Sorority pitches in to help single moms

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Pi Alpha Omega president Brianca Martin, and chapter members stand with homeowner Tekia Rice (center, holding flowers) at her home dedication last month. She'll move in just before Christmas and have a 7-foot tree, compliments of one of the sorority sisters to enhance the celebration. Photo courtesy of Pi Alpha Omega.

Credit: Photo courtesy of The Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Credit: Photo courtesy of The Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Pi Alpha Omega president Brianca Martin, and chapter members stand with homeowner Tekia Rice (center, holding flowers) at her home dedication last month. She'll move in just before Christmas and have a 7-foot tree, compliments of one of the sorority sisters to enhance the celebration. Photo courtesy of Pi Alpha Omega.

Native Atlantan Tekia Rice says 2023 has been the best year of her life.

The 27-year-old single mother of four is excited as she talks about moving into her first home on Dec. 15, the day after her oldest daughter, Miley, turns 11.

Christmas will only be days away, and Rice can’t wait.

“I have prayed for so long and worked so hard,” she said. “To see that moment finally here is unbelievable.”

The Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is partnering with Atlanta Women’s Build and Atlanta Habitat to see that Rice’s dream of homeownership comes true.

Sorority members have pitched in money and picked up hammers and nails for Rice’s home. Her house is the third the 394-member chapter has helped build for a single mother in three years.

Two sorority sisters have even helped with the homes’ designs, chapter president Brianca Martin said.

Pi Alpha Omega has pledged to be a partner in two more houses over the next two years. But Martin expects the work to go on.

“My chapter is very excited about continuing this partnership and this legacy,” she said.

Jane Mosley, a member of the Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, puts in sweat equity at Tekia Rice's new home. Photo is courtesy of Pi Alpha Omega.

Credit: Photo courtesy of The Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

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Credit: Photo courtesy of The Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was founded in 1908 at historically Black Howard University in Washington, D.C., and has 18 chapters in the metro area, including Pi Alpha Omega and two others in the city of Atlanta.

“Lifelong membership is encouraged because we serve all the days of our lives,” Martin said.

The work with Atlanta Women’s Build and Habitat fits with the sorority’s international – as well as the chapter’s – priorities by uplifting the local community, building economic wealth, and enhancing the environment, all of which offer a hand-up to single Black women, especially those with children.

The homeowners pay the mortgage principal and insurance but no interest, Martin said.

Center, bottom row, is new homeowner Tekia Rice. Here, she is joined by members of Pi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The chapter has committed to helping build five homes for single mothers within five years. Rice will move in by mid-December. Photo courtesy of Pi Alpha Omega.

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Pi Alpha Omega chapter of historically black Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

icon to expand image

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Pi Alpha Omega chapter of historically black Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Pi Alpha Omega contributed $2,000 to the first home build and $2,300 to the second. They also added curb appeal by planting trees at all three houses.

Sorority members ramped up their support for Rice’s home build to more than $15,000, which earned them a Silver Hammer from Atlanta Women’s Build and a shout-out from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens at the home dedication last month.

All three of the new homeowners – Shari Ballard, Shandreeka Ball, and Rice – say the experience has been life-changing.

“It means everything,” said Ballard, a single mother of one who works in the insurance business. “I am able to come home with my daughter and feel like we have a place we can make our own.

Ballard and her daughter moved into their new home last Christmas and, this year, had a backyard garden with tomatoes, cucumbers and other veggies.

Ball, a single mother of four ages 1 to 16, said the process to obtain a home was slowed by the pandemic and took her about four years. But she said she learned so much about homeownership.

“I love it. The neighborhood is so nice. They did a great job,” said Ball, who put in her own sweat equity on the house, working every Saturday for two months.

Rice started the application process in 2019 and also faced delays as work shut down due to the pandemic.

“I have been working on buying a house for years, making sure my credit was right and making sure I stayed employed,” she said. “Prayers got me through it.”

Rice says she considers 2023 the “most amazing year of my life,” in part because she met some “sweet people, some amazing people” as work came together on her home.

“I’ve never met people like I’ve met through the home-building process,” she said. “I thank God most of all, and I can’t wait to pay it forward.”

One sorority sister is giving her a 7-foot, prelit tree for her first Christmas in her new home.

Martin says these projects have been a win-win for everyone, including the sorority, which also has made other five-year commitments to serve.

One project the sorority has undertaken is to provide “hunger packs” to send home with children from two schools so they have food on weekends. Another is to help maintain Cascade Springs Nature Preserve.

“Service is our signature,” Martin said. “Our mission is to serve all mankind.”

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