“We’re a sorority, we’re a sisterhood. So, yes, we are tight,” exclaims Terri Strong, president of Delta Sigma Theta alumnae chapter. The close-knit group of African-American women will gather with friends, family, and community members at Union South on Saturday, Feb. 11, to host their 22nd annual Heart and Soul Ball.
This year’s Heart and Soul Ball focuses on fundraising for scholarships for deserving high school seniors in the Dane County area. Delta Sigma Theta originated at Howard University in January 1913 and Madison’s alumni chapter was founded in August 1977. The predominately African-American international sisterhood also stands to promote academic excellence, provide support to the underserved, stimulate participation in the establishment of positive public policy and highlight issues and provide solutions within their communities.
“It first started out a long, long time ago as an event that would bring awareness to heart health. But, over the years it just really grew until it became our scholarship ball,” Strong tells Madison365.
This year’s theme, “An Affair of the Heart: A Celebration of Excellence, Love and Heart Health,” returns to the core values introduced in the very first ball. The theme will promote “awareness of heart health, and how we need to be eating right, exercising right and taking care of our hearts,” says Strong.
The Heart and Soul ball acts as the chapter’s main fundraising event and is guided by committee chairs, Kiana McCoy and Isatu Hughes, and their dedication to planning, which started back in August of last year. The ball includes food and drink, dancing, live entertainment from local artists and the presentation of three community impact awards.
The alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta started in Madison with 22 members back in 1977. They have been very active in the local community hosting health fairs, career fairs for high school students, voter information drives, food drives, programs to assist African American at-risk adolescent girls, and more. Every year, the Heart and Soul Ball is a chance for them to recognize other commmunity members doing great work. This year, the Deltas will honor the UW Carbone Cancer Center, John Milton and Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” Madison for their excellent and motivating work performed within the Madison community.
“We just really want to recognize those individuals and organizations that have made an impact on the Madison community, specifically the African-American community,” says McCoy.
The UW Carbone Cancer center has helped spread awareness about various types of cancers by holding workshops with Madison Alumnae Chapter members, as well as going out to different churches and discussing different types of cancers, what signs to look out for, and how to communicate concerns to medical professionals.
Additionally, John Milton from La Follette High School has helped coordinate Madison alumni mentorship of young women. Sabrina Madison has also helped to participate in mentoring and securing positive role models for young women at La Follette and is very active in the greater Madison community on a variety of fronts.
“We give out awards to honor and showcase individuals and organizations that are doing similar work to what we’re doing,” says Strong, a 35-year member of the Deltas, “but mostly ones that are empowering our community, that are providing leadership opportunities and that keep on educating us on what’s happening in the world today.”
Organizers expect more than 200 people including chapter members, families, and the general public. The Madison Alumnae Chapter will be looking to exceed last year’s $7,500 contribution to the M.A.C. scholarship with donations, ticket sales, and support from sponsors. The Heart and Soul Ball involves a night of fun, surrounded by strong leaders and teachers, while embracing a strong sense of community.
This piece was produced by a student reporter in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more and support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.