ticketed guests are able to attend as there are not going to be tickets sold at the door) runs from 3-8pm. With a wide range of inter-related events for the expected 850 attendees, the day-function is shaping up to provide an outstanding experience for all.
“I’m proud to serve as an official sponsor for this event”, notes Jay Austin of the title sponsor, Jay Austin Collection Bowties.
Complete with covered valet parking, a limited number of vendors (including attire for men and women, and even a cigar vendor, Brotherhood Cigars), the indoor/outdoor venue provides something for everyone, and even a little more. Add the ambiance provided by the sounds of saxophonist Joel Cruickshank and his JCru Music Group (who are regulars at Centennial Olympic Park’s “Wind-Down Wednesdays”), the Grand Imperial DJ Majestik (a regular at Wind-Down Wednesdays and MJQ among other venues), multiple contests, and even a top-flight silent auction, attendees are afforded multiple pursuits to not only enjoy themselves, but to mark the event for their future calendars.
Greg Gray, who serves as the committee’s silent auction coordinator, states, “With auction items ranging from autographed sports memorabilia, weekend trips to the Grammy Awards (among other places), and a South African safari, we truly are providing some great items (and this does not include the contest and raffles awarded on-site)”.
As exceptional an event the Alphas of Atlanta are putting together, there is one thing that supercedes it, and that is the cause.
“We are ever mindful of the real reason why we are doing this event, and we do not want anyone (our guests, business sponsors, and all patrons) to lose sight of it”, reminds Cunningham.
Proceeds from the event are supporting 7 metro-area nonprofits. Including the LEAD Foundation (the “lead” foundation for the event), metro-area nonprofits being supported include the Henry Arthur Callis Education Foundation, the Randall D. Ponder Memorial Scholarship, the Charles H. Wesley Educational Foundation, the RKL Education Foundation, the Dr. Charles N. Hawk, Jr, Scholarship Program, and the PGL “Go to High School, Go to College”. Through their work, along with supporting chapters based in Loganville/Conyers-East Metro Atlanta (Walton, Rockdale, and East Metro), Marietta-Cobb County, Stockbridge-Henry County, Decatur-DeKalb County, Duluth-Gwinnett County, Atlanta-Fulton County, and Morrow-Clayton County, unlike other events more “insular” in nature, their efforts are truly making an impact through multiple counties across the greater Atlanta area.
But the work doesn’t end there.
For Memorial Day Weekend, on May 23rd, starting promptly at 12pm, the Alphas of Atlanta are hosting a family-friendly outing as part of the Atlanta Jazz Festival. Taking place at Piedmont Park at their hospitality tent, members of the fraternity, their families, friends, and associates are provided further environments for social engagement and networking.
“There is a time and place for everything, including time to build the bonds among each other (fellow fraternity brothers), our families, and others”, concludes Theron Jones, the co-coordinator of the event (along with Michael Jones). For additional details and to RSVP, readers are encouraged to contact them via email (either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
May is known as being a month of “merriment”; while others focus on having a good time, there are those who understand that in having a good outing, it can be a springboard for doing some good, if not great things, especially the the family-themed event at the end of May and this weekend’s festivities.
“We started a little over a year ago; 15 committed brothers from all of our chapters are taking their time and talents to come together to do something special. It means a lot that leaders in their places of work, their graduate chapters, alumni associations, and other civic organizations, are truly coming together for something bigger. Without their efforts, along with support from our patrons (ticket-purchasers), business community, and others…it just goes to show you what you can do when you come together for a great cause”, emphasizes Jones.
And this is what is making this May (and future months) so meaningful.