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Daily Journal
     October 19, 2020      #68-293 KDJ
Breast cancer awareness is a personal mission for Dr. Yvette Rose

A personal mission: Sorority aims to increase

By Melody Brunson
Special to the Journal

Not until after she was invited to join Mu Zeta Alumnae Chapter, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority did Dr. Yvette Rose realize that breast cancer awareness was one of the sorority’s national projects.

It was the deciding factor for her.

“I really enjoyed what it stood for, the national initiatives and the sisterhood,” she said.

The sorority’s call to breast cancer awareness was personal for Dr. Rose, as she had lost a sister to the disease a few years earlier in 2013. Her sister’s birthday is Oct. 12 and not a year goes by that Rose is not busy working with Mu Zeta in October to help prevent breast cancer.

Her sister had a quick journey with cancer. She was diagnosed in September and passed away the following January.

“I really didn’t have time to process,” Rose said. “Everything happened so quickly, and she was gone. She had a difficult journey.”

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s initiative for breast cancer awareness began when the Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program was created in McDaniel’s honor and memory. The mission of the program in honor of McDaniel is to provide education and support of early detection of breast cancer, as well as research for prevention.

McDaniel was one of the founding members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority in Los Angeles in 1939. She was an American actress, singer-songwriter and comedian, and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind (1939), becoming the first African American to win an Oscar.

McDaniel lost her battle with breast cancer in Los Angeles, on Oct. 26, 1952, at the age of 57.

As part of the Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program, the Mu Zeta Alumnae Chapter plans an event each October. Last year, it hosted a formal tea with a keynote speaker and testimonials. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, the awareness event will be virtual. A Watch Party is being planned, with Queen Kisoso as the guest speaker and a testimonial from Mary A. Randle, a two-year cancer survivor.

Kisoso, BSN at Olivet Nazarene University, who is passionate about breast cancer awareness, explained why she agreed to deliver the keynote speech. “I am a black woman, and God has provided me with the knowledge and a voice that I can use to pass along good information to people, especially black women.

“I want to be a part of a community that brings about a positive change, and that comes through learning, knowing about our bodies, and knowing how to protect and take care of ourselves. I strive to be present and to use what I know to continue to learn, to serve God and humanity,” Kisoso said.

Breast cancer awareness is only one of the annual community projects for the Mu Zeta Alumnae Chapter. Its Soles for Souls program supports men, women and children in need of shoes. Members also donate socks to support the needy. Also, Mu Zeta Sigma raises money every year for March of Dimes Babies.

Three years ago, Mu Zeta Sigma hosted the Blue and Gold Christmas Carnival in conjunction with the Kankakee Public Library. Its fourth-floor auditorium was transformed into a winter carnival with games, crafts and Christmas gift giveaway items. The Salvation Army’s temporary shelter had recently closed due to budget cuts.

“We wanted the children that had to seek shelter elsewhere and other under-served populations in Kankakee County to have a wonderful Christmas. We were able to serve over 150 children,” Dr. Rose said.

Each March alumnae chapters of Sigma Gamma Rho across the United States host annual youth symposiums. The Symposium is just one initiative of its national signature programs. Since 2016 Mu Zeta Sigma has participated in this event. The focus and topics of the symposium changes every year, but one thing that does not change is the youth-centered curriculum. Some topics have included healthy living, healthy choices, social action, financial management, and leadership.

Along with the Youth Symposium Mu Zeta Sigma incorporates another national program titled Operation Big Bookbag, in which chapters provide selected schools and other facilities across the nation with book bags, textbooks, computers, and other school supplies. Mu Zeta Sigma has collected and distributed over 100 book bags and school supplies for students in Kankakee County.

In addition, a scholarship committee awards two or three annual scholarships to qualified recipients to seniors at Kankakee, St. Anne and Momence high schools.

The membership

Members of Mu Zeta Alumnae Chapter, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority include:

Dr. Yvette Rose, president

Elizabeth Frazier, vice president

Chena Baity

Merilyn Brown

Melody Grier-Caldwell

Erica Carr

Portia Cephus

Florence Edwards

Katrina Funches

Jan Gathing

Helen Green

Kathy Grier

Timbolin Holmes

Shirley Hudson

Priscilla Jackson

Ashley Johnson

Barbara King

Asia Moore

Ruby Nelson

Gayle Placide

Renee Rucker

Monica Smith

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Bringing awareness to breast cancer is a national initiative for Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, with the local chapter hosting an event annually in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Photo provided