COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Members of one historically Black fraternity have converged on central Ohio. Alpha Phi Alpha’s regional conference represents members from more than a dozen states. The event includes service projects.
For Jaiden Lyles, eight grade English class comes easy. He’s a scholar at Columbus City Preparatory School for Boys.
“I plan to be a video game designer,” he said.
The 14-year-old and other scholars joined members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, which presented the school with a custom reading bench.
“It’s really helpful for scholars that don’t like to read so they can get, like, more into reading,” Lyles said.
Fraternity members presented the bench Wednesday, a service project during its regional conference.
“We wanted to demonstrate that, in so many different ways, both the physical presence of the bench but also symbolically that we’re here helping them cultivate their education, cultivate their knowledge and excellence,” said Ronald Stovall, the organization’s regional director.
Stovall said the conference is bringing more than 1,000 members from 14 states to Columbus.
“We are here in the community doing work,” he said. “We’re serving the community.”
In addition, the conference is representative of efforts to make Columbus more attractive to other conferences and conventions. Dan Williams with Experience Columbus said conferences like this one can have a payoff down the road.
“It’s extremely important because it continues to support the $6.6 billion generated by the hospitality industry,” Williams said. “It also supports 75,000 jobs.
“Those members come to the community, they represent other organizations, other associations, so they can see how Columbus performs and they can continue to bring that business back to the community,” he added.
“Columbus is just a vibrant city, just full of energy, great partners,” Stovall said.
While Stovall is proud of the gift his fraternity will leave behind, Lyles knows the promise it can bring.
“It, like, calms me down when I’m, like, really mad or frustrated at something,” Lyles said.
For Columbus to serve as the conference’s host, Stovall said local members had to present a bid that showcased local attractions and hotel options.