Members from five middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky graduate (alumni) chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. visited Riverbend Maximum Security Institution to conduct an Empowerment Session on August 20. The effort is a joint service project between Gamma Phi (Nashville, Tenn.), Omega Lambda Lambda (Hendersonville, Tenn.), Pi Gamma Gamma (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Psi Pi (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Theta Alpha Alpha (Bowling Green, Ky.) Chapters.
Omega Psi Phi has had a presence at the prison since 2006 when Gamma Phi Chapter conducted a Black History Program at the facility.
In 2011, Gamma Phi was joined by Omega Lambda Lambda and Pi Gamma Gamma Chapters. The response from the inmates was so positive that the frequency of visits was increased from once per year to quarterly visits. In 2012, Psi Pi and Theta Alpha Alpha Chapters joined the Riverbend Project, making the joint service project five Chapters strong. The increase in manpower helped to expand the expertise the fraternity was able to provide to the inmates, capitalizing off of the varied experiences and backgrounds of the brothers.
Open panel discussions were added to the format as well as time for one-on-one mentoring. Topics for the open panel discussions have included health issues that affect men, spiritual uplift, legal advice, repairing your credit, how to start a business, how to start a nonprofit organization and resources available to inmates upon release from prison, to name a few.
“It’s been an amazing transformation since the addition of the other chapters,” said Clint Boyd, Jr., coordinator of The Riverbend Project. “Many of the brothers have established personal relationships with inmates—serving as mentors, corresponding with them on a regular basis and serving as a support matrix to help them re-adjust to society and the workforce once they are released.”