Jeff Sealy has 50 brothers, ranging in age from 90 to 22. No, they’re not biological (he’s an only child), but his fellow members of Sigma Beta Beta (SBB) might as well be blood relatives.
As president of the Westbury-based chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Sealy is part of a national organization that dates back to 1911. Rich in history, the all-male fraternity promotes community service and integrity, as well as emphasizes community; they operate under the motto “friendship is essential to the soul.”
“I’m an only child and didn’t have a relationship with my father, so it’s always been very rewarding to me that I could call my brothers and be around that comradery to fill that void I didn’t have growing up,” said Sealy, who has been president of SBB for the past two years. “It’s very rewarding when brothers see me and want to be involved.”
Not only is the brotherhood attractive to Sealy, but the principles are too. Omega Psi Phi operates on the four cardinal values: manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. To be an “Omega Man,” said Sealy, means carrying on the message of being there for others, community service and being a person of high character.
Those virtues manifest themselves through the various activities the group participates in every year. Omega Psi Phi mandates its chapters to complete several programs a year, but each local group adds its own special touches to it. SBB, which has been around since 1983, hosts several annual events including blood drives, voter/NAACP registration and mentoring programs. They also do suit collection drives, domestic violence training and mental health workshops, in addition to leisure boat rides, a Gospel Fest and Mother’s Day events.
“We like to be a constant presence in the community,” said Sealy. “We’ve been very active and able to facilitate partnerships with 30 different organizations within Nassau County.”
Unlike other organizations which struggle to recruit and retain members, SBB has a robust and active membership that comes from the city and all over Long Island. While the group has been historically and is predominately African American, Sealy said they don’t discriminate.
“We have brothers of all races, creeds and religions. We’re very open-minded,” he notes. “As long as the person presents themselves to have those characteristics of leadership and the ideals and cardinal principles of the fraternity, they’re welcome to join.”
That diversity extends to age as well—members of the group age from retired seniors to new college grads.
“It’s very important within the fraternity’s ideals,” said Sealy. “We really believe in bridging the gap between the older and younger members. The older members have so much history and experience it really behooves the younger members to talk with them and immerse themselves in the fraternity. It keeps the brotherhood together.”
To join Omega Psi Phi, members need a four-year degree from an accredited university, must pay a membership fee and have recommendation letters from members in the organization. Interested members will also spend time around the group, said Sealy.
“That’s the best way to know if you’re a good fit. Being face to face with the brothers and learning from them and learning how to adapt to that environment,” said Sealy, who added that being part of an organization with a 106-year history has many benefits. “There’s a lot of rich history. A lot has changed in society, but being a part of that as a person is very rewarding.”
To find out more about Sigma Beta Beta, visit www.sigmabetabeta.com.