You could tell the story of Lamba Tau Omega through numbers. $25,000 in scholarships for African-American youth. 700 pairs of eyeglasses donated. 230 cases of water sent to the Bahamas. 400 non-perishable items donated to Rich Township Food Pantry.
Even with those impressive figures, the story of LTO rests on the shoulders of the 256 members, the local women who dedicate their time and resources to giving back to the community in the name of sisterhood.
A large mission made local
Lambda Tau Omega is the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, an international organization comprising 300,000 members, according to the AKA website.
AKA was established in 1908 by nine female undergraduate students at Howard University in Washington D.C.
“It was the first sorority for college educated African-American females. Because, of course, we weren’t allowed to join the others,” said Marilyn Hamb, president of LTO and an AKA member since her freshman year at Northwestern University.
Hamb later graduated with a degree in chemistry; she went on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Illinois Institute of Technology and worked at IBM for 33 years until her recent retirement.
Joining AKA was an outlet for finding community and a sense of cultural camaraderie. As a new college student in a predominantly white institution, “the music at a dance wasn’t what I would listen to or dance to,” Hamb said.
Joining AKA allows African-American women to socialize, connect and network. However, from its founding, Hamb said AKA was conceived as an organization focused on providing service and promoting scholarly achievement.
AKA now boasts nearly 400 undergraduate chapters at colleges and universities, mostly concentrated in the eastern United States.
“As the women graduated from college, they wanted to continue to serve, so they created graduate chapters,” Hamb said. “All of our members are college educated, graduated professionals.”
These members comprise nearly 600 chapters, located in more varied areas of the country than their undergraduate chapters, reflecting the movement of AKA members as they become working professionals and influencers around the country.
Several chapters operate in the South Suburbs, including LTO, which has members from Homewood, Flossmoor and several surrounding towns.
“We serve the community in which we live, and we’re very proud of that,” said Hamb, a Homewood resident.