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Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 12:00pm

On December 10, 2019 the Mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano, gave Mercy’s Groove Phi Groove chapter a proclamation in recognition of their community service at the YWCA of Yonkers on November 23. Mercy’s Big Apple City Chapter of Groove Phi Groove performed at both the YWCA’s Fraternity/Sorority Forum and Step Showcase — which aimed to expose middle and high school students to the idea that there is a brotherhood and sisterhood in higher education — and Feast of Giving, a community dinner. The proclamation was first awarded in a private ceremony in Mercy President Tim Hall’s office and then publicly awarded later that same day at half-time during the Mercy women’s basketball game.

“When we heard about the proclamation, we were all so happy!” said Carlos Ramos ’21, president of Mercy’s Big Apple City Chapter of Groove Phi Groove. “We know how much effort we put into our step performances and our community service work. I guess the mayor felt the good vibes and the positivity we were giving off as well.”

Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Incorporated was founded in 1962 by 14 young black men at Morgan State University who wanted an alternative to traditional fraternities. Mercy’s Big Apple City Chapter was founded in 2016. Chapters participate in community service and support civic programs aimed at youth mentoring, academic tutoring, scholarships and other community service activities that address the problems of homelessness, drug abuse and alcoholism. With such a mission, Groove Phi Groove’s Big Apple City Chapter fits perfectly at Mercy where there is a long-standing tradition of community service that stems from the College’s motto: inserviendo consumere (“consumed in service”).

A Mercy alumna helped pave the way for Spano to meet Groove Phi Groove’s Big Apple City Chapter in the first place. Daphne Squires ’08 organized the Yonkers YWCA’s Fraternity/Sorority Forum and Step Showcase around the theme “Building a Path Today for College Tomorrow.” She invited Mercy’s Big Apple City Chapter to perform: “These are young black men who are in college. I wanted them to perform at the event to let the youth of Yonkers know that there's a brotherhood and sisterhood in higher education — to let them know that they can go to college too. I want Groove Phi Groove to be able to perform in more schools and let kids know that they can go to college.” She also asked the mayor to award the proclamation to the chapter: “I really believe in the work he’s doing in Yonkers. He’s supporting people and helping them move forward. That's why I wanted to make sure he saw Groove Phi Groove perform and supported their work in the community.”

Groove Phi Groove’s Big Apple City Chapter currently has 23 members. Much of the chapter’s community service revolves around step performances. Step is a form of dance with a long tradition in African and African-American communities in which the dancer’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds in elaborate, synchronized group routines. Members of Groove Phi Groove’s Big Apple City Chapter attend step practice every day. “We take it really seriously,” said Ramos. They perform in local schools and at local events like the two in November at the Yonkers YWCA. In addition, they do other community service such as organizing a toy drive in December that benefited 175 children at a family shelter in White Plains.

The reputation of Groove Phi Groove’s Big Apple City Chapter is certainly growing at Mercy and beyond. In addition to accepting Spano’s proclamation, the chapter was recently invited to perform in North Carolina A&T State University’s Greatest Homecoming on Earth (GHOE), a step show later this year that will be televised.

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