MU ZETA LAMBDA-ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY

MU ZETA LAMBDA-ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY

Impacting Lives

BY LORRAINE BLOETH VALERINO

“You just never know the impact you may have on a child’s life,” said Phillip Walker, 60, the intake membership chairman for the Mu Zeta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity whose popular Men of Tomorrow program has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of young black men for more than three decades.

“It’s like they say about it taking a village to raise a child; it’s important to mentor young African American males – many of whom come from lower socio-economic backgrounds or who don’t have positive male role models in their lives,” said Walker, a founding member of the local alumni chapter of the national fraternity.

Alpha-PaintYourHeartOut

An annual holiday gift basket project, benefitting area needy families, is but one of the many community-minded projects in which Alpha Phi Alpha has immersed itself since principle founders Lynwood Bell Sr. and Walker got the ball rolling Oct. 7, 1975.

Joining them were like-minded men: William Balloon, William O. Bunch, D.D.S., the late Frank Conoly, Green P. Hankerson, Rudolph Holloman, Walter A. Lamar, Jr., Reginald Ligon, D.D.S., Charles McGriff, Hugh R. Mills, William Starks, David Stephens, James Thomas III, Joshua Williams, D.D.S. and the late J. A. Wiltshire, M.D.

Walker, a Lakeland City Commissioner and local business owner, has been pleased with how this organization has reached out to area youth and has encouraged other organizations to do the same. The alumni chapter is open to Alpha Phi Alpha collegiate graduates as well as adult men with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

Mentoring young men has been the major focal point for the organization. Its “Men of Tomorrow” (MOT) youth development and leadership training program has successfully provided guidance to area high school teens – encouraging them socially and educationally – to improve their lives.

“The MZL Education Foundation, Inc. along with Mu Zeta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. oversees and operates the MOT Program,” said current chapter president Albert Cummings III, 31, a graduate of FAMU. “Since the early 1980s, Mu Zeta Lambda Chapter, Inc. has been working together to help young teenagers make the right decisions surrounding sexuality, drugs, violence and attitudes.”

“The Men of Tomorrow Program helps youth by creating a safe environment where young teenagers can learn about and explore their peer and adult relationships as well as creating and building leadership qualities that prepare them for real life,” said Cummings, adding the organization’s annual college tour program provides an opportunity for teen members to visit colleges throughout Florida. “We visit a number of Florida colleges and universities and have even traveled to Georgia.” In addition, MOT is active with community service projects.

“The members of Mu Zeta Lambda Chapter, Inc. are both talented and unique,” said Cummings. “Our members are known for their contributions and impacts to communities. Some of our members are educators, principals, attorneys, politicians, pastors, insurance agents, executive directors, community activists and leaders in their own professions.”

“A lot of young men in our community don’t have a positive role model,” said Cummings, noting the Men of Tomorrow program is conducted monthly at the Lakeland Police Department The Alpha Phi Alpha monthly meetings are conducted in various locales including member’s homes and businesses. To learn more about MOT, visit the group’s website at www.mzlfoundation.org.

Recently celebrating its 38th anniversary, the Polk County Board of County Commissioners presented the local chapter with a proclamation during its Oct. 1 meeting. Member Antwan Key participated in the recognition ceremony that was led by Polk County Commissioner Todd Dantzler.

In addition to the MOT program, the Mu Zeta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha actively supports Relay for Life North Lakeland, Polk County’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Paint Your Heart Out Lakeland. Members also enjoy social activities that include softball events and fundraising events like a recent dance to raise money for scholarships.

“On average, we have been able to award more than $5,000 in scholarship money annually,” said Walker. “We need more programs out there like this to reach more young people.”

 

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