The 26th Annual Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Heart &
It’s Still About the Children
|Madison Alumnae Chapter President
Yolanda Shelton-Morris (above) and
Ronnicia Johnson Walker (right) and
Carola Gaines are planning a
virtually elegant Heart & Soul fundraiser
to raise funds for college scholarships
By Jonathan Gramling
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic spread last spring, Madison Alumnae Chapter
President Yolanda Shelton-Morris of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has been striving
to keep her chapter intact and moving forward.
“Despite the pandemic, we are still dedicated to impacting our community,” Shelton-
Morris said. “We still do programming in all of our programmatic thrusts. On a national
level, our organization has really supported and equipped chapters to continue to do
programming in a virtual manner. Whether that be charting the meeting platforms like
Zoom or giving us the resources and tools that we need to be able to still serve our
communities, but do so in a way that practices social distancing and adheres to the
While the Deltas can normally be seen at events like the Capitol King Holiday
Commemoration and various health fairs, their signature event has been the Heart &
Soul Scholarship Fundraiser the past 26 years, held on Valentine’s Day weekend.
And when Shelton-Morris began looking for people to chair the event, Ronnicia
Johnson-Walker responded. Johnson-Walker had chaired Heart & Soul for several
different experience. And it was a challenge that I actually did want to take on considering the virtual nature of it. We’ll still make it a successful, large event that is
being held virtually.”
Heart & Soul has always been a fun and elegant event filled with special touches like Hershey’s Kisses at each table. Johnson-Walker wants to repeat that quality on
the virtual level.
“Our goal is to recreate the feel that people get when they attend Heart & Soul,” Johnson-Walker said. “That was the conversation. How do we as a committee, how
do we encompass that same vibe we’ve had in the past years, but do it virtually, especially because it is coming almost at that year mark of the pandemic. A lot of
people don’t want to be talked at. There are already a lot of virtual concerts that celebrities have done, virtual DJ sets. It’s all been done before. The numbers at the
beginning of the pandemic were high for those events because they were something new and unique. It was a great opportunity. Now a lot of people are like, ‘I’m
over it. I just want to go into my bubble, put my mask on and get through this so we can open up again outside.’ We changed it to the Heart & Soul Fundraiser. I just
thought we should call it ‘The QuaREDtine Lounge. People won’t have to dress up. On the zoom, it will be put into a panel Wisconsin style so that everyone doesn’t
necessarily have to see each other. We just wanted to make something unique, something enjoyable and something that people could enjoy from home whether they
are quarantined with a partner, with a group of friends, a small pod or by themselves.”
And for a few — due to constraints of COVID-19 — some early bird ticket purchasers were able to purchase some VIP boxes that will help bring the ambiance of
Heart & Soul to their living rooms.
“We did sell some VIP tickets, which included a gift box with some little trinkets and treats in it,” Shelton-Morris said. “But because we’re in this virtual world, it’s
really important that although we continue to do programming virtually as a chapter, we cannot do things in person together. And so we had to be very mindful about
how many of those boxes we could sell because essentially two people separately would be assembling the boxes. They were so popular that we sold out.”
There will be times to put the coffee table aside and dance to the entertainment that the event will provide.
“Our featured performer Eric Benét will come and spend some time with us and sing some songs of love,” Shelton-Morris said. “We’re hoping that as couples are in
their homes together that they do take the opportunity to do some dancing. Normally we traditionally have a DJ, but we aren’t going to have that this year. And our
poet, Ajanae Dawkins, will do a spoken word piece. Again we’re going to try to keep it real laid back because people are going to be in their homes and relaxing.”
There will also be a short program.
“It’s going to be a short program, about 90 minutes long, enough time to highlight our Community Impact Award winners,” Shelton-Morris said. “We’ll hear from a past
scholarship award recipient on how the scholarship has helped them along their academic journey. And it’s just an opportunity for us to really thank our community,
our partners, those who have supported us even in the midst of a pandemic. We all are facing different financial struggles. And even in the midst of that, we have
some awesome sponsors who have still stepped up and still support us in supporting young people as they prepare for college. They include YWCA of Madison, UW-
Madison PEOPLE Program, Madison Metropolitan Links, Wegner CPAs, Park Bank, Quartz/ UnityPoint - Meriter Health, Colony Brands, Madison College, Summit
Credit Union and Fair Oaks Foods.”
Shelton-Morris and Johnson-Walker hope that people show up and support Heart & Soul.
“We wanted to keep it for the kids,” Johnson-Walker said. “We still want to give out scholarships this year. Our students are still attending school virtually. We still
want to be able to support them. So this year, we’re going to have past scholarship recipient update and have some of our past award winners to speak and talk
about how the scholarship helped them, how they are doing in school, how COVID-19 and the pandemic are affecting them and what else they are doing to maintain
years before moving to Milwaukee and was the Madison chair of the statewide Delta Founders Day observance in 2020. And on
some levels, it was COVID-19 that made it possible for Johnson-Walker to chair the event.
“Yolanda tabbed me as our state coordinator to do Founders Day last year. She said, ‘I promised myself I would not ask you to do
anything at all this year. But if we’re going virtual and I like the ideas that you shared, would you be willing to chair it.’ Carola
Gaines had already said she would co-chair. I told her that since we were virtual, it would allow me to chair. I wouldn’t have to go
back and forth to Madison. And so here we are. I’m chairing Heart & Soul virtually after close to 10 years of not being the chair. It's a
COVID-19 space and also to have an impact on their community, whether that is
locally or in their campus community where they currently are. So it’s great. It will
be interesting to see how the scholarships are helping the students going
It’s all about the children.
Tickets cost $10 that will enter participants into a drawing for a $500 cash prize
and other prizes. They will also receive a Zoom link to enter The QuaREDtine
Lounge on Saturday, February 13th. For tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.