A New Year, Four New Cities and Even More Lives Impacted by Fraternity Day of Service

Pi Beta Phi hosted its Fraternity Day of Service Signature Events for the second year, and we’ve already started planning for the 2016 events! The inaugural events were held in Long Beach, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Houston, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee. Last year, more than 20 alumnae organizations and chapters across the nation applied for the opportunity to host the second Fraternity Day of Service Signature Events in their cities. After carefully reviewing each of the applications, four new cities were selected. These events were held over the weekend of February 27, and were a great success overall!

ATLANTA

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Over the course of six short hours, the Atlanta and Alpharetta Alumnae Organizations gave away 20,000 books to 50 well-deserving organizations and elementary schools from the Atlanta area. The Atlanta and Alpharetta Alumnae Organizations were supported by collegiate members from Georgia Alpha and South Carolina Alpha, members of the Panhellenic Council at Emory and alumnae from the Augusta Alumnae Organization. Pi Phi shoppers walked teachers and executive directors from the local organizations through the tables of books to select between 175 and 500 books each. They were overjoyed to receive these books to support their reading programs. Children who came along were busy making bookmarks, listening to stories and enjoying other activities. As Stephanie Hieber, the Media Specialist with Drew Charter School, shared, “Words cannot express the depth of our community’s gratitude for your generosity and thoughtfulness.” Similar thanks were expressed by Marlene Zeiler, President of Children Read, who described the event as a “truly magnificent afternoon” and stated, “Everyone was so helpful and friendly; it made it even more terrific.”

Special thanks also go to Home Depot for supplying shopping carts and pallet carts for us to use, and to Sandy Springs United Methodist Church for allowing us to use their gym for the event.

DES MOINES

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Des Moines area Pi Phis were thrilled to host the Signature Event at Camp Dodge, the headquarters of the Iowa National Guard. Not only did the guardsmen graciously provide the space and many supplies for the event, but they also helped unpack and sort the 20,000 books. Of course, there were many Pi Phi volunteers, including members of the Des Moines Alumnae Organization, Iowa Beta Chapter at Simpson College and Iowa Gamma Chapter at Iowa State University. Even the men of Phi Kappa Psi chapter at Iowa State came to help. Everyone had a wonderful time getting to know new sisters while we unpacked and sorted the books.

The next day, recipient groups drove from all over Iowa — even four hours away — to pick up their books despite subzero temperatures and snowy roads. A map of Iowa was placed near the entrance of the room and as each group arrived, they drew a dot on their city. By the end of the day, the map was covered in dots. The Des Moines Pi Phis took books to Findley Elementary School and Perkins Elementary School. The students were allowed to choose which two books they wanted to take home. A Pi Phi alumnae even dressed up as The Cat in the Hat for storytime with the students. Thank you to the many volunteers and committee members who made the event a success!

OKLAHOMA CITY

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The original book distribution day in Oklahoma City was a snowy one! After many hours of sorting 20,000 books of all types at the Feed the Children Warehouse, members of the Oklahoma City Alumnae Organization and collegians from The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University were looking forward to giving away all of the newly organized books. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and sent a rare Oklahoma snow storm. Despite the inclement weather, we were able to give away about five thousand books to great organizations and schools from several towns in the heart of Oklahoma. On the second distribution day, Mother Nature was very kind. It was a gorgeous day!! The Oklahoma City Alumnae Organization was thrilled to give away the remaining books to an incredibly diverse group of recipients. The organization felt lucky to be a part of such a worthy cause in the community that they love. An email received from one of the recipient groups expressed the gratitude that is certainly felt by many. Here is an excerpt from that email:

“WOW WOW WOW!!! How do I even begin to express my gratitude for including me in this opportunity? Let me explain how you have changed lives in my school, Sooner Elementary.  My school is a high poverty school. Many of my students do not have access to readable or AR (accelerated reader) testable books at home.  I began a book exchange program two years ago with the hopes to get brand new books in to my sweet students’ hands. Brand new hadn’t happened yet, but books they could read and test had. That was until my classroom flooded last March and I lost about 1,000 books. I started reaching out everywhere I could and was able to get my hands on books. Still not new, but the program never had to be shut down. When I arrived at your warehouse on Saturday, I had NO IDEA the opportunity that I was getting. 400 books was a blessing but 400 NEW BOOKS!!!! I was floored. I was in brand new book heaven. Every single person working was so sweet and helpful.  My students have no idea what is coming this Friday. I typically exchange about 100 books every Friday. I am sure that I will double that once they know these are brand new. This will be like Christmas in March.”

PHOENIX

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The Burton-Barr Central Library was extremely busy with volunteers, recipient groups and the children from the Phoenix community beginning on Thursday, February 26 through Saturday, February 28. On Friday, February 27 the task of sorting 20,000 books by age group and title was not as daunting because there were nearly 125 volunteers from the Phoenix Alumnae Organization, the Arrowhead-West Phoenix Alumnae Organization and Arizona Beta chapter doing the work! On Saturday, February 28, exactly 85 recipient groups from Phoenix selected as many as 400 books each for the children they serve.  Some recipient groups were familiar faces to alumnae organization members as they represented several of the local literacy partners of the Phoenix Alumnae Organization and Arizona Beta chapter.

The high point of the day for alumnae and collegians was the community event held on Saturday. More than 300 children from the Phoenix area participated in twelve activity stations based on Dr. Seuss® books- one station made Cat in the Hat hats, one station had children navigate though a Lorax obstacle course and another had children cut and decorate a heart to give to the Grinch.  Two children even arrived dressed up as Thing One and Thing Two! Each child left with a tote bag, two books and plenty of great memories.

The Signature Events are only part of the story of Fraternity Day of Service! Across the nation, organizations and chapters celebrated Pi Beta Phi’s commitment to literacy and service by hosting events and activities in their own cities. We are so grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who made this year’s Signature Events such a wonderful success.

Do you think your city would make the next great location for Pi Beta Phi’s Fraternity Day of Service Signature Event? Applications to host a Signature Event are due on May 18, 2015. You can download the application at www.pibetaphi.org/fraternitydayofservice. Please contact Bree Melton, Literacy Initiatives Coordinator at bmelton@pibetaphi.org with any questions.

Stories from the Road: LDC Darrah

This post is courtesy of Illinois Eta Darrah Hulva, Leadership Development Consultant.

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Over the past year as a Resident Leadership Development Consultant for the University of Tampa, I have been blessed with the presence of the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater Alumnae Organizations, and the women have changed my perspective of Pi Beta Phi’s value, ‘Lifelong Commitment.’ Below, you will find why you should become involved with your local alumnae organization and why I have chosen to stay involved with Pi Beta Phi just a year after graduation.

10 Reasons Why You Should Join a Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Organization

1.    If you are new to an area, the alumnae club is a great way to make friends.

To embark on my LDC journey, I moved over 1,000 miles from my hometown, my university, friends, and family to Tampa, Florida.  Within just weeks of moving to the new city, I had been invited to dinner with women from the alumnae organization, and since that first dinner, they have become some of my best friends.  I haven’t celebrated a birthday, a milestone, or any of my achievements without them in the past year.

2.    You have the opportunity to meet people all over the United States and Canada, maybe even all across the world.

Pi Beta Phi has over 250 Alumnae Organizations or Pocket organizations across the United States and Canada, and there is even an opportunity to start a new club if there is not one in your area.  I was shocked by where the women in the Tampa-area organizations were all from — not just Florida — and the women ranged from recent graduates like myself to women celebrating 25, 50 and even 75 years of being in Pi Beta Phi.

Click here to find an alumnae club in your area.

3.    Networking.  Networking. Networking.

Not only did the women of the Tampa-area alumnae organizations vary in age and hometown, but the women came from very different jobs and career backgrounds as well.  Over the course of my year with these women, I have seen them help one another for interviews, prepare resumes and cover letters and even serve as references for one another.  The women of our alumnae organizations are determined to see one another succeed.  As I was applying for graduate school at the end of LDC journey, these women helped to make sure I was prepared and supported well in my next chapter of life.

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4.     Joining philanthropic efforts and volunteering with women in your area.

Just like serving in your undergraduate capacity, the women of the alumnae organizations participate in volunteer and service organizations with one another.  This past month, the Florida Zeta chapter and Clearwater Alumnae Organization presented local impact grants to West Tampa Elementary School.

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5.     Enjoying a night out of the house once a month or a few times a year.

Once a month, the women of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater come together for Angel’s Night Out.  We try new restaurants, new experiences and even travel to new places throughout the Tampa area.  Who doesn’t like getting out of the house one night a month for dinner with friends and plenty of laughter?

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6.     April 28 is always a Founders’ Day celebration.

Just one year ago, I was celebrating Founders’ Day as a senior member of the Illinois Eta chapter. This year, I was thrilled to join Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg for their inaugural Pi Beta Phi Founders’ Day celebration with a Pi Beta Phi chapter, Florida Zeta.  Over 100 women representing 31 chapters attended Saturday’s Founders’ Day event, and I loved hearing stories, celebrating achievements and meeting even more women who share similar undergraduate experiences and the very same values as myself.

7.     Just like your undergraduate Pi Beta Phi sisters, they become motivation and encouragement.

Throughout the year, I have attended numerous races to support the alumnae women and have sat at Angel’s Night Out dinners listening to the women talk about their running talents.  At some point, I decided to conquer a race of my own, and the women were full of support, encouragement and provided motivation like I had for them earlier in the year.  A few other members of the organization decided to join me for the race as well, and we were so proud to share our accomplishments.

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8.     The Foundation offers scholarships for undergraduate women or alumnae for advancing their education or even if a woman is in need.

The Pi Beta Phi Foundation graciously provides alumnae with academic and need-based scholarships such as the Emma Harper Turner Fund.  Looking to advance your education?  Because of support for the Pi Beta Phi Foundation, Pi Beta Phi is able to give back.  The Emma Harper Turner Fund is a program developed to provide financial assistance to collegians or alumnae in dire financial need.

Need more information, or want to support the Foundation?  A little goes a long way… donate today!

9.     Providing impact and positive influence to the undergraduate women.

The Tampa-area alumnae organizations were just recently blessed with the colonization of the Florida Zeta chapter, so the women of the alumnae organizations have had the opportunity to serve as ‘Slightly Older Sisters’ to the collegiate women.  Even without this program in place, the alumnae have been invited to events with chapter where they have been able to speak with collegians and help them network, become more confident or even just form friendships.

An alumna of the Decatur-area where my chapter was located has left quite a mark on my undergraduate and alumnae experience.  Betty Zeaman, of Decatur, Illinois, was just one alumna who I strive to be like in my lifelong commitment and dedication to the wine and silver blue.

10.   You want to ensure the future of Pi Beta Phi.

Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Organizations continue to provide women with social opportunities, networking and a chance to carry out the value of lifelong commitment.  Support from alumnae like yourself will ensure the future of our Grand Council, Alumnae Advisory Committees, Regional Teams, Chapter House Corps and much more.  Don’t wait — if you are not already part of an alumnae organization, get in contact with someone today.  You may be the future of your area, the future of a collegian needing guidance or support or the future of the continued success of Pi Beta Phi.

Special thanks to the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater alumnae organizations for showing me how fun, supportive, and important it is to be a part of a Pi Beta Phi alumnae organization.  You have all touched my life in such a wonderful way, and I cannot wait to provide a recent graduate with the support and encouragement that you did for me.

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