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Collegians Blog

Posted On: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 08:30 AM, by Mattie Loder
Mattie Loder
Delta Eta/Kansas State
As a non-profit leadership studies minor, I am required to complete a 150-hour internship with a non-profit organization. I had never heard of CASA until I went through recruitment my freshman year. I knew that when I visited Delta Eta Chapter on Service and Philanthropy Day during recruitment, I wanted to learn more about this amazing organization, whether I became a Theta or not. When it came time in the spring of my junior year to start applying for non-profit internships, Sunflower CASA (the local CASA chapter) immediately came to mind. I contacted them, and within a week had obtained an internship for the fall semester.

Since my internship began, I have started several new initiatives in the Manhattan area, including raising awareness on campus by chalking on the sidewalks (a common form of communication at K-State), sharing facts about our mission and about our effectiveness over the past 30+ years. I have held multiple informational sessions, called "Conversations with CASA," in several of the surrounding communities of the Manhattan area to reach potential friends, donors, and volunteers. I have completed a grant application for a project that Sunflower CASA operates, giving me the opportunity to share the effectiveness and impact of our local chapter with the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation. I have also helped market and assist at some of our fundraising events, which have given me an opportunity to further share my passion about CASA with community members and have some fun while doing so.

One of the most important things that I have worked on during my internship is strengthening the relationship between Delta Eta Chapter and Sunflower CASA. Delta Eta has several members who serve as CASA volunteers and is the single largest donor to Sunflower CASA in Riley County. This year, we hosted our 18th annual WildKAT Chase Superhero 5K to benefit Sunflower CASA. Between that event and our spring philanthropy, Cravings for CASA (a dessert bar with a few carnival-type activities), we raised more than $19,000. We also hosted a social event for Delta Eta members and CASA volunteers and their families to mingle at a Halloween-themed mixer. We are hoping to make this an annual event and are expecting even better attendance next year!

My experience as an intern has helped widen my influence for good, strengthened my leadership skills, cultivated my creative abilities, and met some of the needs of Sunflower CASA. The collaboration that has now existed for 25 years between CASA and Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity is very special, and I believe that it is mutually beneficial. The executive director of Sunflower CASA Project, Inc., is herself a member of a Greek organization and is always expressing her gratitude towards not only Delta Eta but also Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity as a whole. She understands the importance of the partnership at both the local and national levels and has taken the time to communicate her gratitude and compliments to our Fraternity president, Laura Doerre.

I am looking forward to what the future will bring following my internship here and to sharing with others what Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and CASA mean to me.

Mattie Loder, Delta Eta/Kansas State, is a senior accounting major with a minor in non-profit leadership studies. After her May graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in accounting from Kansas State.

Posted On: Monday, September 29, 2014 09:30 AM, by Celia Bressler
Celia (center) and other Service Trip attendees.
As I boarded my plane to New Orleans for Service Trip 2014 this past July, I was nervous and excited. I knew none of the 19 women I would be spending my time with for the next few days, but I knew it'd be a great time. Yes, we were sisters, but we were all sisters who had never met before, from all over North America.

Almost none of us knew much about the culture of New Orleans before we arrived. On our first night, we were asked to think about our assumptions about New Orleans before we had a tour of the city and began our service. The city is basically a "melting pot" of cultures, and during the tour—in our air-conditioned van—we began to see all of the history and different people lining the roads and sidewalks. It was mind-blowing to think that all of the huge beautiful, colorful houses had still been preserved throughout hundreds of years and the devastating Hurricane Katrina. One thing we started to pick up on was that although the hurricane shook the city's morale, its citizens remained strong and began to rebuild their city bigger and better than ever. Although most of New Orleans has recovered and been rebuilt, Katrina's mark can still be seen throughout the city.

Our tour guide asked us if there was anything specific we wanted to see. We were all exhausted, and the Starbucks we were passing looked extremely appealing, but we also wanted to see the Lower Ninth Ward. So I responded to our guide, "Starbucks and the Lower Ninth Ward." This is where we began, as we called it, to "check our privilege." We were able to drive around in the nice air-conditioned van and get some expensive coffee before going to see some of the dilapidated houses that were still untouched since Katrina. (Note that we didn't go to Starbucks; we instead decided to "check our privilege.")

Each day of service had something new for us, such as using pens for paintbrushes, that reminded us how lucky we are to wake up and be able to choose from three pairs tennis shoes instead of having none. At the end of every day, it was so rewarding to see how thankful the people were, and how proud we were of what we had done.

On one of the last nights, we were asked to write in our journals about how we would take what we've learned back to our chapters and what we would do when we got back. I'd love for my chapter to become more involved with CASA. I enjoyed my time at the local CASA office wrapping presents, knowing that when a little kid unwrapped it, he or she would smile.

It's easy to get wrapped up in studying and socializing and forget about what's outside of the "college bubble." This trip opened my eyes to see what's beyond the surface, and it was even more amazing having 19 other sisters with me who shared the Fraternity values. It was such a privilege to go on this trip, to help others, and to represent Kappa Alpha Theta in the city of New Orleans, as a group of leading women.

Celia Bressler, Zeta Eta, is a sophomore at Wofford College.

Posted On: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 09:00 AM, by Zeenat Yahya
Zeenat painting a house during Service Trip 2014.
I had the opportunity to spend a week this summer participating in the Kappa Alpha Theta Service Trip in New Orleans. Prior to the trip, I had no idea what to expect. This whole experience was out of my comfort zone, but I was so excited to embark on the journey to New Orleans, and meet sisters from all over the U.S. and Canada.

From volunteering at a local CASA and learning more about what our philanthropy really does, to helping out The ARC, an organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I was able to give my time to those who needed it, and grow as a person at the same time. These experiences taught me to really appreciate the little things in life, and really understand what privileges I was given growing up from having a proper environment to learn in to simply appreciating the home I grew up in.

Throughout the trip, I saw how many lives we were able to impact by simply just giving our time. It was also empowering to present Kappa Alpha Theta in a positive manner, and break any negative stereotype of being a member of a Greek organization.

As a result of this service trip, I've developed a better understanding of what service really means, and I want to continue giving my time and potentially become more involved in philanthropy and service efforts. As a Theta, I will hold this experience dear to my heart. I was able to understand who I was and the impact I could have on my community by being the leading woman that Theta has taught me to be.

Zeenat Yahya, Zeta Nu, is a junior at UC Davis.

Posted On: Monday, August 25, 2014 09:30 AM, by Ellen Yin
Ironbrawl is the chapter's signature philanthropy event.
What many part of Oregon State University's Greek life call "the best week of the year," Beta Epsilon's annual philanthropy proved to be another successful week of fundraising, fun, and football—with the added accomplishment of a record-breaking year for the chapter. The ladies of Beta Epsilon raised more than $23,700 for CASA, in large part through the generous donations of alumnae they reached out to in donation letters.

The three-day event in late April commenced with a Zumba class taught by their own sister, past chapter chief executive officer and now current Panhellenic president, Sarah McGregor. McGregor, a certified instructor who regularly teaches classes at OSU's recreation center, enthusiastically led 250 people in a packed gym through an hour of energetic dancing. The second day began with a Community Day of Service in collaboration with Parks & Recreation, where more than 100 Greek members and other students volunteered their time. Even the rain couldn't put a damper on the smiles of all who came out to help. Later that evening, more than 200 community members ran through OSU's beautiful campus for the Run to Our Casa 5K. Some Thetas chose to participate in the 5K, while the rest lined the streets with signs to point the way and encourage the runners.

The philanthropy culminated on Friday with Ironbrawl, the highly anticipated flag football tournament. The Student Legacy Park was taken over by teams donned in Theta gear, with participation from all 11 Panhellenic sororities, 20 fraternities, and other co-ops and groups on campus. Many groups created multiple teams, and there were lots of spectators who came to watch their favorite team, with many outside of the Greek community in the audience. The widespread support from diverse campus groups made the event that much more inclusive, competitive, and fun. The leadership of Service and Philanthropy Director Katie Mannion, Chief Marketing Officer Ashley Morris, and the passion and hard work of all the sisters in Theta made the three-day production possible.

In addition to the money raised from Ironbrawl, the unique success of this year can also be attributed to apparel sales, check-in donation jars, restaurant nights, and the incredible support of Theta alumnae. As articulated by Chief Operating Officer Catie Ellis and what all the sisters would undoubtedly echo, "To think that we can help train more CASA volunteers with the money we have raised is exciting and extremely heartwarming."

Ellen Yin, Beta Epsilon/Oregon State, serves her chapter as the communications director.

Posted On: Monday, August 18, 2014 08:30 AM, by Kelsey Yelich
Kelsey (fourth on the right) and the Sassy Seven, visiting Theta headquarters during ELI (click to enlarge).
Merriam-Webster lists the definition of leadership as "a position of a group, organization, etc." Many different definitions of leadership were given to the 64 participants of Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) upon our arrival on July 10. But we were then asked to come up with our own definition of leadership. Little did we know that throughout the course of our weekend at Butler University, these definitions would change drastically.

While many may think that leaders only fit into one specific mold, this idea could not be more wrong. ELI is designed to showcase different models of leadership and how these models can be used in order to not only improve our Theta chapters but the world.

When I first arrived in Indy with my carry-on in hand, I had no idea what to expect. Being the only participant from my chapter, I knew I was going to have to play to my strengths in order to get the most out of my experience. During ELI, I was surrounded with nothing but love and support. It was amazing to know that I was in a room with 64 other Thetas who were here for the same reason: to learn how to become a better role model and leader in today's ever-changing society.

The sessions dove into the different topics including StrengthsQuest, the Relational Leadership Model, Ethical Leadership, Courageous Leadership, and how to go about leading change.

The leaders of the institute, Melissa Shaub and Maggie Harris, took these topics and helped us understand how to apply them to our lives as college women. Whether it involves issues within our chapters or on campus, they used real-world examples in order to showcase how the different types of leadership can really make a difference.

The time spent with my small group had the most impact on me. Known as the "Sassy Seven," our group consisted of members from around the country and even Canada! My group leader, Amanda Gaglio, encouraged us to go outside of our "boxes." For me, this meant speaking up during large group sessions and not being afraid to put myself out there. I felt so encouraged by my small group, and they made the whole experience that much better. It was amazing to know that not only are we friends, but we are sisters, and we are there because we wanted to become the best leaders possible. (Bettie Locke has a quote that says, "Just think, if it grows and multiplies, it may someday bring together into sisterly relationship women from all parts of the country who have never seen each other before, who are all friends, because of Theta.")

Emerging Leaders Institute is so much more than sitting and learning about leadership. It's about pushing yourself in order to become a leader in today's modern world. I highly encourage any Theta collegian to apply for this truly life-changing experience and learn what it means to be a leading woman.

Kelsey Yelich, Eta Tau, is a sophomore at the University of Tampa.

Posted On: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 09:30 AM, by Pia Holtmeier
Pia (second on the right) and Epsilon Lambda members at the Light of Hope Ceremony.
The Epsilon Lambda chapter at Dickinson College prides itself on its close relationship with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Our sisters go beyond the basic philanthropic requirements to immerse themselves in the local CASA branch. The Cumberland County CASA has been a part of the community for 14 years, and Epsilon Lambda members have worked hard to cultivate and maintain strong relationships with their volunteers. In the spring semester, we participated in and organized two events to benefit Cumberland County and Pennsylvania CASA.

Each year, new CASA volunteers are sworn in during the Light of Hope Ceremony at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Carlisle. In early April, CASA welcomed five new members, and Epsilon Lambda was present during the ceremony to help make the event a memorable one. The marketing committee worked together to provide the food for the celebration, and sisters volunteered to help to set up the event. During the ceremony, everyone passes a candle from person to person, representing the hope that CASA volunteers bring to the lives of children everywhere. Light of Hope is one of our chapter's favorite events of the year, because it highlights the work of CASA volunteers, and gives them the recognition that they so deserve. We really love that our chapter can work so closely with our local CASA chapter; in the past, we've even had sisters work as CASA interns for their junior and senior years.

Later in April, Epsilon Lambda hosted our second annual Cuisine for CASA. Our signature philanthropy event brings together both the school and the community to support CASA. We work with restaurants and shops in the area to provide food, entertainment, and items for a silent auction. We sell tickets to the Dickinson student population, and CASA invites all of its volunteers, including one of the local Carlisle judges who works with CASA. All of the proceeds go to the local CASA association and Theta Foundation. Cuisine for CASA has grown quite popular within the Dickinson community even in just its second year. All of our sisters work hard to make the event a success and we work to involve other clubs and Greek organizations on campus through a dessert challenge.

Epsilon Lambda recognizes the hard work and dedication of CASA advocates everywhere for their efforts in being a voice for the child in need. Our chapter is extremely fortunate to be based so close to a local CASA chapter, because we get to witness firsthand the great work CASA volunteers do.

Share with us how you and/or your chapter promote and support CASA in the Comments section below!

Pia Holtmeier, Epsilon Lambda/Dickinson, is the service and philanthropy director for her chapter.

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