Las Amigas continues its mission to inspire

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

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Suffolk, Va. – Las Amigas Inc. continues to inspire and give back to the Suffolk community. 

Since the organization’s inception in 1957 in Charlotte, North Carolina, by Dora R. Mason and Mary Q. Moore, the 501c3 of professional African-American women has grown and furthered its mission to give back and inspire those less fortunate. Originating in Spanish as “the friends,” the Las Amigas Inc. Suffolk Chapter was created in 1966 starting with 16 members and further expanded while receiving various awards for their community service efforts, including the “Volunteering Excellence Award” bestowed by Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder from the State of Virginia in 1991.

Las Amigas Suffolk Chapter President Pearlie Blanks discussed some of their community outreach work in the chapter’s efforts of being “a friend for anyone in need.”

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“We make donations to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, the Genieve [Shelter] here in Suffolk, among many other organizations like the Lupus Foundation and Kidney Foundation,” Blanks said. 

Las Amigas Suffolk Chapter Parliamentarian Ethel Hart also detailed the organization’s work in bringing awareness to breast cancer through workshops and working with the Salvation Army to serve meals to the homeless. This month, Hart says the organization is concentrating on getting donations out to their national partners, including the Habitat for Humanity, the Bone Marrow Donor Program, the National Kidney Foundation, and the National Lupus Foundation. Hart touched on the importance of bringing awareness to the disease.

“In the past, we’ve had a Lupus walk because a lot of people don’t realize that Lupus affects a lot of African-American members. So we’ve tried to spread the word,” Hart said. “They had, once upon a time, a chapter of Lupus [sufferers] in Virginia Beach, but since that time, that chapter has disbanded. So now we send our money to the headquarters in Washington, D.C. But [those] are the kinds of things that we’re doing in trying to educate people about Lupus and kidneys and how all of that is actually connected because kidneys are also connected to the bone marrow as well as Lupus…”

The organization is also gearing up for Conclave 2024, which will be held from June 26 through June 30 at the Hilton Main Hotel in Norfolk. Blanks discussed that chapters from different states will attend the meeting and participate in various events.

“On Thursday night, we will have a night of celebration and we will be giving a large donation to the Sickle Cell Foundation. We will have the president [of the foundation] present,” Blanks said. “That’s one of the main things that we’ll be doing.”

As part of the Las Amigas Mid-Atlantic Region Chapters, two $2,000 scholarships will be given to two students within the region. Lastly, Humanitarian Service and Community Service Awards will be given to Suffolk Native Dr. L.D. Britt and Council Member LeOtis Williams, respectively, during the night for their work. 

On what they think both Las Amigas founders would think of their work, Blanks and Hart agreed that they “would be very pleased.” Hart talked about continuing their work today.

“When they came up with the idea in 1955, there were not many things for black ladies to be doing except for teaching school and going to church,” Hart said. “Because they saw such a need within the classrooms with the children that they were teaching, they decided that they would do an organization that would reach out and help those who are less fortunate. And because even though Mary Q. was in AKA and Dora was in Zeta, they still thought about forming a little grassroot organization that would do things that maybe some of these other ladies didn’t want to do.”

Hart continued.

“Because we go wherever there is a need. That has been the whole purpose of our organization – helping those less fortunate and who probably couldn’t receive things from other organizations that they can receive from Las Amigas,” she said.

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