The seven charter members were: Hilda Foote, Pearl Gore, Irene Edmonds, Sadie Yancey, Emily Hudson (Valdosta, Georgia), Ruth Hutto (Bainbridge, Georgia) and Thelma Walton (Thomasville, Georgia).
Hosting the Southern Area Conference, March 15-17, 1968 at the Holiday Inn, with the theme “Focusing on Youth and the Fine Arts” stands out as one of the early Chapter achievements. Link Hilda Foote served as the conference coordinator. Link Maude K. Reid, Southern Area Director, 1965-1969, was also in attendance.
The following members have been elected to serve as Area/National Officers: Link Juanita J. Johnson, Vice Southern Area Director and Eighth Southern Area Director, 1978-1981; Link Clinita A. Ford, National Treasurer, 1988-1992; Link Altha F. Manning, Southern Area Treasurer, 1993-1995; Link Bessyee G. Washington, Nominating Committee Member, 1989-1993; and Link Linda G. Dilworth, Southern Area Treasurer, 2005 – 2009. Numerous members have been appointed to serve as officers, chairmen and committee members.
The following members have been recognized for consecutive years of membership: Link Juanita J. Johnson*, 60-Year Award, 50-Year Award and 40-Year Award; Link Clinita A. Ford, Link Francies Thomas* and Link Florazelle Teele 40-Year Award; Link Kathleen Baker*, Link Pamela J. Baker, Link Dorothy Brickler, Link Ellen S. Bryant, Link Willie B. Estaras*, Link Ann Foster*, Link Leslie Harper, Link Mary L. Henry, Link Evelyn Kidd, Link Altha F. Manning, Link Alexis Roberts McMillan, Link Della Neyland*, Link Geraldine D. Roberts, Link Mary W. Roberts, Link Bettye P. Stevens, Link Bessye G. Washington and Link Dorothy P. Williams 25-Year Award. The Chapter has received the following awards: Area Chapter of the Year, Women of the Year, Services to Youth 1972, Project of the Year 1975 (silver bowl), Certificate of Appreciation for 100% Participation in The Links Foundation, Incorporated, 1992-1993, 2nd Place Chapter Umbrella Programming Award presented at the July, 2000, 32nd National Assembly (Boston, Massachusetts), 32nd National Assembly Health and Wellness Incentive Award presented July, 2000, Southern Area Childhood Obesity Prevention 1st Place Award of Excellence presented at the 37th National Assembly Southern Area Breakfast, July 2010 in Detroit, Michigan, 2nd Place Southern Area International Trends and Services Award presented at the 41st Southern Area Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 2011 and Classics through the Ages Participation Certificates of Award presented at the 37th National Assembly, July 2010 in Detroit, Michigan and also 41st Southern Area Conference, May 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana (2009 – 2011 chapter participation). The Links Foundation, Incorporated awarded a $47,000 grant to Link Dorothy P. Williams to provide scholarships for minority students pursuing careers as general medical practitioners at Florida A and M University.
Throughout 62 years of existence, the chapter’s program activities have been dedicated to service in the community and improving the quality of life for all humankind, while initially focusing on the four national program facets: The Arts, Services to Youth, National Trends and Services and International Trends and Services. The Tallahassee Chapter implemented a fifth national program facet, Health and Human Services, in September, 2010 after its adoption at the 37th National Assembly that met in Detroit, Michigan on July 1 – 3, 2010.
The Chapter holds life membership in the NAACP and shared in purchasing the local Urban League endowment. Other activities included establishing a bookmobile at Florida A and M University Hospital, providing a clothes closet for needy families, providing personal items to Leon County Prison Women’s Ward, sponsoring talented youth in the community and promoting music and arts through scholarships. Program activities have also included contributing to Miracle Hill Nursing Home, conducting voter registration drives, co-sponsoring a federal program for senior citizens at a local church, providing books and bookcases for a youth reading outreach project at Bond Library.
Additional programs and financial support have been given to the Annual FAMU Symphonic Band Concert and Reception, Annual FAMU Youth Summer Band Camp, Tallahassee Boys Choir in Concert, John G. Riley House Museum of African-American History and Culture, the Gadsden Arts Center, the LeMoyne Art Center and the Tallahassee Art Museum. In 1999 the Tallahassee Chapter designed and initiated the annual community Riley House Rock-A-Thon as a means of generating funding for the African-American Museum’s operations. Beginning September, 2003 through the present, the Chapter has partnered in community sponsorship of Jazz Jams, an arts appreciation program exposing school students to jazz education and music. In 2006 the Tallahassee Chapter partnered with James S. Rickards High School’s Millicent Holifield Academy of Health Sciences in developing a program to nurture interest in healthcare careers through establishment of the Youth Health Leadership (YHL) Initiative. For more than six years this mentoring partnership served to cultivate and support the academy’s healthcare professions aspirants and in 2013 YHL was expanded to serve high school students throughout the local area as a signature COPE (Childhood Obesity Prevention Education) Coalition Project. A communitywide YHL Youth Council resulted.
Services to Youth activities included sponsoring the “Living the Dream” program with guest speaker, Wilma Rudolph; providing special needs and mentoring to Teenage Pregnancy Project (TAPS); and supporting the Gadsden County Project Alpha, Miccosukee Headstart Center, Teddy for Tots, Kids, Incorporated of the Big Bend, Adopt-A-School and Program/Learning Involves New Kinds of Skills at Bond and Pineview Schools (1991-93), A Tribute to Black Youth-Focused Organizations and Academic Scholarships. In November 2012 the facet furnished the new home of the Distinguished Young Gentlemen’s (DYG), providing furniture at its Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
National Trends and Services projects included sponsoring the Celebrating Pioneer Black Families of Tallahassee program and supporting the following community programs: Gadsden County, Haitian Medical and Education Fund; Nassau Book Project; Links National Walk-A-Thon; Habitat for Humanity’s Housing Project; Diabetes Awareness; a diabetes clinic in the minority Bond community; Cancer Awareness Week workshops/seminars; Refuge House (battered women and children); The Shelter (homeless); Literacy Volunteers at the Leon County Public Library; Relate, Renew, Re-energize (R3): A family Wellness Program (1997 – 2004) that featured guest speakers such as Bob Green and Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders; and Link Up for Health, a community health screening and awareness project.
International Trends and Services projects included the following: contributions toward the purchase of African water wells; support of the International House Project (FAMU); Community Library in Ghana, Africa; Adopt-A-Village Mission Project Somalia; Haitian Refugees; and Village of Dubey, Haiti (1 year teacher’s salary/living expenses). In June 2000 the chapter fulfilled its pledge for construction of a school in Durban, South Africa through the “Education across the Miles” national initiative. A chapter delegation journeyed to St. Maarten on November 8 – 12, 2002 and established the Chapter’s “Moms Away from Home” Project of support to St, Maarten and international students attending Florida A and M University, Florida State University, Lively Vocational Technical Institute and Tallahassee Community College.
Since 1983 the chapter has sponsored the Annual Civic International Luncheon, and was then considered the Chapter’s major umbrella project. The proceeds have supported scholarship funds, social service agencies and community service projects. Tallahassee Chapter’s fortieth anniversary luncheon was held at the Sheraton Hotel on May 24-26, 1991. Special recognition was given to active charter members, Links Hilda Foote and Emily Hudson (since the event, both are deceased). Link Katie R. Bell, Southern Area Director and Link Maude K. Reid, Fifth Southern Area Director were in attendance. The Chapter’s 50th and Golden Anniversary celebration was held May 11-12, 2001 and included an Art Exhibit featuring the works of local artist Yvonne Tucker, a Jazz Concert performed by “The Phat Cats Band”, a Civic Luncheon that focused on the past 50 years of the chapter’s community contributions and a 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner that featured our 12th National President, Link Barbara Dixon Simpkins as keynote speaker. Our 15th Southern Area Director, Link Nancy Shade Anderson was also in attendance. Tallahassee Chapter celebrated its 60th Diamond Anniversary on May 20 – 21, 2011. Highlights of the commemoration included: “Jazz Jams for Health”, a community call to action held at City Hall’s Kleman Plaza in support of combating Childhood Obesity in partnership with the local Childhood Obesity Prevention Education (COPE) Coalition (an initiative of the Florida A&M University’s Institute of Public Health, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and consisting of 44 local partner organizations); a Links Denim and Diamonds Brunch held at Golden Eagle Country Club; and a 60th Diamond Anniversary Formal Dinner and Dance held at Hotel Duval where our 15th National President, Link Margot James Copeland provided the keynote address. National Treasurer Katherine E. Wilson and 17th Southern Area Director Mary F. Currie were also honored attendees at these festivities. Tallahassee Chapter also memorialized its 60th Anniversary through initiation of the Links Leadership Development and Character Education Program and Links Beautillion. Ten beaux debuted at the inaugural event held on March 5, 2011 at the University Center Club.
Presently the Chapter with 36 active members and 7 alumnae members, continues to make a significant impact in the community with its numerous service projects and program activities. Since 2002 chapter Platinum members have been recognized as having earned the highest possible membership honor. Historically the Chapter’s Platinum members included the following: Link Dorothy Brickler, Link Willie B. Estaras, Link Clinita A. Ford, Link Ann Foster, Link Juanita J. Johnson, Link Geraldine D. Roberts, Link Bettye P. Stevens, Link Florazelle Teele and Link Frances R. Thomas.
The Tallahassee Chapter of The Links, Incorporated was the first chapter to be chartered in the state of Florida. Mrs. Hilda Foote was the organizer. The installation service was held on May 19, 1951, at “Sunshine Manor,” the home of former President and Mrs. George W. Gore, Jr., on the campus of Florida A and M University. Link Letitia Rose, National Vice President, Dayton, Ohio, and Mrs. George F. David, Wilberforce, Ohio, were the sponsors. Link Bernice Martin was the current Southern Area Director.