West recognized for service to humanity

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Orpah West was recognized for her work as a charter member of Omega Chapter Inc., Chi Eta Phi Sorority Inc., at its biennial National Conference held in July 2021 in Hanover, Md.

Chi Eta Phi Inc. is an organization of professional nurses and nursing students founded in October 1932, when Black people were not allowed to join predominately white professional organizations and sororities. The sorority’s motto is “Service for Humanity,” which West has exhibited throughout her life.

Through Chi Eta Phi Inc., West was involved in helping high school students who wanted to pursue a career in nursing. The sorority holds numerous programs that focus on health promotion, disease prevention, leadership development, mentoring, recruitment and retention. In addition, every year, the sorority has a banquet to raise money to help these students pursue further education.

“We gave scholarships to right many students,” said West. “Most of them went on to become registered nurses and are still active.”

West worked as a family planning consultant at the health department and organized the first nursing class at the Pruden Center. This nurse’s aide program was for high school students and had evening classes for adults. Each year the former students gather for a banquet to catch up and raise scholarship funds for new students.

According to West’s daughter, Cynthia Edwards, after 24 years of teaching, West can’t go to a doctor’s appointment or have a hospital stay without numerous employees coming in to say hi and that they remembered and enjoyed her class.

“I’m still in contact with some of my students, and they are still working as registered nurses,” said West. “I am very proud of them.”

Last year, West also received an award for 50 years of membership at East End Baptist Church from her senior pastor, Dr. Wayne Faison. During her membership, she served as a deaconess and a Sunday school teacher and was the president of women on mission and cultural celebration. She also initiated a Christian sex education class to help parents communicate with their children about the Biblical view of sex. With her husband, West also went on mission trips to Jamaica and Antigua.

“It was a very rewarding experience,” said West. “They were not accustomed to seeing Black missionaries, so they were very surprised. It showed them that there are other missionaries too and they can be proud of their skin color. My husband was the chief cook, and I worked with the students and parents. We went until we couldn’t anymore.”

Through the various parts of her life, West lived out Chi Eta Phi Inc.’s motto of serving humanity.