The Links Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation established in 1946, according to Linda Morris Belford, a longtime member of the Flint Area Chapter. The organization’s membership is comprised of professional women of color who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. “It is one of the oldest and largest volunteer organizations in the country,” she reports, adding that there are now over 300 Chapters and approximately 43,000 members in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
Morris Belford has been a member of the Flint Chapter, which was established in 1979, since 1982. “We have 25 active members – professional women – who are attorneys, physicians, school administrators, you name it,” she says. “I had aunts who were members of The Links. It is an organization of outstanding, professional women.” Reta Stanley, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint and Genesee County, is The Links’ current president. Morris Belford, a past president, currently serves as the Chairperson of International Trends and Services.
The Flint Area Chapter is very active in the community. In March, the group hosted a community event celebrating International Women’s Day, which featured a “flavors of the world” dining experience, a multi-cultural/multi-generational panel discussion, and networking. Entertainment was provided by the Kuungana African Drum and Dance Company. “It was an overwhelming success!” exclaims Morris Belford. “We had projected 100 attendees and we exceeded that!”
Over nearly four decades, The Links Flint Area Chapter has undertaken many endeavors, with a focus on education, cultural enrichment, health and wellness, civic involvement and the arts. They are annual sponsors of the CRIM Water Station and have taken on many mentoring projects. Fifteen years ago, they built a school in South Africa. “We also support a youth mentoring center in Jamaica,” Morris Belford shares, “and we are official partners with the Flint Institute of Music and Flint Institute of Arts.”
According to Morris Belford, the Flint Area Chapter established the Flint Kids Matter Fund, which is a donor-advised fund through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “The purpose of this fund is to have money in place to help children who have been exposed to lead during the Flint water crisis,” she explains.
The Links also funded $20,000 for the building of two playgrounds in the city of Flint. “We do a lot. We partner with other chapters across the state and in other countries,” says Morris Belford. “Our intent is to make a difference right here in the communities of Flint and Genesee County.”
The Links’ membership is comprised of professional women of color who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.
Photography by Jennifer Hodney