The Links Inc., an international service organization comprised of professional women of color, is making a significant impact in Indianapolis this week.
The 71-year-old organization’s 41st National Assembly is being held in the Circle City and the illustrious group kicked off the week with a Community Health and Safety Fair that provided free dental screenings, water and bike safety sessions and accident prevention tips for the elderly among other activities.
“As a volunteer service organization, we wish to leave a piece of our legacy in every community that we touch,” said Dr. Glenda Newell–Harris, national president of The Links Inc. “Through our national partnership with Colgate–Palmolive, we are able to promote health and education to the Indianapolis community that not only nurtures their bodies, minds and spirits, but also empowers and enriches their lives.”
Throughout the week members will attend various workshops and panel discussions designed to further enhance the efforts of the nearly 15,000 members globally. The theme for this year’s assembly is “Linking our Legacy, Owning our Future.”
“It is important in every organization that you understand and know about your history,” Newell–Harris said. “Links have a rich history that our members love and appreciate, but we also need to prepare our organization for the future. It is my hope that the many discussions, sessions and speakers will help us acknowledge and take ownership of what we have to do to be ready for what the future holds.”
Newell–Harris says some of that preparation includes understanding the dynamics of intergenerational relationships.
“Because we are 71 years old, we sometimes find ourselves with four different generations within a single chapter,” she said. “During our assembly, we hope to have conversations about how to integrate with one another. We also want to show how such tactics can be applicable to your job as well. Intergenerational relationships need to be understood.”
The Links’ motto is “Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service” and as one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer organizations, the group does just that.
Debra Simmons Wilson, president of the Circle City (IN) Chapter of The Links Inc. says locally and globally, members of the organization contribute significantly to the communities where they live and work.
“Our sisters provide more that one million documented hours of community service each year,” Simmons Wilson said. “We energetically infuse our time, talent and treasure domestically as well as in areas like Jamaica where we have invested significantly in schools.”
Simmons Wilson is one of five Links presidents in Indiana whose chapters serve as hosts for the 41st National Assembly. Jarnell Burks-Craig, president of the Indianapolis Chapter of The Links Inc., is another.
Burks-Craig has been an integral force behind the planning and execution of this week’s big event. She says The Links’ other fundamental component: friendship was ever-present throughout the 18 months of planning.
“This organization was founded on friendship,” Burks-Craig said. “The planning process has allowed the five chapters in Indiana to become true friends that worked together to build and support one another. This has been a huge responsibility, but it helped us formulate a firmer foundation build on friendship.”
Did you know
The Links Inc. has nearly 15,000 members and 289 chapters in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Common Wealth of the Bahamas and the United Kingdom.
Indiana Iconic Cluster presidents
There are five Links chapters in Indiana, all of which are hosts for the organization’s 41st National Assembly. Below are the chapter presidents.
Debra Simmons Wilson
Circle City (IN) Chapter
Dr. Jann Joseph
South Bend Area (IN) Chapter
Ft. Wayne Chapter
Northern Indiana Chapter
Glenda Newell-Harris, national president of The Links Inc., stops by one of the activities for children at the Links’ Community Health and Safety Fair at the Riverside Park Family Center. (Photo/Greg Byers)