The Jackson County Missouri Chapter of The Links, Incorporated
Highlights of 30 Years of Community Service and Friendship
The Links, Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit corporation, was founded on November 9, 1946 by Mrs. Sarah S. Scott and Mrs. Margaret R. Hawkins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As our logo illustrates, our chain links over 12,000 prestigious women of color together around the globe, in sisterhood, friendship and service. Today, there are 274 Chapters in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. With national headquarters located in Washington, D.C., The Links, Incorporated is committed to educational, cultural and civic activities. Links members contribute more than 500,000 documented hours of community service annually – strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation.
The organizer of the Jackson County Missouri Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, was Mrs. Inez Y. Kaiser. The chapter was chartered on July 25, 1981, by National President, Link Julia B. Purnell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and National Vice President, Link Thelma Hardiman of Buffalo, New York. Currently, there are 51 active and 5 alumnae members who continue to grow and strive to make Jackson County a better community. As a result of two chapters (the other being the Greater Kansas City Chapter) in the metropolitan area, there has been a significant increase in the impact of volunteer services.
Links are well known for their leadership in championing major issues confronting the black community. The Links have been in the lead in combating areas from childhood obesity and breast cancer epidemics to the decline of arts education and college affordability. Chapters bring leadership and significant financial resources in addition to commitment and volunteer power. The Links, Incorporated have given over $24 million to charitable causes, including $1 million each to the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Civil Rights Museum.
Locally, in addition to the numerous hours of service contributed, Jackson County Links have also made financial contributions to local organizations such as Children’s Mercy Hospital, Alvin Ailey, NAACP, Urban League, Senior Citizens Homes, Battered Women’s Shelters, and awarded over $200,000.00 to local students in scholarship funds.
Listed below are project initiatives focusing on the organization’s five program facets: The Arts, Services to Youth, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Wellness Linkage. We are proud to share a glimpse into some of the activities in which we have engaged during the past 30 years:
- The chapter’s first project was a reception at the Central Exchange as a prelude to ―A Star Studded Evening at the Folly Theater‖, a show headlining the first African American Miss America - the now famous actress and singer, Vanessa Williams. The renowned Claude ―Fiddler‖ Williams completed the evening’s entertainment.
- Commissioned, nationally and internationally known artist, Ed Dwight to sculpt a bronze bust of Lucile Bluford, editor and publisher of the Kansas City Call. Miss Bluford was the first African American to be admitted into the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. The bust is displayed at the Bluford Library on 31st and Prospect Streets in Kansas City, MO.
- Hosted a reception celebrating the purchase of the16th Century Benin Bronze Head of an Oba, heralding the beginning of a permanent African exhibit at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.
- Sponsored reception at Nelson Atkins Art Museum and sponsored works by Henry O. Tanner, African American Artist.
- Hosted a reception for the cast ―Now I can Fly‖ Rhapsody in Hughes, a tribute to Langston Hughes’ 100th Birthday.
- Hosted Jazz Brunches, as signature scholarship fundraisers, which featured locally and nationally known artists.
- Hosted Scholarship Fundraiser, featuring well-know saxophonist Mike White and band at the Armacost Antique Car Museum.
- Partnered with the Missouri Repertory Theater and Theater League to provide at-risk youth experiences with the visual and performing arts by attending several plays and hosting a reception.
- Hosted a pre-reception for the movie ―Waiting for Superman‖.
- Held art contest and fair at Bruce Watkins Cultural Arts Center. Displayed student artwork judged by nationally known artists Dell Godbold and Lonnie and Robert Powell. Winners were entered into the National Links Art Contest.
Services to Youth
- Commissioned Rodney Thompson and Stinson McClendon, videographers, to document the life of Lucile Bluford. Copies of the video were placed in schools within the Kansas City School District and the Bluford Library.
- Worked with school board members and state library commissioner in naming the Public library at 31st and Prospect in honor of Lucile Bluford.
- Dedicated reading room/library at the Niles Home for Children in memory of Link JoAhn Brown Nash, National Vice President and beloved Central Area Director, a native of Kansas City, KS.
- Donated books to youth in the Central Area.
- Held Youth at Risk Program featuring Kemba Smith and Congresswoman Maxine Waters as guest speakers along with a panel of community leaders.
- Received national award for participating in Project LEAD (Links Erase Alcohol and Drugs) High Expectations.
- Sponsored African American History Month Celebration exposing the African American culture and cuisine to foreign exchange students. This collaboration with The American Field Service continued for over 15 years and received an award at The Links Area conference.
- Secured funding of $100,000.00 for a major redesign of the Niles Home library/reading room.
- Hosted Pages & Popcorn – signature umbrella project a themed monthly reading event with the children of Niles Home.
- Sponsored ―Take Your Daughter to Work‖ program.
- Links and Connecting Links (husbands of Links) participated in Saturday Reading Project with children at Niles Home.
- Hosted the 1st “Links to Excellence - College Preparation,” a day-long seminar held at the Kauffman Foundation, preparing college-bound students and their families for the rigors of applying and gaining acceptance into colleges.
- Established a partnership with UNCF/UMKC for matching funds for chapter’s scholarship recipients meeting certain criteria.
National Trends and Services
- Presented portrait of Miss Lucile Bluford, painted by nationally known Kansas City artist Lonnie Powell.
- Co-sponsored event with our sister chapter featuring Link Betty Shabazz (widow of Malcolm X) in Founders Day program and luncheon.
- Built a Habitat House in the central city in collaboration with First Baptist Church of Kansas City.
- Presented annual Thanksgiving baskets to families in the urban core and canned food supplies to residents of City Union Mission.
- Developed ―National Linkage to Election Day Initiative.‖ Plan was adopted for use by chapters nationally.
- Partnered with KCMC Child Development Corporation and co-sponsored a book signing reception for Link Marian Wright Edelman.
- Co-sponsored with Junior League ―Game Face‖- an exhibit at Union Station, showcasing a collection of photographs and rich personal stories that document the impact sports have on the daily lives of millions of girls and women.
- Donated funds and supplies for Katrina victims.
International Trends and Services
- Participated in the Heartland Cluster Project to sponsor the building of a school in South Africa — ―Education across the Miles‖.
- Presented ―Faces of Our Sister: Financial Empowerment Workshop‖, a seminar inviting women from third world countries now residing in Kansas City to learn and understand general banking and financial principles to assist in their indoctrination into U.S. culture.
- Hosted African Women’s Health Conference in partnership with Swope Parkway Health Center, The Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Honorable Link Cordiss Collins, former U.S. Representative was the keynotes speaker.
- Established a Food Pantry for area Somali families providing can goods, baby formula, diapers and other staples. Items donated to the pantry quarterly.
- Partnered with Heart to Heart International to provide volunteer support at the warehouse in packing care products to send to Haiti.
- Presented to De la Salle students traditional Music showing the Diaspora from Africa to the Caribbean and South America.
- Donated food and supplies to Haiti victims.
Health and Wellness Linkage
- Sponsored Annual Walk for Health and Wellness in conjunction with Links National thrust to increase the awareness of health issues among African Americans.
- National Trends & Services Facet launched the Link Delores Y. Maxwell Walk in 2009 to honor Link Maxwell who bravely battled sarcoma cancer during her tenure as our chapter’s President. The 2010 Walk raised nearly $12,000 supporting sarcoma cancer research and the national campaign against Childhood Obesity.
- Initiated Workshop ―Make Healthy Eating a Habit‖.
- Sponsored “Linkages to Life”, a day-long seminar featuring Terrie Williams, author of A Plentiful Harvest.
- Donated more than $8,000.00 to worthy health organizations assisting in counteracting diseases most affecting African Americans.
- As part of American Heart Month, conducted a heart health forum to educate members on the importance of heart disease prevention. Forums featured leading cardiologist, Willie E. Lawrence, M.D. and pediatric cardiologist, Janine Cunningham, M.D.
In summarizing our programming activities throughout the past 30 years, The Jackson County Missouri Chapter of The Links, Incorporated acknowledges the support of our sponsors, patrons and friends. For this we say thank you!
Jackson County Missouri Chapter of The Links, Incorporated
Link Inez Y. Kaiser