On Tuesday, September 12, 1967, Ivry L. Louard, National First Vice President, called together eight community-minded women for a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to form a Branch in Hempstead to carry out the hopes and dreams of our founder, The Rev. Bertha Nelms Harris.  They believed that with the combined forces of the eight women, some of the many problems facing our children, youth and seniors, might be alleviated.


After the meeting, and having heard Rev. Harris speak about her dream, the Key Women’s Organization was formed.

The next month, eighteen women joined the organization.  As suggested by Ruth D. Hendricks, in honor of our great leader, the name Bertha Harris was chosen. On November 18, 1967, the Bertha Harris Branch of Key Women was formed and twenty-six members were installed into the branch.

From inception to the present time, the Bertha Harris Branch continues to focus on projects serving the needs of children, youth and seniors. Over the years, we have visited and have given gifts to A. Holly Patterson Geriatric Center. We have volunteered at child care centers, museums, health fairs and transported residents to special programs.  Scholarships are given annually to deserving high school students.

Through the years, we have supported National programs.  We sponsored the Third Conference at Hoftra University and hosted Founder’s Day Luncheons.  We were honored to be the host branch at the last birthday party of our Founder.  

Over the years, we have given holiday food baskets, donated to the Boys and Girls Club, Children’s House, Mayor of Hempstead Christmas Needy Funds, Percy Jackson Youth Center, Angel Tree Ministry, Dale Anthony AIDS Victim Fund, Long Island Youth Guidance, Early Childhood Center, African American Heritage Association of Long Island, Bethany House and Interfaith Nutrition Network (The INN), and many more. We have manned the phones for the United Negro College Telethon and supported it financially.

A highlight of Bertha Harris’ 33rd Anniversary was the installation of our Honorary Member Key Man, the dynamic Rev, Phillip McDowell, Pastor of South Hempstead Baptist Church.

In November 2017, Bertha Harris Branch will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.  With God’s help, the officers and members will continue diligently to work towards investment in children and service to the community.

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© 2017 by Key Women of America, Inc.