BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For decades, historically black fraternities and sororities have made service away of life. Known as the "Divine 9", these local organizations are making major contributions to the community.
"We're here to make sure that we all make it to the next level together," said Kent Olden, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
In order of founding year, organizations in the D9 are:
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Founded 1906)
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Founded 1908)
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Founded 1911)
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Founded 1911)
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Founded 1913)
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (Founded 1914)
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (Founded 1920)
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (Founded 1922)
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (Founded 1963)
Many consider joining Greek organizations as an experience exclusive to college, but for the D9, it's a lifelong commitment.
"It's not something I just want to do, it's something that I live," said Phillip Dabney, local attorney and member of Omega Psi Phi.
"I devote 40-45% of my life to Alpha Kappa Alpha," said Ottlie Woodruff, President of the local chapter.
Each organization does community service and works towards national initiatives to make change in their communities.
"We provide over $20,0000 to high school graduates," said Vanita Jamison, President of the local Delta Sigma Theta chapter.
And that's not all. Members of Kappa Alpha Psi adopt a school annually and mentor young men. Members of Omega Psi Phi talk with young men about domestic violence and sex trafficking. Members of Alpha Phi Alpha have an initiative to help children go to college. Members of Sigma Gamma Rho hold an annual youth symposium to discuss living healthily. Members of Iota Phi Theta do voter registration drives and canned food drives.
Here's a list of groups some the D9 organizations work with:
- St. Jude's Children's Hospital (Kappa Alpha Psi)
- March of Dimes (Zeta Phi Beta, Phi Beta Sigma)
- American Cancer Society (Zeta Phi Beta)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Phi Beta Sigma)
- The Lion's Club (Alpha Kappa Alpha)
They each come with a rich history.
"Notable Alphas that most people know are Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall. Locally, we have Mayor Byron Brown," said Darnell Cummings.
"It's a sisterhood, working in the community is a big thing I love to do," said Melissa Riley, President of the local Zeta Phi Beta chapter.
It's not all business.
"95% of what we do is service, that 5% is that celebrating one another, celebrating what we stand for...and stepping is an example of us releasing that energy," Yolanda Gatewood, President of the local Sigma Gamma Rho Chapter.
Members of the Divine 9 say they take pride in coming together for a common purpose.
"In our community, sometimes our needs fall by the wayside. That's why giving back and making sure home is taken care of is so important," said Darnell Barton, member of Iota Phi Theta.