Since the International Trends and Services Facet was formed in 1970, The Links, Incorporated has demonstrated its commitment to enriching and sustaining the cultural and economic survival of people of African ancestry, through friendship and service.
The International Trends and Services facet provides services and delivers transformational programs to people of African ancestry globally for an optimal quality of life. Programs are designed and developed to service the educational, health and cultural needs of those in communities around the world – and to help those affected to emerge from poverty. A primary objective of our international work is to enrich the lives of women and their families. Our “boots on the ground” approach provides for more personalized methods of assisting and improving the lives of these women, children and men worldwide. This is achieved through long-term programs committed to empowerment and public policy leadership in advocating for social justice.
Oakland County (MI) International Trends & Services (ITS) Initiatives
Water Conservation & Filtration Program
International Trends & Services educated the NSBE Jr. 4th graders at Birney K-8 and Rogers Elementary Schools on the scarcity of water on every continent and the need to conserve water and protect the environment.
In session 1, the students learned about the global water shortage and that only 5% of the world’s water is fresh and drinkable.
The students were given an assignment to track water usage at home for one week and be prepared to discuss how to conserve water. In session 2, they worked in teams and built their own “water filtration” systems that purified dirty water into clean water. In session 3, Detroit Water Works Deputy Director Palencia Mobley spoke to the students about how the filtration system works in Detroit and reviewed the process of how clean water is piped into their homes. Ms. Mobley also informed the students that she is a member of NSBE and told them how she became interested in engineering. The session ended with a celebration and the students were given water bottles and T-shirts to wear for Earth Day. The results from the pre & post surveys indicated that the water filtration experiment was a significant learning experience for the 4th grade students.
St. Mary’s Preparatory & Elementary School, St. James Parish, Jamaica
International Community Service Project
The Oakland County (MI) Chapter adopted St. Mary’s Prep in Montpelier, St. James Parish, Jamaica, 10 years ago. With our chapter’s support, the school has become one of the most sought-after institutions of its kind in Western Jamaica. St. Mary’s Prep started with 60 students and has remarkably grown to its current enrollment of 485 students, due to its stellar performance on GSAT test and academic achievement awards.
Oakland County Links began our service to St. Mary’s with the theme, “Building a Solid Foundation Today for a Brighter Tomorrow.” The school’s curriculum focus includes:
- Health and Wellness Education – and the Chapter’s International Trends, Health and Human Services and Services to Youth facets have provided health kits for students for the last five years. The Chapter also emphasized nutrition and healthy eating, providing a safe and sanitary place for food preparation by renovating the school kitchen with tile floors, a stove, sinks, refrigerator, and stainless-steel counters. The cafeteria was renovated with new tables and chairs in 2017. (
- In 2016, Oakland County, in partnership with the Essex County (NY) Chapter and the Hoffman Estates (IL) Chapter supported St. Mary’s flourishing garden. The harvest provided vegetables to feed students for their lunch program.
- A library, to enhance literacy, was renovated by Oakland County Links in 2017.
- A computer lab to build upon technology education was created in partnership with the Capital City (DC) Chapter, including 19 desk top computers in 2018.
In the last 10 years Oakland County Links have provided countless hours of volunteer service with in-class reading to 1st – 6th grade students. We have also sponsored numerous programs and activities, including: self-esteem programs, fitness and personal hygiene activities, dental screening and dental treatment by students from Nashville’s Meharry Dental School, parent and student workshops, and hosted three National Links Delegations in Jamaica. The OCC Links have also distributed health kits to the nearly 500 students at St. Mary’s Prep. These kits were specially collected and assembled for the students in Jamaica by the Pontiac Middle School students, Links and volunteers.
International Pen Pal Project
Jamaica’s St. Mary’s Preparatory & Pontiac’s Rogers Elementary 4th Grade Classes
February – June 2019
Oakland County (MI) Links initiated an International Internet Pen Pal Program between 4th grade classes at Jamaica’s St. Mary’s Preparatory School and Pontiac’s Rogers Elementary School. The program was kicked off in February 2019 with the ITS Trend members presenting to both classes a description of an internet pen pal, how to make a good connection with their peers and how to write a strong letter. Students in both schools were provided pictures of their pen pal, and the Rogers students shared a video presentation about what they want to be when they grow up. The program concluded in June 2019 with a Pen Pal Essay Challenge where the most outstanding essays from students at both schools received a prize.
The project began with Links meeting with St. Mary’s 4th grade teachers and Principal Taylor for a program overview. The discussion centered around the logistics of student pen pal letters being submitted through the internet. Within the next few days teachers would secure permission slips. Principal Taylor felt that the Pen Pal Program would support students when they take their state test in June.
Links photographed the 58 students in the two 4th grade classes so that students at St Mary’s Prep and Rogers Elementary could each receive a picture of their pen pal. There was a pre-project evaluation administered and Pen Pal Lessons were presented.
Students in each 4th grade class started writing the first draft of their pen pal letter. They were given a Pen Pal Activity to assist them in making a good first impression on their new friend.