The sixteen charter members were: Mrs. William A. Clement (Josephine), Mrs. David Cooke (Barbara), Mrs. Robert Dawson (Julia), Mrs. Vashon Eagleson (Frances), Dr. Helen G. Edmonds, Mrs. Harry J. Edmonds (Rebecca), Mrs. C. Durham Grandy (Ophelia), Mrs. James S. Lee (Mollie), Mrs. Herman H. Riddick (Lola), Mrs. Alexander Rivera, Jr., (Hazel), Mrs. William H. Robinson (Fannie), Mrs. Charles C. Spaulding (Mae Bass), Mrs. John S. Stewart (Otelia), Mrs. Albert L. Turner (Dessa), Mrs. Chalres D. Watts (Constance), and Mrs. John S. Wheeler (Selena).
The first official meeting of the duly installed The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated was held November 11, 1958 at the home of the Chapter’s first president.
During the past 50 years, The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated members using their time, talents and personal financial resources have developed and implemented numerous local projects in support of The Links, Incorporated’s four facets: The Arts, Services to Youth, National Trends and Services, and International Trends and Services. The Durham (NC) Chapter has been and continues to be committed to educational, cultural and civic projects to benefit humanity, primarily those of African descent.
Throughout the early years, the Chapter focused on local projects. These included establishing a Milk Fund for school children who needed extra nourishment; providing books and other educational supplies and material for economically disadvantaged school children; sponsoring academic development and self image projects for Durham’s youth; and providing scholarships for youth talented in the arts and academics.
Beginning in the mid 60’s, the Chapter focused on providing financial resources to support and contribute to national organizations identified by The Links, Incorporated 1964 National Assembly. These organizations were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Urban League. Also, the Chapter donated books and classical records to Stanford L. Warren Library.
In the early 70’s, The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated supported the National body’s decision to provide funds to the Sickle Cell Disease Research Fund at Howard University School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). On December 11, 1959, a Charity Ball was the Durham Chapter’s first fundraiser to support the Milk Fund. The second fundraiser was a Links’ Theater Party in 1973 which made possible greater participation in the National projects. Most of the local and national projects undertaken during the first eighteen years were paid for with financial resources from Chapter members. However, beginning in the early eighties the Durham Chapter sponsored art auctions, bargain sales and galas to raise funds for local charities and projects.
Between 1980 and 2008 fundraising projects consisting of primarily Art Auctions generated $85,000 to support a variety of charities, community projects and organizations. In addition to fund raisers, Chapter members used their own resources to support and make financial contributions to local and national organizations. Habitat for Humanity, The Art Museum at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) art and music programs for Durham youth, the Washington Merrick Magazine for the Blind and an Endowed Scholarship at North Carolina Central University through the Southern Area’s Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) Scholarship Endowment Initiative have been among the many local organizations to receive contributions from The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated members. Also, Chapter members made contributions internationally by providing funds for the Maama Kits Initiative to combat high infant and maternity mortality in Africa, primarily for residents of Uganda and providing school supplies for the ten schools in South Africa that were established by The Links, Incorporated. Major support from Chapter members was provided to Arusha, Tanzania. It included adopting children, providing scholarships and funding for the regional library.
The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has raised and donated over $150,000 for charities and other community service organizations. These organizations included: support for Lincoln Community Health Center, Durham County General Hospital, The Durham Striders, Habitat for Humanity, Stanford L. Warren Library, The Durham Nativity School, Durham Housing Authority Scholarship, John Avery Boys and Girls Club, Community Health Coalition, Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow Program, North Carolina Central University Museum of Art, North Carolina Central University Scholarship Endowment, Urban Ministries, Minority Youth Leadership Agenda 2000, Students Taking Academic Responsibility (STAR) Program at Hillside High School, “Reading Buddies” at W. G. Pearson Elementary School, Moms are Grand, Duke University Hospital bone-marrow transplant unit, Durham Volunteer Center, Durham Public Schools, Hayti Heritage Center and Genesis Home.
The United Negro College Fund, National Urban League and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Civil Rights Museum at Memphis, Tennessee are among the national charities that have benefited from the Chapter’s financial contributions.
The Chapter collaborated with several local organizations to bring projects and services to the community. These organizations are the Junior League of Durham, the Junior League of Raleigh, the League of Women Voters, Durham Volunteer Bureau, Good Will Industries Auxiliary, Communities in Schools, Women-In-Action, and Jack and Jill of America. In 1991, Chapter members partnered with the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to provide sweat equity to build a Habitat House. The Chapter was the first Black group and the first women’s organization to sponsor a Habitat House in Durham, Wake or Orange counties.
In 2007, The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated partnered with The Center for Child and Family Health of North Carolina to conduct a community symposium on prevention and treatment of the effects of children’s maltreatment and exposure to violence. Over 100 individuals participated in this symposium.