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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, January 19, 2015 08:00 AM, by Valerie Holloway Skinner
Valerie Skinner
Epsilon Epsilon/
Baylor
In June 2014, Valerie spoke at the CASA Breakfast at Grand Convention in Orlando, Fla. Many Thetas were inspired by Valerie's story and in the few short hours following the breakfast, attendees raised nearly $14,000 with the help of a matching gift from her family foundation.



My name is Valerie Skinner and I am honored to have been asked to share with you my personal, as well as my family's, financial commitment to CASA over the years. I'd like to paint a picture for you of why our family has chosen to support CASA through Theta Foundation since 1999.

As a couple, my parents agreed that the most important role they had was to make sure the physical, emotional, social, educational, and spiritual needs of their children were being met to the best of their abilities. They made many sacrifices over the years to make sure we had nutritious food to eat, new shoes to wear, and good schools to attend. They helped us with our homework, monitored our chores, attended our sporting events, took us to church, and drove us back and forth to all of our volunteer activities.

Was my life perfect growing up? No. But was I completely secure every single day of my formative years that my parents wanted me, loved me, and would provide for me until I was old enough to provide for myself? YES. And because I had that strong, safe, supportive foundation, I have been able to repeat that cycle with my own family. Clearly, I won the parent lottery, and I bet many of you did, too. If you're a child in the foster care system, however, your life looks much different.

As Thetas, we are in a unique position of being in a partnership with an exceptional agency that knows how to show children that someone cares about them. And that this caring person can be trusted to help find them a safe, permanent home where they can thrive and become all they were meant to be.

My dad used to tell me a story about when he was in the first or second grade. His teacher had instructed each child to bring a dime to class to buy a War Bond to support the efforts of the soldiers fighting in World War II. My dad's mother died when he was 3, and because his family was so poor, his stepmother told him they couldn't spare a dime, and so he felt deeply hurt and embarrassed to be the only child who didn't have anything to give. He never forgot that feeling, telling me many times, "Valerie, don't ever be a person who doesn't have a dime to give away." Possibly the most important lesson my father ever taught me was to always be the person who chooses to give. And since he led by such clear example, it was an easy lesson to embrace and understand.

At this stage in my life, I am not going to be able to serve as a judge in a family court. I am not likely to become a CPS worker or even a foster or adoptive parent. Because of other commitments in my life, I currently am not in a position to serve as a CASA advocate. But I do have a dime to give away. And I bet you do, too.

You may already be involved in a fundraiser in your community for your local CASA organization, which is great, but today I am asking you to consider supporting the work of the national organization, because your local chapter relies on them to provide training curriculum, technical support, quality assurance, volunteer recruitment and public awareness. We also rely on our national organization to distribute federal grants and secure private and corporate dollars. The dollars you are raising locally are more efficiently and effectively utilized because of the oversight of our national organization.

As we celebrate our 25th year with CASA, nothing would make me a prouder Theta than to see your dimes and my dimes working together to secure the future of children who are counting on us to care.

Valerie Holloway Skinner, Epsilon Epsilon/Baylor, is a member of the Mid-Cities Alumnae Chapter and is a charter Life Loyal Theta.

Posted On: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 08:30 AM, by Lynne McCaul Miller
The new year brings us all the best of intentions, and we tend to aim high. Exercise, weight loss...whatever your goals, they are likely lofty ones and can feel overwhelming. However, you can take a few simple steps that will improve your mood all year:


  • Cultivate gratitude. It may sound like new-age bunk, but thinking about what you have and being grateful for it is becoming a new mantra in the psychology field for good reason: It works! Next time you're pining for something different in your life, think of this quote: "Never let what you want prevent you from enjoying what you have."

  • Eat enough. You probably already know that being hungry makes you cranky, but research shows that calorie intake that is too low actually releases cortisol, the stress hormone. If you're trying to limit calorie intake, experts recommend cutting as few as 50 calories a day until you reach a comfortable amount.

  • Practice kindness. Being kind to others improves our connections to people, helps us perceive others more positively, and actually produces "feel-good" chemicals in the brain. This one is easy and will improve your mood as well as the moods of those around you.

  • Get outside. Next time your mood is lagging, instead of hitting the coffee pot in the office, take a walk outside. It doesn't have to be long or even vigorous. Just 5 minutes of natural light and some outdoor air will improve your mood.

  • Check yourself. This step takes fewer than 5 minutes and can make a big difference. Take an anonymous and free mental health screening on the Sisters Supporting Sisters page to see if your symptoms need professional attention.


What tips have you found useful to reduce stress and improve your mood? Share in the comments section below.

Screening for Mental Health, Inc., Theta's wellness partner, contributed material for this blog post.

Posted On: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 09:00 AM, by Laura Ware Doerre
Laura Ware Doerre
Fraternity President
Once there were four women. They graduated from college with honors. They were innovators in their professions. They founded new Theta chapters and made the Fraternity stronger throughout their alumnae years. They served selflessly in their communities.

Who were these women? Of course they were Thetas; in fact, they were the first Thetas. They were our founders, the original Kappa Alpha Theta leading women.

This Founders Day, for the 145th time, we pause to commemorate and honor the perseverance, independence, and faith of Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie. Their vision has stood the test of time, and although much has changed since 1870, the values upon which Theta was founded as the first Greek-letter fraternity for women have not. They remain as relevant today as they were 50, 100, and—yes—nearly 150 years ago.

How many organizations for women have not only survived but thrived for nearly one and a half centuries? Not many! I believe Theta continues to flourish because each of us—like our founders—continually strives to personify our ideals and manifest our ritual in unique and powerful ways. Our ideals and ritual are not simply words we say; they are commitments we have made.

On Founders Day, we celebrate not only our history, but also our potential. In Kappa Alpha Theta, our founders created a singular opportunity to learn, serve, and grow in a supportive environment. They created a sisterhood in which we give kind and thoughtful care to one another. And they created a platform upon which we can build and expand to meet new challenges, while staying true to our purpose. Please join me in taking some time this Founders Day to reflect upon what a treasure our Fraternity is and to renew your pledge to its advancement and welfare.

One of the purest affirmations of our commitment to one another is the Friendship Fund. Established to provide gifts to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship, the love and support it demonstrates are proof that Theta is larger than ourselves and that what we give to one another comes full circle. One recipient wrote, "I really cannot put into words my appreciation for the recent gift I received from the Friendship Fund. When I opened your letter, it immediately brought tears to my eyes. I will be forever grateful and hope to someday be on the other end and give back to a sister in need of my help. I am very proud and privileged to be a Theta."

This Founders Day, we can all feel proud of our determined, confident, passionate, and caring founders, just as we can feel privileged to be part of the sisterhood they began, a sisterhood that helps shape us as leading women.

Download this message to use for your chapter's Founders Day celebration.

Laura Ware Doerre, Delta Xi/North Carolina, is the president of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and is a charter Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 08:00 AM, by Lynne McCaul Miller
There's a lot of pressure in our society to be happy, especially during the holidays. However, for many, the holidays can be a reminder of painful memories—like the divorce they are going through, the loss of a loved one or the distance between those they are closest to.

Oftentimes, feelings of depression, anxiety and stress are likely to build during this time. If you have lost a loved one or are struggling with change in your family, this may be a time when the change may feel more prominent. Your family may need to alter a tradition or celebrate in a different way to alleviate some of the pain.

If symptoms of anxiety or depression are keeping you company this holiday season, don't lose hope. Take the first step to a better place by taking Kappa Alpha Theta's online screening on the Sisters Supporting Sisters page.

Screening for Mental Health, Inc., Theta's wellness partner, contributed material for this blog post.

Posted On: Monday, December 22, 2014 09:00 AM, by Kristi Tucker
75-year pin
It's that time of year again! No, not just the holiday season, but Theta's anniversary mailing. Each year, we recognize those women celebrating 25, 50, and 75 years of membership in the Fraternity. Each 25-year Theta receives a special letter congratulating them on this milestone. Each 50- and 75-year Theta will receive a pansy pin to mark these milestones.

Know of anyone celebrating a Theta anniversary this year? Check out these lists of our 25-year, 50-year, and 75-year Thetas to find a friend's name...or even yours!

Congratulations to all of the women celebrating an anniversary. We wish you many more years of wonderful Theta memories.

Kristi Tucker is the assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, December 8, 2014 08:30 AM, by Kristi Tucker
Alaska, July 2015
The all-new Kappa Alpha Theta Traveler program provides you with a way to travel and connect with your sisters. Theta is dedicated to providing the experience of travel while strengthening the bonds of sisterhood. Whether you are reuniting with a long-lost sister or providing the ideal location for a chapter reunion, Theta Travel can make it happen.

Our first trips are now scheduled to the following destinations!

  • Our cruise to Alaska runs from July 18-26, 2015, and is on the five-star small ship m.s. L'Austral. This smaller ship provides access into remote scenic bays and inlets that are inaccessible to larger vessels.

  • Normandy, France is a land trip available Oct. 7-15, 2015. This trip provides travelers with an exclusive walk through history by visiting several different beaches, tasting Normandy's famous Calvados brandy, and touring the majestic Mont Saint-Michel.


If cruising the Alaskan seas or walking the beaches of Normandy sounds exciting to you, be sure to sign up now! The earlier you sign up, the better the price! Early booking for the Alaska cruise ends Jan. 20, 2015.

In order to learn more about our upcoming trips, visit the Theta Traveler page. Also, be sure to visit the Theta Traveler website to register, view more information about each trip, suggest a trip, find travel guides and tips, and much more.

Spouses, other family members, and friends are all more than welcome to join you. (Some trips many not be suitable for younger children, so be sure to check with the trip representative.) For more information, contact Kristi Tucker at 800-526-1870 ext. 116 or ktucker@kappaalphatheta.org.

Kristi Tucker is the assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.


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