Standing in the middle of a sea of red dresses worn by members of Greenville’s Delta Sigma Theta alumnae sorority, Lillian Outterbridge is directing traffic.
As chairperson of the sorority’s May Week activities, Outerbridge has to answer questions, revise seating arrangements and double-check a myriad of logistical details to ensure their “Honoring Our Hidden Heroes” banquet goes off without a hitch.
It has to be special. After all, the banquet is all about about recognizing those who go unrecognized.
“A hidden hero is someone who does things behind the scenes,” said Darryl Thomas, principal of E.B. Aycock Middle School. “They work very hard. They actually see the vision, me as being a principal, and help me out as much as possible.”
A hidden hero can be a custodian, a bus driver or a secretary.
“I’m a former teacher, so I know what these people do, and I know they don’t always get recognized for what they do,” Outterbridge said.
Students can be hidden heroes too, and each middle school represented at the banquet has two; one male and one female.
“The students we’ve nominated, they’ve showed in school and outside of school they have the opportunities to excel, behaviorally wise and academically wise,” said Thomas. “I believe those students can be great students in the future as they continue their education.”
As the banquet began, Outterbridge finally had a chance to breath. The room, a mix of educators, family members and friends, sat at their tables and waited.
Their attention, first directed toward the introductory speakers at the podium, soon drifted to the back of the room, where a curtain hung from the ceiling to the floor.
Then, as music played, the hidden heroes walked out from behind the curtain to a standing ovation.
With the guests of honor in the room, the buffet line opened and the banquet truly began.
“We don’t get enough time to honor people while they’re alive and honor people while they’re committed to their work,” said Thomas. “Each person that I honored has a specific task they have to get done at the school but on top of that task they find some reason to help out in any way possible.”
Students and employees from E.B. Ayock, C.M. Eppes Middle, Wellcome Middle and Hope Middle School were honored at the event.
Gwen Greene, the Greenville chapter’s president, said they plan to expand their scope next year.
“We want to look at not only education, but folks who are working in economic development those who are involved in really improving the health and well-being of citizens in Pitt County,” Greene said.
The Greenville alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which formed as a non-profit in 1960, makes an effort to provide public services to Greenville and honor those who have contributed to the city.