The Links, Incorporated
Montgomery (AL) Chapter
The Montgomery (AL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, chartered in 1958, has a rich history of community service to children, youth, and adults. The twenty-one charter members of the chapter were influential educators, civil rights pioneers, and community activists. Impressed with the purposes of membership in The Links, Incorporated, these influential citizens formed an interest group after having executed civic contributions during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Led by Mary Fair Burks, the interest group was encouraged and advised by Bessie Nelms, a Montgomery native and national officer of The Links, Incorporated. The Birmingham (AL) Chapter sponsored the interest group and after a year of service, the Montgomery (AL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated was chartered on December 8, 1958. As a result of her leadership in the chartering process, Mary Fair Burks, received the distinction of being the chapter’s organizer.
The charter members gathered on the campus of Alabama State University for the momentous chapter chartering. Charter members of the chapters are: Cynthia Alexander, Thelma Anderson, Sadie Brooks, Mary Fair Burks, Maggie Daniels, Faustine Dunn, Thelma Glass, Fannie Jones, Coretta Scott King, Annie Lowe, Thelma Morris, Ive Pettus, Zoeline Pierce, Betty Pindle, Joann Robinson, Willease Simpson, Cleoni Taylor, Portia Trenholm, Ruth Vines, Leola Whitted, and Fannie Nelms Wright. Leola Whitted served as the first chapter president and assisted Mary Fair Burks with the event planning.
For more than half a century, the Montgomery (AL) Chapter has worked to enrich the lives of others through signature and award-winning community-based programs. In the Services to Youth Facet, the chapter has received regional and national recognition for its Gifted Children’s Project, which began in 1960. This project offered many challenging and rewarding experiences for approximately 500 Montgomery youth, representing five high schools and two junior high schools in the county. Alumni of the Gifted Children’s Project have subsequently served as consultants at chapter-sponsored career seminar luncheons and at receptions honoring outstanding high school seniors.
Under the direction of chapter member and Southern Area Arts Director, Callie Warren, the Montgomery Links sponsored successful arts camps in the early years, enrolling students from chapters throughout the Southern Area. The camps, held on the campus of Alabama State University, gave students an opportunity to spend a week studying with Master teachers in art, writing, music, and dance.
The chapter has also sponsored several Project Lead workshops at local elementary schools and at the summer Neighborhood Youth Sports Program on the campus of Alabama State University. The chapter has distributed 800 Homework Planning Guides to students to develop their planning and study skills, and has provided additional resource books for teachers. In support of the Southern Area’s Services to Youth initiative, Teddies for Tots, the chapter donated a collection of teddy bears to Madison Park Hope Center. Transformational programming on childhood obesity prevention; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy have provided extended learning opportunities for personal and career development of youth. A strong collaborative with area Historically Black Colleges and Universities has been a significant component of the chapter’s programming for over fifty years.
In The Arts Facet, the chapter’s activities have included scholarships to local art students; exhibitions of local artists’ works; collaboratives with the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Black Arts Festivals, and the Arts Camps; and sponsorship of art contests for local students. The chapter sponsored students in a summer program housed on the Alabama State Campus. The program, known as the Theater Artist Performance School (TAPS), has contributed significantly to the organization’s support of emerging artists.
Highlights of the chapter’s projects in the National Trends and Services Facet include voter registration drives; contributions to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Urban League’s Upward Reach, and Outward Thrust Program; establishment of a local clothes bank; and a partnership with the local Job Corps Center to support applicants and candidates throughout the nation. As a women’s organization, The Montgomery (AL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has been particularly sensitive to the needs and achievements of women. A concentration on advocacy of issues impacting the elderly has also guided programming throughout the chapter’s history of service to the community.
The chapter’s global presence has been documented through its strategic plan for International Trends and Services. The chapter has contributed Maama Kits for safe childbirth in third world countries, especially in Africa, Haiti, and the Bahamas. Through the national signature program, Education Across The Miles, the chapter has contributed educational materials and technological equipment to schools in Africa and Jamaica. Bottles of water to promote clean and safe potable water for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene in addition to seedlings for environmental protection have been given to Haiti in the name of the chapter. A Pill Bottle Conservation Project to assist third-world countries, with emphases on Jamaica, Haiti, and Africa, is a partnership established with the Montgomery Advertiser in order to provide containers for medical prescriptions for citizens who otherwise would have to transport medications through unsanitary methods.
Project Walking Fete, a national initiative, has been a component of the chapter’s sustainable programming under the Health and Human Services Facet. (Project Walking Fete is a national initiative of The Links, Incorporated that is designed to promote healthy living through nutrition and exercise.) Emphasis on cardiovascular health has been presented to the Montgomery (AL) Community through community forums and radio and television talk show appointments. Presentations that include presentations by leading physicians and the distribution of health educational materials are examples of the chapter’s strategic leadership in the promotion of the national organization’s HeartLinks to Heart Health. (The “National Red Dress Event” has also been included in the chapter’s scheduling for the promotion of heart health awareness.) Awareness and prevention forums focusing on other prevalent diseases and health issues in the community have been scheduled in partnership with fraternal and civic organizations, faith-based institutions, and educational agencies. Topics have included, but are not limited to, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast health.
As a premier volunteer organization in the River Region, the Montgomery (AL) Chapter has contributed significantly to the educational, cultural, and civic development and life of the community since 1958.