The history of The River City (TN) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated runs deep in the Memphis community. The chapter celebrated 25 years of dedicated service to the local community and its global neighbors this past weekend.
River City kicked off the commemoration Sat. (May 19), at noon, with the unveiling of its second history book and presentation of its archives at the National Civil Rights Museum. Exhibits placed throughout the Hooks-Hyde Hall included documentation of how the chapter’s work and initiatives have improved the lives of families in the city and around the globe.
Attendees browsed through photos and memorabilia showcasing the chapters work through its programs, including those focused on voter education and voter registration. In 2000, River City (TN) Chapter, received grant money from the United States Census to implement a voter education program in the Memphis area. That work has continued and evolved into the I Am A Voter Collaborative, which has given more than 5,000 people a voice in local elections.
“It was a way of sharing with the community what they have helped us to do through our five national programs, The Arts, Services to Youth, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services,” said Dr. Inetta Rogers, chair of the 25th Anniversary Celebration.
“We also wanted to tell the community thank you for their support and to invite them to continue to help us have an impact on Memphis in transformative ways.”
Dr. Elma H. Mardis and Emma Jean H. Stotts, two sisters, organized a service organization called River City Sette in 1987, recruiting 30 women with varying interests and talents to help underserved youth in the greater Memphis area. The organization was eventually chartered in 1993 as an official chapter of The Links, Incorporated, one of the nation’s oldest and largest African-American women’s volunteer service organizations.
The River City (TN) Chapter was joined by special guest, the 14th Central Area Director, Dr. Delores Henderson of Minneapolis/St. Paul (MN) Chapter who was instrumental in helping charter River City in 1993. Current Central Area Director, Glenda Masingale-Manson from Central Illinois (IL) Chapter also came to help celebrate the occasion. She praised the chapter for its local and global efforts.
“They have been a part of history locally and internationally. They’ve made an impact in Jamaica. I was honored to go last year, and I saw the impact the chapter made on the children there. The school was destroyed by torrential rains. That school slid off the mountain. River City was responsible for rebuilding it,” said Masingale-Manson.
An evening gala topped off the day’s celebration. About 200 guests attended the black-tie event held at The Guesthouse at Graceland. The audience was treated to Earthy, Rock and R&B selections from Violinist Jason Lurry during dinner. Guests ended the evening dancing the night away to Old School R&B and Smooth Jazz, provided by Wendy Oliver and The Underground Band.
“I was particularly honored to have such a rewarding celebration. We were excited to have our family, friends and special guests join us. We’re looking forward to continuing our efforts to make a difference in the lives of families in the Memphis community,” said Ailene Oliver Booker, president of the River City (TN) Chapter.
River City has developed more than 30 community partners since its chartering in 1993. The chapter exhibits highlighted work done with some of those partners like The National Civil Rights Museum, Hattiloo Theatre, NAACP, and LeMoyne-Owen College.
Recently, The Links Foundation awarded a $1 million Legacy Grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help fight against sickle cell disease. The foundation has awarded a total of five grants. The National Civil Rights Museum was a previous recipient.
The River City (TN) Chapter is one of three Links chapters in the greater Mid-South area. The Links, Incorporated, has 287 chapters in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The group will charter a new chapter in London, England later this year.