With a motto of “Service for Humanity,” Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Incorporated, is a national nursing sorority founded on October 16, 1932, at Freedman’s Hospital on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. While established for African American female nurses, its current membership consists of over 8,000 professional nurses and nursing students of both genders, reflecting many cultures and diverse ethnic backgrounds. There are over one hundred chapters in thirty-three states, the District of Columbia, Liberia, and the Virgin Islands. Membership is by invitation and is a high honor.
Winston-Salem State University’s chapter, Chi Chi Beta, was chartered on March 16, 1991. The original idea was envisioned by Yetta Clark, CRNA, who was the chapter’s first president. Ms. Clark attended Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, North Carolina Baptist Hospital School of Anesthesia, and became Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s first African American student and graduate of the nurse anesthesia program.
Meeting with the current Chi Chi Chapter President, Panissa Bryant Caldwell, BSN, RN, MHA, DNP, I learn more about the sorority and the many community outreach projects they are involved with. These include….
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
The sorority conducts health education sessions for healthcare professionals and others to address potential and active health problems. They often collaborate with other organizations to offer screenings and education sessions on the following:
- Hypertension education and screening (Signature Project)
- Cancer education and screening
- Sickle cell disease awareness
Programs For Seniors
For seniors, they provide services such as travel assistance, health education, help navigating the health care system, checking on the well-being of the elderly living alone, and other programs as assessed by chapter members that fit the mission of “service for humanity.”
Programs for Youth and Young Adults
Programs are targeted to youth and young adults and may include health education sessions, peer forums, mentoring, and health care monitoring.
Community Health Outreach
This program is designed to serve the members of the sorority. Programs are designed to assist members who are ill or experiencing some type of difficulty. Activities include but are not limited to, phone calls, visitation, transportation, and special assistance as needed.
The research development program is designed to aid novice and seasoned researchers with scholarly activities that address research investigating health promotion, disease prevention, and health maintenance in vulnerable and underserved populations. The program awards small grants to researchers and members of this committee collaborate with the Grant Writing Committee and other experts in Chi Eta Phi as necessary.
Recruitment and Retention
Entry into the sorority is by invitation only. Programs are provided to promote interest in nursing careers. Financial, tutorial assistance, and mentoring are provided to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in accredited nursing programs. In addition to this, the sorority also offers scholarships to worthy recipients.
COVID Community Service Outreach
The year and a half since the beginning of COVID has taken a toll on nurses everywhere! Nurses are true superheroes! Through it all, the members of the Chi Chi Chapter in Winston Salem have looked for ways to be of service to the community. These are some of the ways this tireless sorority has served the community during this time:
- Provided food and beverages at vaccination events at Hanes Mall and the Fairgrounds.
- Assisted with administering vaccinations.
- Showed their appreciation to the clinical team at the Novant Health Highland Avenue Primary Care by treating the team members to “Italian Ice” on a sweltering day (the temperature was 90+ degrees!).
- Delivered hygiene kits to four schools in Winston-Salem: Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, John F. Kennedy High School, Kingswood High School, Mineral Springs Middle School.
This sorority participates in all areas of community service. In addition, you will find the members in your doctor’s office, at the patient’s bedside in the hospital, in the classroom teaching the next generation of nursing students, and at the highest levels of administration in the field of healthcare.
Vice President of the Chi Chi Chapter, Barbara A. Crumb, BSN, RN, MSN, has this to say about why she dedicates herself to the sorority’s mission. “I am committed to helping others as I needed help as a child for childhood asthma. I am committed to the sisterhood and the sorority. I think about our Chi Eta Phi Mascot (the turtle): Each time the turtle moves, it must stick its neck out. To implement change, we must be willing to move out of our protective shell and have the courage and the confidence to encourage and support creativity and innovation.”