Eta Chi Zeta Chapter History
In the autumn of 1973, several Zeta members in Joliet, IL were talking at a gathering and decided that there were enough Zetas in Joliet to form a grad chapter. Research on chartering a chapter was conducted with the national body and criteria was given to the interested members. The first formation meeting took place at the home of Soror Rhodell McFadden. Soror McFadden was initiated at South Carolina State in the 1950's. Her husband was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. from South Carolina State as well and was instrumental in the formation of the local Phi Beta Sigma chapter.
There were several graduate members present at the 1st meeting: among them was Lee Ivory Lee (Grambling State), Bernice Johnson (Jackson State), Janice Wood (Bowie State), Priscilla Thompson (Alcorn State), Dorothy Gee (Philander Smith in Arkansas), Catherine Rance (Alcorn State), Geraldine Knight (Alcorn State) and Mattie Hargrow (Alabama State). The members immediately filled out paperwork to start the chartering process. Rhodell McFadden was elected as the first President. Later, Zeta members Helen Jones (Lewis University), Genice Jones Kibby (IL State), Andrea Green (IL state) and June Bridges joined. Several months later in 1974, a rush was held for new members. They were inducted in the summer of 1974. They were: Celeste Evans (Univ. of Saint Francis in Joliet), Geneva Harris (Chicago State), Gloria Arrington (Alabama State), Juliette Mcswine (Alcorn State) and Gertha White (Alcorn State). Other members joined along the way either thru induction or transfer. Most of the chapter members were educators within the Joliet community. This, in turn, led to Eta Chi Zeta assisting with literacy programs within the Joliet school system.
The chapter participated in the active Joliet Pan-Hellenic Council. All eight (8) Black Greek Lettered Organizations, at the time, were participants. Eta Chi Zeta actively sponsored and supervised the undergraduate chapters at Lewis University (Romeoville) and Aurora University. Founders’ Day and Finer Womanhood Week were celebrated at Saint Marks Church for several years. The chapter held community luncheons and fashion shows. From 1974-1986, Eta Chi Zeta gave away holiday baskets. The chapter also held several Blue and White Formal Balls that were the talk of Joliet.
Sadly, the Eta Chi Zeta went into limbo during the late 1990’s. But all was not lost, during the early months of 2005, fourteen (14) highly motivated, determined and reclaimed Zeta sisters gathered to reestablish the Eta Chi Zeta legacy. These 14 Sorors: Christina Bradley, Tameka Bufford, Chauntine J. Dorame, Felicia Hinton, Tracye Holliman, Leza Holtz, Marlita Ingram, Doris Jackson, Shontrese King, Nichole Lang, Nikki F. Mitchell, Jacqueline O’Donnell, Charlene Vincent and ShaVonne West tirelessly worked to gain the reactivated charter and on April 7th, 2005, we were officially rewarded.
Since April of 2005, Eta Chi Zeta members have made a difference in “Zetadom” by being the first (1st) Zeta Centennial Diamond Donor Chapter. Members have been elected or appointed to National, Regional and State Officer positions, produced coast-to-coast fundraisers, won numerous awards for our service efforts and in 2008, named 1st Place in the National Chapter Scrapbook Competition.
Eta Chi Zeta has made a difference in the Joliet community by giving out numerous scholarships to high school graduates, working with the Joliet Boys & Girls Club, presented various Financial Aid and Prematurity Awareness Workshops, Adopted the Highway on Briggs Street, between Cass & Division Roads, and adopted Isaac Singleton & Carl Sandburg Elementary Schools. We have volunteered with Joliet’s Catholic Charities, the MorningStar Mission, and the Daybreak Community Center. Walked and worked with the March of Dimes WalkAmerica/March for Babies, walked and donated to the Take Back the Night program, Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Awareness and the Walk to End Lupus. Members have also visited retirement homes and held Veteran’s Day celebrations, Valentine’s Day and Bingo themed parties.
Currently, the Eta Chi Zeta chapter members have all pledged to sustain the Zeta Phi Beta legacy of Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood and Finer Womanhood and the Eta Chi Zeta legacy of being a foremost chapter not only within Illinois but regionally and nationally.