Deltas Recognize Five For Their 'Lighthouse Effect'

Markeshia Ricks | March 19th, 2024

Deltas Recognize Five For Their 'Lighthouse Effect'

Culture & Community


The members of the New Haven Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. staged a lighthouse themed brunch based on Steve Pemberton's book The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have Extraordinary Impact in the World to honor five organizations that serve as beacons of light in their community.


With the smooth sounds of Dexter’s Lab providing the soundtrack, a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ in New Haven filled a room at Birchwoods Banquet Facility in Woodbridge Saturday to affirm their support for the everyday heroes that help others. 

Necks were hugged, cheeks were kissed, and chair dancing and singing were encouraged, all in the name of showcasing the people and organization dedicated to serving others. Service is a hallmark of the sorority, which staged its first public act of service by marching in a women's suffrage parade in Washington D.C. in 1913.

IMG_3626New Haven Alumnae First Vice President Katrina Rice and President Paula Irvin with a Community Baptist  Church trustee.

The Lighthouse Awards are recognitions bestowed upon organizations for their outstanding contributions and guidance in promoting equality, empowerment, and progress,” New Haven Alumnae Chapter President Paula Irvin, said in an email promoting the event. “The award aims to honor organizations who serve as beacons of hope, guiding others towards a more inclusive and equitable society.”

This year’s recipients of the Lighthouse Awards were Community Baptist Church, Connecticut Community Outreach Revitalization Program (ConnCORP), Leadership, Education & Athletics in Partnership (LEAP), Sisters’ Journey Inc. and Total Joy Are You (TJAY) Autism Foundation.

IMG_3688The event was a bit of a full circle moment for LEAP Executive Director Henry Fernandez who recalled his high school self learning to dance the minuet and donning a white tuxedo, red bowtie and cummerbund while serving as an escort for a debutante cotillion put on by the members of Delta Sigma Theta in his hometown of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 

He said the investment in such novel experiences for young people, as that was for him at the time, informs a great deal of what LEAP does and its paid off. When he asked those in the room who had some connection to LEAP to stand, nearly everyone came to their feet.


New Haven Alumnae recognized Sisters' Journey (top photo) and the men of TJAY Foundation.

Being a connector to resources and a lifeline to others was a through line in Saturday’s brunch celebration: Community Baptist’s food pantry has gone from serving just 10 families to thousands over the years while TJAY Autism Foundation and Sisters’ Journey provide support to those faced with the realities of navigating unexpected diagnoses while Black. Meanwhile, ConnCorp is reinvigorating the historic Dixwell community with a transformative development across the street from the Dixwell Community Q House, where LEAP serves as an anchor.

IMG_3664ConnCORP CEO Erik Clemon's used an analogy about a stand of Aspen trees and how they help each other during times of sickness among them to sum up the why and what of his organization and the others being recognized in the room.

He said the trees use their roots--their shared connection--to deliver nutrients to the sick and in need among them until they are well, reminding everyone that people must be better than trees because there are those who need them to be.