Sunday, March 26, 2017

Unbreakable Links

The Links, Incorporated Las Vegas Chapter celebrates a landmark anniversary — and welcomes the 40th National Links Assembly to Mandalay Bay Resort.

The Links, Incorporated is an international non-profit organization that was established on Nov. 9, 1946 by two women from Philadelphia — Margaret Hawkins and Sarah Scott.

Today, its U.S. membership consists of nearly 14,000 professional African-American women in 282 chapters across 41 states.

The organization’s Las Vegas Chapter will celebrate its 40th Anniversary on May 1 — and coincidentally, the 40th National Links Incorporated Assembly will convene more than 3,000 women in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort on June 29-July 3.

Anna Bailey, a platinum alumni member of the Las Vegas chapter, offered a historical perspective:

There was initially an interest group formed before the chapter, to see how many women in Las Vegas were interested in joining the prestigious group. The person who spearheaded the organization in Las Vegas was Thelma Toms — who was originally from San Francisco, where many were familiar with the Links organization. The initial Links Incorporated interest group was formed in 1974 and some of those ladies who participated included Margie Elliott; Margie Collins; Nora Wilson; Lubertha Johnson; Nina Keller; Dorothy West; Thelma Toms; Mabel Hoggard and myself. It took two years to receive our Las Vegas charter — and some of the ladies from the interest group dropped out before we established the organization, because there was doubt that it would happen. The first Links Incorporated chapter was formed in 1976. We gave many art shows, and brought nationally recognized speakers to Las Vegas. Also, we worked with our community youth, and I organized and chaired the Las Vegas Talented Teens — where we took the winner of the local competition to the national Talented Teens competition in California.

Maxine Porter

Las Vegas chapter member Maxine Porter said there is new energy around the local anniversary celebration — due to the excitement surrounding the 40th National Links Assembly’s plan to convene in Las Vegas under the theme “Inspire, Connect, and Engage.”

“The Las Vegas Links, Incorporated members are very enthusiastic to welcome our National Links Assembly to Las Vegas,” said Porter, “and we look forward to serving as a support service and participating in the festivities.”

Bailey indicates that the original Links Incorporated Las Vegas chapter first hosted the Links National Assembly in 1982.

Said Bailey: “Those first members of the Links Incorporated Las Vegas Chapter included many Las Vegas icons such as: Edna Perkins; Inez Archie; Shirley Barber; Charlotte Cook; Hazel Gay; Rosalyn Guy; Pamela Ice, MD; Deborah Moore; Evelyn O’Quinn; Maggie Pearson; Dorothy West; Lillian Scott; Lois Ice; Cheryl Florence; Juanita Smith; Bobbie Troutman; Sharon Willis; Thelma Toms and myself.”

Focusing on five pillars of community involvement — Services to Youth; The Arts; National Trends and Services; International Trends; and Services and Health and Human Services — The Links, Incorporated Las Vegas Chapter gives over $15,000 in scholarships to Las Vegas high school graduates.

“Currently, our local Las Vegas Links Incorporated Chapter has over 53 members — and as a service organization, we celebrate our history and our future by continuing to give back to Las Vegas,” said Porter. “We look forward to working with the Southern California cluster to provide additional support to the National Links Assembly.”

Asked about the progress that has been made by The Links, Incorporated Las Vegas chapter, Bailey responds with delight: “I am so proud of the job the current Links Incorporated chapter members are doing. There are more ladies in the organization now, and it is pleasing to know that we threw the initial  ball to get the organization started. These wonderful ladies caught it, and they are doing great things.”

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