A group of Prince George’s County women have long-committed themselves to ensuring that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of and directive for offering service to local communities continues where digital technology and social media reign supreme in today’s society.
The county’s chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction (TLOD) hosted its sixth annual prayer breakfast Saturday, Jan. 13 at Martin’s Camelot in Upper Marlboro. The nonprofit organization, since receiving its charter Aug. 30, 2009, has served by example including conducting visits to senior citizen homes and women’s shelters and participating in the county’s annual health fair at the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
“When you live in the area, you have to impact the area because you’re not just a resident where you live,” said Kristen Kimble, who chaired the breakfast and serves as the group’s chaplain. “I have learned as a woman, you can’t help everybody. But you can use the gifts you have to make a difference for somebody.”
Chapter organizer and former president (2009-2013) Lady Jacqueline L. Wilcher, shares the following message about the mission which the group’s members believe lies ahead.
“Prince George’s County is the ‘wealthiest’ county for African Americans in the nation and according to 2013 estimates, there are 900,000 residents. But we still face challenges with crime, deteriorating schools and health care, among others that lead us to one of two responses,” she writes.
“The first is to turn away from these problems and focus on creating a good life for ourselves and our small personal circle. The second response is to decide that there are so many problems on so many levels of our society that the only chance we have of making progress is if we, as individuals and families and groups, all chip in. This response is based on the idea that ordinary people, not just the government, have an important day-to-day role to play in addressing problems and in making life better in our communities.”
“In other words, there are a lot of ways for all of us to make a difference and our communities would be better if we all did a little more. Yes, there are challenges facing our community. But with challenges bring opportunities,” she notes.
The Prince George’s County Chapter provides mentoring and networking opportunities for middle and high school students 13 and older, working toward encouraging youth to reach higher academic standards and collaborating with other organizations in order to “raise awareness of the negative words used to describe African-American youth and women and obtain greater appreciation for ethnic and cultural heritage.”
The 146 women and 139 teenagers in the TLOD Prince George’s chapter represent the largest in Area II with groups from Vermont to Richmond, Virginia.
Kym Elder, chapter president, said every woman and teenager are members of both the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP. When women are inducted into the organization, they all receive the title of “Lady.”
She added that the organization recently volunteered in the Mayor’s Masked Ball, held on Jan. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Northwest – a social event that raises money for the United Negro College Fund.
“Without giving back and helping one another, and specifically assisting those in need, we all fall short of living out our full destinies and potential,” she said. “We all have something to offer and assist someone. As a community and nation, we will fall short if we choose not to aid a fellow man [or] woman.”
Wilcher says their mission remains the same, just as it has been since the organization’s founding in 1964 in Tyler, Texas – to provide quality service to youth and adults, serving the community with enthusiasm, energy and excitement aligning with their national theme of “investing in values that support, enhance and sustain.”
WI Editor D. Kevin McNeir contributed to this article.