The Pine Bluff and Little Rock Chapters of The Links Inc., recently hosted the 2013 Central Area Conference at the Marriot Hotel at Little Rock.

The Pine Bluff and Little Rock Chapters of The Links Inc., recently hosted the 2013 Central Area Conference at the Marriot Hotel at Little Rock.

The Central Area is comprised of 17 states, and 560 representatives from those states were in attendance to participate in numerous workshops designed to enhance their capability of providing service to their various communities, and other activities that introduced them to Arkansas hospitality.

The host chapters sponsored a gala at the Clinton Library where the visitors were able to tour the library, socialize, and share projects and community service ideas with each other. The Area sponsored a Civic Luncheon at which local citizens were recognized for the collaborative work that they do with the local chapters and for their communities.

The Pine Bluff Chapter recognized the Pine Bluff School District, represented by the superintendent, Linda Watson, for the districtís years of cooperation in sponsoring Saturday workshops for high school students to encourage their pursuit of a higher education focusing on global preparation, writing and poster contests to make students aware of international culture and needs, and collection of 800 books that were sent to Uganda to assist in addressing their educational needs. Additionally, The Pine Bluff Chapter recognized James McKissic, posthumously, for his artistic talent that brought to him and Pine Bluff international acclaim. Annette Dove was also noted for her work with the Pine Bluff HIPPY program and TOPPS, an organization that she created to further serve the needs of Pine Bluff youth.

Conference recognition was given to the Little Rock Nine, the first students of color to integrate Central High School and any segregated school in the south, and to an exhibit honoring other Blacks in Arkansas who were instrumental in improving social justice throughout the state. Among those honorees with Pine Bluff ties were the honorable George Howard, Attorney Wiley Branton, and Dr. Harold Flowers.

At a dinner honoring Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state, the choirs at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Philander Smith College were applauded for their outstanding performances and given a financial donation of $2,500 each. In a community outreach project, the members of the organization joined in a collective effort to prepare and give to the American Red Cross thousands of survival kits to be distributed in disaster areas, sponsored a walk-a-thon for youth, and made available a health fair using local volunteers from the Jefferson Comprehensive Care Center and other Little Rock agencies.

Local support from Pine Bluff was outstanding, with the substantial financial sponsorships, ranging from $5,000 to $1,000, coming from Relyance Bank, Simmons First National Bank, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, 50 for the Future, Dr. Simmie Armstrong, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The Links Inc., is a premier international organization of more than 12,000 women in 276 chapters in 46 states for which the focus is friendship and community service. The current and new president of the local chapter is Bettye Dunn Wright. Jacquelyn McCray served from the Pine Bluff Chapter as the conference co-chair.