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Alpha Phi Alpha member gives children positive outlet

By Jasmine Brooks
On February 1, 2013

On Jan. 26, 2012, the Tau Psi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the Zeta Lambda chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority went to the Crossroads Teen Center in Martin to volunteer and teach the kids some of their organizations' steps, but little did they know that they were witness to something that would become more than they ever thought.

'Community leader' and 'role model' are titles that still could not describe UTM Alumni Rayshunn Cheney and his dedication to creating a service-based organization for children in the Weakley County area called Step Crew Entertainment. With a motto of "Serve First, Step Next," it is no surprise that these group of kids have made headlines across the county.

Step Crew has created a lane of their own by being heavily involved in giving back to the community such as donating time to the Van Ayers Manor Nursing Center, Dresden Animal Shelter and raising over $200 for their philanthropy, the American Cancer Society. They recently adopted a part of Highway 22 towards Dresden, Tenn., which they have vowed to clean four times a year.

Step Crew was made possible through the help and support of Martin Housing Authority and the 'Power Circle,' which include college volunteers and members of the National Pan- Hellenic Council organizations including fraternities such as Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Iota Phi Theta, Omega Psi Phi and sororities that include Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Alpha Kappa Alpha, as well as the Zeta Chi chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity.

"It started with simply doing community service and occupying my time with something positive, but now it is so much more! These kids have taught me so much and they have helped better me as a mother. I just want to give these kids something special that I hope one day someone will do for my daughter," said Chasity Frazier, Senior Human Health and Performance major, member of Delta Sigma Theta and the 'Power Circle'.

The 'Power Circle' dedicates hours outside of their days to come spend time with the children, create bonds that could last a lifetime, and provide the children of Weakley County with a positive outlet and a place for their talents.

"As the creator of the organization, I understand that many kids look up to me. I am in charge of making sure their grades are above a 2.75 GPA, creating steps and being a positive role model for the kids," said Cheney.

The original chapter in Martin, which includes Trey Tipton, Brianna Easley, Heavenly Mack, Tatiyanna Chandler, Mariah Turner, Leasia Gardner, Raschad Windham, Maya Scott and Quaneshia Porter, now has grown to 30 children and is continuing to grow with Mariah Turner as the chapter's president and Brianna Easley as vice president.

Along with developing new chapters in Humboldt and Dyersburg, Tenn., Step Crew is helping to develop better and more supportive families.

Cheney said, "Parents are excited to see their young children doing something positive with Step Crew, which in my opinion has brought the community together just a little more. I never knew it would do that but it definitely has surprised me. Step Crew is an affordable extra-curricular activity that anyone could do. All you need is a pair of boots, passion and dedication."

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