The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Madison alumnae chapter will host their annual Heart and Soul Ball event on Feb. 13, and the organizers know just how important the event is for the futures of young area scholars.

“This is the 21st year that the Madison Alumnae chapter has hosted this event. A huge percentage of the proceeds go towards supporting our educational programs as well as giving out scholarships to Madison high school students to get them to college,” Heart and Soul Ball co-chair Janine Stephens tells Madison365. “Since we started, we’ve given out $60,000 in scholarships to our local youth. That’s huge! This is our signature event of the year and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without this event and without the community’s continuous support over the years.”

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Madison alumnae chapter at a previous Heart and Soul Ball
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Madison alumnae chapter at a previous Heart and Soul Ball

Delta Sigma Theta is a non-profit Greek-lettered sorority of college-educated women who perform public service and place emphasis on the African American community. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded on January 13, 1913 by 22 collegiate women at Howard University. These students wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to persons in need.

Twenty-two women chartered the alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta in August 1977 in Madison. Membership is now up to 55 women who work within the community to support different health initiatives, educational initiatives, economic development initiatives, art initiatives and more.

Janine Stephens
Janine Stephens

Stephens, who has been a Delta for 12 years, will be co-chairing this year’s event with Jacquesha McFarlane. She had co-chaired the event before and was called back into the role after last year’s event co-chairs moved out of the city. “Thing are coming together well. We still would like to get ticket sells going a bit but you know how people can be in Madison … some people like to wait until last minute to get tickets,” Stephens says.

This year’s event is titled “22 Shades of Red: A Night of Intrigue.”

“We’re trying to do something a little different this year. Each year, we try to come up with a great theme,” Stephens says. “This year, we decided to make a theme that was a little more intriguing and a little more appealing to the eye. We are going to be throwing in a few things that tie into Valentine’s Day since it is on that weekend and send people home with some goodie bags and treats. We’re really excited about celebrating love and coming together as a community. It’ll be a good time.”

The event is for all ages. Well, all adult ages. “We are all varied in ages ourselves [as Deltas] so we expect our crowd to be the same way. And every year it is,” Stephens says. “The Delta Heart and Soul Ball is always a huge mix of ages and genders. That’s one of the great things about this event is how we all come together and get along.”

After a couple years at the Concourse Hotel and a year at Union South, the Deltas decided that the DoubeTree downtown would be this year’s location for their annual event. “The DoubleTree just did a huge renovation so it’s really beautiful in there right now,” Stephens says. “They have been very accommodating and we’re excited to be there this year.

“We have great food, music, and entertainment lined up for the event and it’s a good chance to mix and mingle with community members,” Stephens adds. “We will be also recognizing honorees who have been supportive of our chapter and supportive of the greater community.”

As always, the Heart and Soul Ball will have hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar and Delta Vanessa McDowell, a.k.a. DJ Ace, will be keeping people out on the dance floor as she has the past few years. The Madison Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. will be honoring three people and organizations this year at the event with their Heart and Soul Humanitarian Awards.

Jacqueline Hunt
Jacqueline Hunt

One of the honorees will be Jacqueline Hunt, a chemical abuse specialist at Journey Mental Health Center and an outstanding and impactful community member in Madison. The Deltas will also be honoring Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development, who work to engage the greater Madison community to empower indigenous African American individuals, families, and communities to bring about hope, transformation, and justice.

The third honoree for the event will be the Madison City Clerk’s Office. “That is something new. For us, they have been a big partner in helping us with voter registration,” Stephens says. “Deltas are a huge public service organization and one of our issues is social action and getting people registered to vote. The Madison City Clerk’s Office has been a great partner of ours for years. We thought this would be a great time to honor them, as well.”

For 39 years, the Deltas have made a positive difference in Dane County. “We are looking forward to our 40th next year. That will be big,” Stephens says. “But our next big thing we will focusing on after Heart and Soul will be our Statewide Founder’s Day coming up in March.
“The entire state of Wisconsin will come together and recognize our founders at this event,” she adds. “We will be partnering with the Milwaukee Alumni Chapter as far for planning the event. It will take place here in Madison at the Radisson Hotel the weekend of March 18-20. It’s open to the public.”

In the meantime, why not consider coming out to the Delta’s annual Heart and Soul Scholarship Fundraiser on Valentine’s Day weekend? It’s an event, Stephens says, for everybody.

“We’d like to extend an invitation to everybody in town,” she says. “If you’re looking for something exciting to do on Valentine’s Day weekend and you don’t want to stay in the house, this is the place to come to have a good time with a great group of people.”

But what if I don’t have date? Will the Deltas be my valentine? “Absolutely,” laughs Stephens. “We know that people who come will have fun, but more importantly they will be supporting a great cause.”

The Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. will present the 2016 Heart and Soul Scholarship Ball Saturday, Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.-midnight at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Madison.
Tickets are $35 General Admission/$25 Students (w/a current student ID). For tickets please contact any member of the Madison Alumnae Chapter or e-mail [email protected].