Southfield-area sorority supports local schools with supplies

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published September 9, 2021

 Southfield-area sorority supports local schools with supplies

Southfield-area sorority supports local schools with supplies

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SOUTHFIELD — Close to a thousand students in Southfield are returning to school this year well-equipped to learn, thanks to donations from a sorority in partnership with local businesses and community groups.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Pi Gamma Zeta Chapter of Southfield (PGZ) organized the drive, which included about 400 backpacks stuffed with school supplies given away at Southfield Public Schools’ Back to School Fair Aug. 19, and about another 400 backpacks with supplies given to students attending Laurus Academy, also in Southfield, as part of the sorority’s adopt-a-school initiative titled “PGZ Has Your Back” Aug. 18.

The supplies were tailored to each grade level and placed inside the backpacks. They include such items as scissors, erasers, ink pens, pencils, glue sticks, notebooks, crayons, rulers, highlighters, pencil cases, markers, folders and more.

Thirty local businesses, community members and organizations in the metro Detroit area supported the program, the goal being to make education more financially accessible.

“These essentials reduce barriers to education and provide a foundation for children to begin the school year with self-confidence,” Lisa Maximore, PGZ’s second vice president and community service chair, said in an email. “Once that has been achieved, students are prepared to learn.”

PGZ has served the Southfield community for 26 years. Its list of contributions is long and includes charitable donations to Volunteers of America.

At Laurus Academy, the chapter organizes book drives, guest readings, themed days and efforts to welcome students back to in-person learning.

At the Lahser Hills Care Center, PGZ has provided seasonal items to improve quality of life. Due to the pandemic, visitors weren’t allowed last year, but the chapter still donated gifts for the holidays and prizes to be won in games.

Last year, during the presidential election, PGZ fed poll workers at all 36 precincts in Southfield — part of its “Stroll to the PollZ” initiative. PGZ also participated in the Southfield Farmers to Families Food Box distribution, helping feed the community amid the pandemic.

Through the program, PGZ volunteers distributed food at Southfield High School for the Arts & Technology. Cars lined the parking lot and extended down the streets, and PGZ volunteers filled the trunks and hatchbacks of each with fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and dairy products.

“Serving the community in this way allowed us to see the smiles on residents’ faces as we greeted them and loaded the vehicles with free food, bringing joy to them and us through community service,” Brittany Mackie, the sorority’s secretary, said in an email.  

PGZ also donated to the food pantry at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Southfield, and raised funds for March for Babies. In addition, the group gave college scholarships to high school students and held free educational Zoom presentations on heart health and financial literacy.

The overarching sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, was founded in 1920 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and now has a membership of more than 100,000 college-educated women. Chapters are found across North America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East. Zeta Phi Beta was the first sorority to charter a chapter in Africa.

PGZ itself was chartered on Jan. 3, 1995. The chapter currently has 35 members and is the only Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. chapter in the city of Southfield.

“We are small, yet mighty, powerful and gifted,” said Lesley Penn, PGZ’s president, in an email. “Many of our chapter members live, work and own businesses in Southfield. Thus, our passion for the prosperity of Southfield is deeply rooted.”

She commended her colleagues for their ongoing efforts.

“As the new president of the Pi Gamma Zeta Chapter, I … am proud of my sorority sisters, especially Soror Dr. Lisa Maximore, in how they go above and beyond in an effort to provide service to the city of Southfield, and continue to set the bar high,” she said. “Sisterhood is what it’s all about!”