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Be aware of Greeks bearing great gifts

There are plenty of lessons I took away from my days at the University of Florida, and even though I never joined a fraternity, I did learn to be fair and balanced (sorry, Fox News) when dealing with rival Greek organizations.

Believe me, if you had heard some of the comical barbs the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta lobbed at each other during step shows, you too would be fearful of lauding one without lauding the other.

So this week's column begins strictly in chronological order, with the inaugural literary luncheon staged by Delta Inc. this Saturday at noon at the USF Embassy Suites Hotel.

Poet Nikki Giovanni, a three-time NAACP Image Award winner, is a Delta Sigma Theta member and a likely choice for the organization's first major fundraiser, said Cleanza Lanier, chairwoman of Delta Inc.

Giovanni's name may not be immediately recognized by some, but in poetry circles she has crafted an international reputation over the past 30 years. She is known both for her writings and for her outspokenness on matters of civil rights, having detailed the black American experience from an array of perspectives.

Her latest book is titled Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea.

In my view, her appearance is a real coup for Delta Inc., a nonprofit organization affiliated with Delta Sigma Theta's local alumnae chapter. Lanier said the group was created several years ago to help the chapter form partnerships with other nonprofits. It focuses on enriching the lives of young people, senior citizens and low- to moderate-income families.

For the ticket details on Saturday's event, contact Felicia Wintons at Books For Thought, 988-6363, or e-mail

Meanwhile, Gamma Theta Omega Inc., an extension of the local Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter, will dedicate its new Ivy AKAdemy on Nov. 15 at 9 a.m. The AKAdemy in Tampa Heights is a comprehensive center for educational and cultural enrichment, training and human resource programs.

It's also an expansion of the original AKA House on Seventh Avenue. A donated building was renovated in March 2003 with a city grant. Hundreds of teens and adults are served at the facility, and even more will benefit from the new building.

It's an important community contribution in an area expected to grow in prominence in the years to come. Kudos to the AKAs for a job well done.

By the way, this is a busy week for Lanier, a local real estate agent. On Friday at 6 p.m., she joins five other partners for the grand opening of Keller Williams Tampa Properties. The opening will be at a new office at 10008 N Dale Mabry Highway, Suite 110.

Lanier said she expects more than 300 people to attend, including some of the Bucs she has represented at the closing table.

In the wake of the Old Meeting House's departure, there still are a few landmark places to count on, including the Tahitian Inn, 610 S Dale Mabry. In fact, the hotel, spa and coffee shop (long a popular South Tampa hangout) will celebrate a grand reopening Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

The 1952 vintage motel had an extensive makeover, beginning in April 2001.

Nativity Catholic Church kicks off its 34th annual Novemberfest today. The five-day carnival has become one of Brandon's biggest events and benefits Nativity's grade school and religious education programs. Armbands for unlimited rides are $20, and there will be an array of food booths offering everything from Philly cheesesteak sandwiches to zeppoles.

Confession: This is something of a shameless plug because I'm a member of Nativity. But on the scoreboard of life, I'm trailing by a couple of touchdowns and halftime is over. I need all the points I can get.

That's all I'm saying.

_ Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or