College-Community Connection Right in Our Backyard

City-Living, Student Life

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, founded in 1913, is an organization of college-educated women committed to the constructive development of its members and to public service, with a primary focus on the Black community. My chapter, the Epsilon Phi (Philadelphia City-Wide) Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was chartered on March 27, 1966, and is always working on a number of events with a focus on uplifting, informing, and educating the community. Each program upholds the principles of the sorority, embodied through the Five-Point Programmatic Thrust: Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement.


Total Woman Mind | Body | Spirit (TWMBS) was designed to engage the local Powelton/Mantua communities in new, unique, and applicable methods of self-care. The idea was to host a workshop where attendees would learn how crucial self-care is for overall health in addition to how it can affect those around them, such as friends, family, and children. The workshop included a workout session followed by a healthy luncheon. The event targeted African-American women, ages 18 to 40. This event would not have been possible without the assistance from the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and their Community Engagement Mini-Grant program. Not only did this grant provide my chapter with the necessary funding to hold the event, but it allowed us to engage with the West Philadelphia community through the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.


Planning for TWMBS began in late November of last year. When I met with Nicolette Epifani, Community Engagement Mini-Grant Coordinator, I had the opportunity to present my very first proposal. It included target audience, purpose, and some resources I had identified as beneficial for the project, such as the Community Wellness HUB. It was exciting to work with the Lindy Center, the HUB, and the Dornsife Center, as they introduced me to so many additional resources right here on-campus. Maeve Malloy, of the HUB, connected me with Drexel Faculty member Kymberlee Montgomery. Kym played a vital role in the workout portion of TWMBS. She introduced to community members, a very different form of exercise.


My greatest takeaway from this project focused on areas of collaboration, delegation, and time management.


Pound Fitness was created only seven years ago and incorporates full body movement, loud, upbeat music, and “ripstix,” commonly known as drumsticks. Kym served as our instructor for the event, and brought a full force of energy to accompany her expertise. This workout kept attendees engaged, energized, and — most of all — sweating the entire time. The luncheon was catered by Cosi, and featured half sandwiches, baked chips, and juice selections. The cherry on top of this experience was learning of Ms. Lindy’s (daughter of Mr. Lindy whom the center is named after) attendance during the Pound Fitness Event.


My greatest takeaway from this project focused on areas of collaboration, delegation, and time management. There were several challenges internally and externally, of course. However, it’s those challenges that taught me the importance of knowing my own limits, asking for help, and adaptability. This project also had such a great impact on my Drexel experience as a whole. Outside of identifying and improving on the major areas I’ve mentioned, hearing feedback from the event’s participants was extremely rewarding. Many had never heard of Pound Fitness, but this event exposed community members to a workout fit for any age! This grant gave my chapter access to the Dornsife Center in an entirely different capacity. We were able to promote the event at their monthly community dinner, which my chapter will be supporting going forth. This event also connected me with the Baring House — a 24/7 crisis nursery in the Mantua Community. The director was an event participant and opened the nursery for my viewing.


My next mission is to connect Drexel students to the Baring House, as the director is in need of volunteers and has never had a Drexel student volunteer despite it being in our own backyard. Nicolette connected my organization with two other Drexel student organizations that she felt could best contribute to my event idea because of our similar event purposes. They were Drexel’s Women’s Empowerment (WE) and American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). WE and AMWA were putting together care kits to serve as giveaways for TWMBS participants. My chapter now has a standing relationship with these two other organizations and have discussed future collaborations. The connections I made were unexpected and rewarding, not to mention the fact that the chapter received a certificate from the Lindy Center in May for our commitment to the community. This event was designed with sustainability in mind, so we hope to continue bringing this kind of self-care awareness to the community.


A video recap of this event can be viewed here:

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