AKA to bring $400,000 economic impact to downtown

Next weekend, about 500 ladies dressed in pink and green will fill the streets of downtown Colorado Springs.

Alpha Kappa Alpha, a national African-American sorority, is having its regional meeting March 29-April 1 at the Antlers Hilton starting March 29 – and the group is expected to bring about $400,000 to the area’s hotels and restaurants.

AKA is a collegiate sorority, but also adds active, successful women who have graduated from college. Both Corretta Scott King and Alicia Keys are members, said local member TaRhonda Thomas, a news anchor at KUSA TV in Denver.

“We chose the Springs because it has a nice, clean, safe downtown,” she said. “It seemed like a good place – lots of restaurants and shopping within walking distance.

The Springs will host the 82nd Mid-Western Regional Conference, and will have a couple of events that are open to the public. A service organization, the sorority plans to help TESSA, a domestic-violence prevention nonprofit group, by packaging hundreds of personal care items.

“We are honored to serve the community in such a way,” said Mid-Western Region Director Maggie Green. “Alpha Kappa Alpha women are very recognizable wherever they go, and we enjoy using that distinction to bring attention to worthwhile causes.”

The group will also hold an awards ceremony to honor groups that model the sorority’s service initiatives. The Center for African American Health, the Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice, the ECDC/African Community Center, Faith Community Baptist Church, Girls STEM will all be honored. They also will recognize the program “Cutting through the Crisis” at Shorter Community AME Church and Peggy Ruden of CASA.

The awards program starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 29.

Another program focuses on awareness of teen delinquency. According to statistics from the University of North Carolina, 33 percent of young people will be arrested by the age of 23. The group is holding “16 and Arrested” youth summit March 29 from noon to 2 p.m.

Through a partnership with the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, the program will educate teens about the juvenile justice system, and provide them with information to motivate them from getting involved with the wrong side of the law.

“Our young people are our future,” Green said. “it is imperative that we place them on the right path to success.”