The Links support of the arts can be traced to our cultured co-founder Margaret Roselle Hawkins. Her innate artistic talent, discovered at a young age, earned her a four-year scholarship to the Women’s School of Design, later known as the Moore Institute of Art. Her passion for creative expression later led to her appointment as an art teacher, and helped give root to the establishment of The Arts facet in 1964 at the 14th National Assembly.
Throughout the nation today, Links Chapters partner with museums, symphonies, arts councils, educational institutes and corporations in order to support art programs, especially where there is a focus on artists of color. Links are creating and supporting opportunities for educating minority youth in the arts and presenting and supporting performances by youth and accomplished professional artists in a diversity of disciplines.
The GOAL of The Arts facet is to increase and expand art activity, and elevate our programs through arts integration and effectively create an arts renaissance within our organization and programmatic efforts.
The Links, Incorporated established the Health and Human Services facet in response to the chronic health disparities that persist in our communities and result in the decreased life expectancy of African-Americans. This new facet brings greater focus, resources, and coordination to The Links, Incorporated’s health initiatives already in existence. With the expansion of partnerships with national health agencies, and more definitive structure and support for our health related signature programs, our mission can flourish.
The mission of the Health and Human Services facet is to promote and facilitate programs that support the maintenance of good health and the elimination of chronic health disparities in communities of color through education, health advocacy, and optimal utilization of health resources. Community education about health risks is crucial and The Links, Incorporated can play a significant role in providing it.
There has been an increase in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and stroke in ethnic communities. Obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity are all risk factors that can be modified. African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer and early detection would allow for effective treatment and cure. We will educate members about healthy lifestyles and disease prevention to ensure that we become models of the health behavior we ourselves hope to promote in our communities.
The areas of emphasis are cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and organ, tissue and blood donation. All health-related programs will find a home within the new facet. This includes our signature programs: HeartLinks, Linkages to Life, and Walk for Healthy Living , as well as the National Childhood Obesity Initiative, oral health, brain health initiatives, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure national partnership.
The VISION of the National Trends and Services facet is to eliminate disparities by reducing barriers to services through advocacy, education, and service. Our MISSION is to empower our chapters to effectively empower the communities in which we work. Our GOALS include increasing the number of sustainable and measurable programs; increasing collaborative partners and extending our existing initiatives to include communities identified as having the greatest need.
The International Trends and Services facet continues its work with Sister Cities of Durham’s Arusha Committee which was initiated by Alumna Links member Marjorie Freeman. Throughout the years, the Durham and Triangle Park Chapters of the Links, Inc. have supported Arusha orphans through donations used to provide them with uniforms, shoes, and schoolbooks so they could attend school. Over the past year, the Chapters awarded a grant to Friends of Arusha (FOA) to initiate the Zabibu Group of Daraja Mbili ward, one of the poorest areas of the city of Arusha. The group used the money to purchase sewing machines, irons and ironing tables, fabric and thread, in order to begin making the school uniforms instead of importing and purchasing the uniforms from India. These initial uniforms are intended for use by the orphans who have been previously supported, and it is hoped that eventually this would become a viable cottage industry that would allow the Zabibu Group to become a supplier of uniforms to various groups in Tanzania and provide them with some profit from their activities.
Additionally, the Arusha Committee of Sister Cities of Durham sponsors a Cyber Environmental project, working with Arusha students and teachers to encourage exchanges with Durham Public School students in the areas of culture, the arts especially music and dance, curricula, , happenings, stories, and memoirs. At present, students from Riverside High School have exchanged music and dance videos over the internet with Arusha students, and the Shepard Middle School has expressed an interest in sharing the exciting implementation of their newly inaugurated hub farm. It is anticipated that the students from Genesis Home, our Chapter’s Umbrella project, will participate in this unique initiative.
Additionally, The Durham (NC) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated will continue to participate with the Links Incorporated National International Trends and Services Facet in the Maama Kit program. Our Chapter has raised and donated funds to support the assembly and distribution of clean birth kits in Uganda. Our Chapter will support The Links, Incorporated new initiative which focuses on the high maternal and infant mortality rates in Liberia, through the construction of a Maternal Waiting Home in rural Bong County, and distribution of postnatal Maama Kits.
The Services to Youth facet is an integrated approach to preparing young people to succeed in the 21st century workforce. It has a goal of helping youth of African ancestry, from pre-school to college, discover and reach their full potential. It focuses on their concerns and well-being, while implementing programs that are responsive to the academic, cultural, health, social, career development, and mentoring needs.
The primary goals of this facet are to:
- Promote early literacy
- Implement local mentoring programs from kindergarten through college
- Close the academic achievement gaps from kindergarten through college
- Introduce and support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) education and career readiness
- Implement college readiness programs
- Increase high school and college graduation rates
- Award college scholarships and build educational endowments
- Promote and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)