Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Message From the Chairman: Thankful for Lifelong Membership

For well over a century, women have been afforded the opportunity to pursue membership in sororities. The recruitment process over the decades might have changed, but the single benefit that sets apart the sorority experience is lifetime membership. It is fitting during the month of “thanks giving” that I join over 4.8 million women worldwide to celebrate lifetime membership in our fraternal organizations.

Each woman has a unique story of why she chose to become a member of a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) inter/national sorority. Where and when it happened, and what purpose and meaning it provides are her story to tell. The media presents a certain image of sorority membership far from what we depict. This month, it is my privilege to share the stories of two former NPC chairmen and my own.

Elizabeth Ahlemeyer Quick, Gamma Phi Beta, served as NPC chairman from 2005-07. Here is Betty’s story:

“Joining Gamma Phi Beta Sorority at Indiana University was one of the best actions of my college years. I pledged as a sophomore after being involved in student government and noticing the sisterhood that existed between members. As an only child this was a new experience. I learned life skills that continue to serve me well. My parents were very supportive of my activities and enjoyed getting to know my ‘sisters.’

“Living in eight cities in four states, I found sisters in every location. We all had Gamma Phi Beta experiences, making it easy to form friendships that continue. Volunteering for Gamma Phi Beta International led me to a special opportunity: involvement in NPC. My NPC friendships enrich my life. My sorority journey has been an amazing adventure filled with friendships that continue to grow.”

Jane H. Sutton, Alpha Xi Delta, served as NPC chairman from 2011-13. Here is Jane’s story: 

“I’m a first-generation member of a Greek-letter organization, so it took a while before I even realized that there were these groups of women on the Western Carolina University campus that had something special to offer. I pledged Alpha Xi Delta my junior year of college. Even though only two short years, Alpha Xi Delta was a significant part of my college experience.

“When I headed into the real world, I thought sorority was just a college thing. I had never been so wrong! I missed the sisterhood and friendships, so I stayed involved in alumnae associations and by volunteering. In 1993 I was asked to serve on the NPC delegation. That opportunity for service changed the course of my life. I came to realize that even though the women who serve NPC wear different badges and took different oaths, they all believe that sorority can make a positive difference in a woman’s life. I’m grateful that I can help ensure that the legacy of our 26 member organizations’ founders is alive for generations to come by telling my story for a lifetime.” 

Unlike Betty and Jane, I became a sorority member through different circumstances. Growing up I witnessed a mother who served and continues to serve her sorority in many capacities. She would unequivocally tell you that she has gained more from her membership than she has given. Choosing a university with no fraternal community, my path to membership in an NPC sorority came through alumnae initiation. Countless women, who for a variety of reasons did not join in the traditional manner during college, are offered membership in this way. Watch the video below to see a heartwarming story.

Membership is a gift and privilege I was given to respect and treasure – and to share with others.

Betty’s, Jane’s and my stories provide just a glimpse into the impact and value derived from lifetime sorority membership. We are thankful for the vast opportunities it has provided us and others. I hope that our stories inspire you to share your sorority narrative about why you’re thankful for a lifetime of sisterhood.

Best wishes for a Thanksgiving holiday filled with friends, family and joy!