The Madison Metropolitan Chapter of the Links, Inc. hosted its annual Scholarship & Community Recognition Jazz Brunch on Nov. 16, at Crowne Plaza Madison East. This year’s theme, “Diamonds, Emeralds and Pearls” commemorated the event’s 10th anniversary.

The sold-out brunch was accompanied by performance by Mike Malone Jazz Quartet. Silent auction items included everything from handmade quilts and aged rum to a golfing outing and nine-inch sweet potato pies. 

Organizers said the jazz bunch brings the community together to raise scholarship funds for area students and chapter programming, while honoring individuals and organizations that “contribute richly to our community.”

“We take this opportunity to honor and salute you for your uncompromising dedication and longstanding contributions,” said Chapter President Mary Rose.

The Madison Metropolitan Chapter of The Links, Inc. and The Links Foundation, Inc. have awarded over $175,000 in scholarships to deserving high school seniors attending college and continuing education students. This annual event serves as the primary funding source for the scholarship program. Proceeds will enable the chapter to award scholarships in 2020. 

The 2019 Distinguished Community Honorees include, Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen Sr., pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church; Damond W. Boatwright, regional president of operations for SSM Health in Wisconsin; Dr. Jack E Daniels III, president of Madison College; Lilada Gee, founder of Lilada’s Livingroom; Renee Moe, president and CEO of United Way of Dane County; and, The Beacon.

Daniels, who was described by Madison Magazine as a “man with a plan”, led a successful campaign to construct the Goodman South Campus on Madison’s Southside. He was applauded for changing the landscape of higher education in Madison, which is no longer a one-higher-education-institution town. And, he generated over $25 million in donations to support that vision.

“The value of what’s happening here today is about scholarships for young folk and young folk of color,” said Daniels. “They need these dollars so they can eliminate that barrier of finances so they can get the types of training and facilitative learning to move forward.”

Gee, who optimizes the phrase “Black Girl Magic” and is affectionally referred to as a warrior and healer, was moved to tears as she accepted her award. Gee, who was sexually abused at a very tender age, suffered dire effects such as self-hatred, clinical depression and suicidal ideation. She took that trauma and turned it into triumph, adding she will not be satisfied until “all Black women heal.”

“When I laid in my bed of depression, all I could think about is not if, but how was I going to kill myself,” Gee said. “I made a promise to God … I said Lord is you deliver me from this dark place, I will commit the rest of my life to pulling other women and girls from the very pit of hell. And he did it. He did it and I had to keep my end of the bargain.”

The Links, Incorporated was founded on Nov. 9, 1946 by Margaret Hawkins and Sarah Scott. The organization seeks to build successful relationships, while working to impact communities based on the organization’s guiding principles of friendship and service.  Twenty-two women expanded that vision to the Greater Madison area by chartering The Madison Metropolitan Chapter on Aug. 31, 1985.