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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, October 20, 2014 09:00 AM, by Melissa Shaub
Guest blogger and CASA CEO Michael Piraino shares his thoughts about Theta's 25-year partnership with CASA.

When people ask me what CASA is all about, I tell them it's a movement. A volunteer movement of advocacy for abused and neglected children. Throughout the past 25 years, our partnership with Kappa Alpha Theta has helped thousands and thousands of those children in so many ways.

Every day, tens of thousands of Court Appointed Special Advocates across the country stand up for kids who might otherwise navigate an overburdened foster care system feeling lost, scared and alone. Every dollar raised has helped train dedicated volunteers or spread awareness of the cause. Because of this partnership, many Thetas have decided to be trained to become volunteers and help children in their communities. And, caring Theta alumnae continue to support CASA long after they have graduated. It's a powerful partnership that has reached out across the country and continues to impact lives wherever Thetas are and beyond.

When I think of the power of this partnership, I can't help but think of the executive director of Tulsa CASA. Today, Maura Wilson works closely with Gamma Tau/Tulsa, and she can't say enough about all the help she gets from them every year. But, what shows the true long-lasting strength of this partnership is that Maura started as a Theta at the same university.

As she explained to me, "I remember sitting at a meeting when I first joined Theta and hearing all about CASA. I said to myself, 'When I'm old enough I'm going to become a CASA volunteer.'" And she did!

Together, National CASA and Theta have made a huge difference in helping abused and neglected children. But, despite the progress we have made, we know that more needs to be done, especially when we hear statistics like these:

  • A child enters foster care every 2 minutes.

  • A child ages out of foster care once every 22 minutes.

  • A child dies due to maltreatment every 5.3 hours.


Today, even though a CASA or Guardian Ad Litem volunteer is assigned to a child every 15 minutes, only one-third of children in need receive the life-saving support that CASA volunteers provide.

As I travel the country talking to people about National CASA, I tell them that they have the ability to change those statistics. All of us can lift up the life of a child by volunteering, making a donation, or sharing awareness of what CASA does with others.

Thank you, Thetas, for being such a mighty voice for CASA. You have been a powerful force in the lives of our nation's most vulnerable children for the past 25 years. I look forward to all we can accomplish together during this 25th anniversary celebration year and in the years to come.

In the upcoming months, you'll receive more information about the Theta/CASA partnership and how you can help with the good work that we're already doing to help foster children.

Michael Piraino is CEO of the National CASA Association. He has been a lifelong advocate for children at home and abroad, working to end child poverty, abuse and neglect, and to champion reforms in foster care.

Posted On: Thursday, October 16, 2014 12:00 PM, by Elise Connor Rowan
This year, on October 19, we will once again celebrate Bettie Locke Hamilton's birthday with acts of community service around the world. Here are the ABCs of service to give you some ideas on what you or your chapter could plan to participate in Theta's very own holiday to spread the widest influence for good.

Ask your local CASA program if they could use your help at their office or with special projects!

Bring Chipotle burritos to people living on the street. Chicken or steak?

Clean up a local park, highway, or beach.

Donate blood and possibly save a life.

Empower young girls by spending time with your local chapter of Girls, Inc.

Fill boxes with dry meals for organizations like Feed My Starving Children that distribute the food to children in countries like Uganda.

Give your time to great organizations that impact your local community.

Host a career fair at a local school or community center based on your members' majors and career goals.

Invite a friend to join you volunteering for Meals on Wheels.

Join other volunteers and spend a day building a house for a deserving family with Habitat for Humanity.

Kick-start a tutoring program in your community.

Lift up CASA volunteers by writing them letters, thanking them for their service to the community.

Meet with other local Thetas (college or alumnae) and plan a service opportunity together.

Nominate organizations to serve in your chapter meeting. Your members may have some great suggestions they are passionate about.

Organize food supplies at a local food pantry.

Plant a tree.

Quilt some blankets for a local children's shelter.

Read a book to a low-income child through Reach Out and Read.

Serve a meal at a local homeless shelter.

Treat young ladies at an afterschool program to a Theta spa day.

Unite with United Way in your community; your local office can direct you to several volunteer options from serving food to landscaping.

Visit a retirement home in your community and ask what your city or town was like when they were your age.

Walk dogs at your local animal shelter or Humane Society.

Xhibit the widest influence for good during Day of Service and every day.

Yak on and on to others about serving and get them excited, too.

Zero in on what the urgent needs are within your community, and see what your chapter can do the other 364 days of the year!

Don't forget to take pictures of what you do for Day of Service and submit them in the photo contest! More information is available on the Theta website.

Elise Connor Rowan, Gamma/Butler, is the service and philanthropy committee chairman for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Monday, October 6, 2014 08:30 AM, by Lynne McCaul Miller
It's not so bad. I'll stop feeling this way soon. I just have to get over it. Move past it. It's not a big deal. This is nothing compared to what other people go through. I just can't take it. I'm so tired. When will this end? It has to end...

These might be only some thoughts that go through the mind of a person experiencing depression or grief. Often, it is hard for an individual to come to terms with their feelings and emotions. To seek help. To find their way out of the dark.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, with Thursday, October 9 promoting Depression Screening Awareness Day. While one of our goals for Sisters Supporting Sisters is to bring awareness to Thetas about mental health illnesses, we also want to make sure that our sisters who are struggling with a mental illness feel the support and power of our sisterhood. To encourage them to seek help. To help them get out of the dark.

During the month of October, we are asking Thetas everywhere to participate in the Love is Louder social media movement to show our love and support to all of our sisters—in Theta, in Panhellenic, in life—and let them know that LOVE IS LOUDER than depression. Love is Louder was started by The Jed Foundation, MTV, and Brittany Snow to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. You can participate by taking a photo of your hand with "Love is Louder" or "Theta Love is Louder" written on your palm (see photo on the left). Please join us in this campaign by sharing your photos answering this statement: "Theta Love is Louder than _____." Tag your photos on social media with the following hashtag: #LoveIsLouder. Let Theta love be felt everywhere.

We would also like to encourage you—our collegian and alumnae members—to participate in Depression Screening Awareness Day by taking the mental health screening provided on the Sisters Supporting Sisters website (www.sisterssupportingsisters.org). Links are provided for members and the general community.

The Sisters Supporting Sisters program is made possible by Theta Foundation.

Lynne McCaul Miller, Mu/Allegheny, is the wellness committee chairman for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and is a Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Monday, September 22, 2014 10:00 AM, by Anne Humphries Arseneau
Anne Humphries Arseneau
Beta Lambda/
William & Mary
I've spent the last four years learning more about hazing prevention. I always knew hazing was bad, but I didn't really know what to do about it. That's a scary thing to admit for this student affairs professional who spends her work days supporting college women and men in activities/clubs/fraternities/sororities. Thanks to some great immersive learning (Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention and the excellent resources offered by HazingPrevention.Org), I know a little bit more than I did a few years ago.

Today begins National Hazing Prevention Week, and I want to share with you the most important things I've learned that have helped me think about it and talk about it differently:

People don't want to hurt other people. The problem is, if we aren't killing people or physically maiming them, we just don't recognize it as hazing. That's not a standard I'm comfortable with. People don't set out to hurt their (new) friend. But most hazing situations "just got out of hand" and typically involved excessive amounts of alcohol. Guess what? Things can quickly get out of hand.

Telling the new member "you don't have to do anything you don't want to..." won't mean you aren't hazing. Thinking that you are giving a choice when there is such a significant power differential means there actually isn't a choice - no matter what you say.

People have a deep-seated human desire to belong. College-age women and men are also seeking "rite of passage" experiences. These two compelling forces that lead to hazing behavior aren't going anywhere. So it's up to us to do better.

As a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, how can you do better? For me, it's about human dignity. No one should ever be demeaned or exposed to harm in their efforts to be part of campus life or our sisterhood. We shouldn't tolerate shenanigans that serve no purpose in making us better members or better women. In every activity, event, and initiative that is part of your new member program, always ask yourself the following:

• Will this help the new member become a better woman?
• Will this help the new member become a better member of Kappa Alpha Theta?
• What are the aspirations of Kappa Alpha Theta? (Think social, intellectual, and moral growth.)
• What do we want new members to experience as they are join our sisterhood?
• What is the purpose of the activity that you are asking them to be involved in?

That's your litmus test. A little reflection and scrutiny can go a long way. If individual members and chapters would just examine all of the activities and events (both on and off the grid) that occur during the new member experience, we'd be in a much better place. Ensure that the PURPOSE of the activity is aligned with the GOALS of Kappa Alpha Theta so that the INTENTION is to help the new member become a better woman and sister because of her new member experience, not in spite of it.

That's it. It's really that simple. It's not a list of what you can or can't do. Just treat people with dignity and make your experiences purposeful. Help one another become better friends, sisters, and women. Every day.

Anne Humphries Arseneau, Beta Lambda/William & Mary, is the director of student leadership development at William & Mary, and is a charter Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Thursday, September 18, 2014 09:00 AM, by Liz Appel Rinck
Summer 2014 issue
"If I were to create a piece [of art] that portrayed Theta, I would use silk threads and do a very loose in-and-out weaving with a layer of wax in between. We're all separate, but woven together in each other's lives."

Those words were spoken by Lisa Bick, Beta/Indiana, whose artwork and life story grace several pages of the Summer 2014 issue of the Theta magazine. What lovely sentiments they express! We hope that the Theta magazine also weaves Thetas together, allowing readers to learn about sisters they will never meet but with whom they are connected by their Fraternity experience.

If you're receiving the print version of the magazine, it should arrive in your mailbox this week or next. If you're not, here's an explanation of our distribution system. On this page, you can also access the online version of all issues, dating back to 2006.

Whether you're reading the online or print version, we hope you enjoy meeting Lisa Bick and many other Thetas in the current issue of our magazine!

Liz Appel Rinck, Gamma/Butler, is the director of communications for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and is a charter Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Monday, September 8, 2014 09:00 AM, by Cindy Henderson Zetterman
Cindy (center) and other participants in the Run to Overcome event in 2013 (click to enlarge).
Recently our family "celebrated" what would have been our son Adam's 38th birthday. Adam was the second of five children...our oldest son. He was an easy child to raise from the moment he was born. He had such a good nature - quiet and reserved but also a fun sense of humor. He and our other children have brought my husband John and I much joy. He was very talented in athletics as well as music and academics. He received many awards during high school in each of these areas. Adam was very close to his siblings and with us. We've always had family dinners every few weeks, especially since all our children have grown and live independently. Adam was always there.

After his high school years, as he started college, he began a battle with depression, and it often reared its ugly head and interfered with his lifetime dream of being a nurse. He struggled to complete classes even though he was more than capable. However, he finally achieved this goal and graduated from University of Nebraska Medical Center with honors. He also found a beautiful and caring girl he wanted to marry and was soon to be engaged. We were so very happy to see him achieve some of his major goals, and actually felt a sense of relief that he "conquered" depression and not the reverse. However, this disease is sneaky and often silent. It is most difficult to understand.

Adam described himself as "trying" to be happy like the people he saw around him. Sometimes it was situational, sometimes not...he just couldn't find relief from this chronic, horrid plague. Even though he achieved the exact job he desired at Bryan Health's cardiac ICU and was successful in his position... Even though he was respected by other staff and frequently requested by patients because he was strong, trusting, and intelligent... Even though he knew beyond all doubt that he was greatly loved by his family, his brothers and sisters, mom and dad, and seven nieces and nephews... He was bound by the ever-tightening ropes of depression, and it caused him to take his life on April 16, 2010. He lost his battle.

It's a stark reality our family faces, not only on special days but every day. Family gatherings are just not the same. We all miss him so very much. We continue to ask the question, "Is there something we missed? Something more we could have done?" We are thankful. Thankful for the 33 years we had together and thankful for the memories. Thankful that God continues to carry us through each day and gives us opportunities to reach out and help others who may themselves struggle with depression, know of someone who struggles with depression, or who have lost a loved one to suicide because of depression.

Depression is a disease with a stigma. This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, a time to promote awareness of suicide prevention and to encourage others to seek help. I recently read a study that stated less than 20 percent of college students who struggle with depression seek help. This stigma often prevents people from seeking help or following recommendations. It often is a quiet disease and can be well hidden. Or not. It has many faces. Some faces are not able to get out of bed. Other faces may be that roommate or sorority sister or classmate you never would have suspected. These faces are male, female, young, old, of higher or lower economic status, higher or lower intellectual abilities, educated, not educated, successful or struggling to become successful.

Through our loss of Adam, the Run to Overcome was born. Our family met and partnered with Bryan Health so that more people can be reached and become aware of the huge numbers of individuals who are affected by this disease in some way, so that somehow the stigma may begin to fade and lives are saved. We work hard at bringing something positive from this huge loss.

The 4th Annual Run to Overcome will be held at Lincoln Southwest High School (Lincoln, Neb.) on September 28. This event is most certainly not a day of doom and gloom, but a day that families, individuals, and groups come out to show support and celebrate life. Our goal is to increase registrations and reach a goal of 2,000. For more information and to register, visit the Bryan Health website.

Cindy Henderson Zetterman was initiated at Rho Chapter and is a University of Nebraska graduate. She lives in Lincoln, Neb., with her family.


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